A simple discussion about nightlife led to a cascade of emotions ranging from social discomfort to self-loathing on Wednesday when a friendly Luxembourger listed off a number of bars you should check out, including a favorite pub of his located in “the Ground.”
As you have lived here for a few years, you assumed he meant “the Grund,” which is probably Luxembourgish for “ground,” but you are not sure.
In any case, you dared not correct or even question him because, after all, he’s speaking your language even though you are in his country.
The man went to ask if you knew “the Ground,” and you said you weren’t sure, and your phony uncertainty, your lie, then prompted him to explain where precisely “the Ground” is located.
Yes, he was referring to the Grund.
By then, your failure to mention that English speakers also refer to it as “the Grund” began to trouble you because sooner or later this friendly local will learn the truth and think back to this very day when you let him say “the Ground” more than 10 times.
You admitted to yourself that this predicament was entirely your fault as you really should have been speaking to this guy in Luxembourgish because you have lived here for many years, one-third of your entire life, in fact, but you couldn’t admit to that to him, so you went on pretending to be a little confused about where and what “the Ground” is.
“So, you say there’s an elevator I can take to the Ground, right?” you said, now 100 percent committed to this thing.
Then you wondered if maybe it’s not entirely your fault. Were you obliged to learn any foreign languages in school apart from the obligatory two years of Spanish, German, or French, which is nothing really?
This social discomfort, your growing shame, this guy’s future hurt feelings, and your failure to have learned at least the basics of Luxembourgish, at least enough to talk about places to drink, is not at all your fault. You are a victim of your country, your culture, and your system of education.
No, another lie. In all honesty, this is all your fault. The first time he said “the Ground,” you could have said, “oh yeah, the Grund,” and that would have been that.
Crushed by self-loathing, you have only one choice, and that is to avoid talking to this person ever again, which will be hard since he works two desks over. Still, you will do your best.