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Alethea & Athena
Memorial Day shenanigans 
10th-Jun-2018 05:46 pm
It occurs to me that I still have no record of the events of Memorial Day. And that makes it sound all big and important, which you know, it might be. Currently, it just seems like a nice thing we did with our family that I'll like to be able to look back on.

...I'm trying to think if there was anything in particular about the barbecue that I wanted to write about. That was pretty much the same as always--we went to the park, we chatted with a few people, there was a pinata, we pelted children with candy, all the usual things. But the important thing is that we got to spend some time with our nieces and nephews.

Which reminds me, that same weekend, we had turned in the translation for the latest chapter of Farewell, My Dear Cramer, and for those of you who aren't reading it, there's a girl on the current enemy team who wears her hair in what Wikipedia says is officially called "bunches." Or at least, that's what it said the last time we bothered checking Wikipedia, but sometimes the articles change. Anyway, we translated it as pigtails--her hair tied in two bunches, one on either side of her head. The line where we called her the pigtailed girl confused our editor, who instructed the letterer to change it to ponytailed. We were not about to let that slide, so we emailed back and said no, one is a ponytail, two is pigtails. The ponytailed girl would conjure images of an entirely different girl on the same team. The letterer backed us up, so the editor went with majority rule but remained incredulous. That same morning, our sister brought our beautiful niece to the barbecue with her hair in two braids, one on either side of her head. Some other people at the party (probably our sisters in-laws, but I wasn't looking at the speakers) saw our niece and said, "Oh, how cute! Braided pigtails!" And so we thought, "There! You see!"

Mostly I just had some stories about the kiddos. Our other niece adores animals, and it came to her attention that there might be a cat in the house, and we might be able to lure her out of hiding with some treats. (Most of the time, the cats catch the slightest whiff of small children and go into immediate hiding, never to be seen until the children are long gone.) So we tracked down the one cat, who was indeed willing to tolerate small children if treats were involved. So there I am with my niece, handing treat after treat to the cat, and this adorable two-year-old girl goes (referring to the cat), "She's super hungry!" And it's just the funniest thing, because she's only two, but she adds "super" to everything. Her mother has no idea where she picked it up, and in this case it really isn't a matter of the mother being oblivious to her own behavior, because our sister doesn't use super that much.

The biggest story, though, was from the Conflict of Cousins. It started innocently enough. The nephew we affectionately refer to as "Our Favorite" wanted to play Uno. His cousin wanted to play a game, but there was already a tidal wave of toys across the living room floor and none of the grownups wanted to add a board game to the mix. So we suggested Nephew No.2 join our other nephew and Athena in a game of Uno. (To protect the innocent, I will provide the nephews with codenames. Our favorite will be Grawp and his cousin will be Romeo.)

So Grawp and Romeo are now playing Uno with Athena, who actually won the game fairly early on. However, she did not bring attention to this fact, and just allowed the boys to keep playing while her turns were mysteriously skipped. At one point, Romeo wanted to play a card that he couldn't legally play, so Athena tried to explain why games have rules (incidentally, Romeo is four). Unfortunately, her preamble was too long. The idea was to say we all want to win but we can't, so the only way to make it fair is for us to all follow the rules.

What actually happened, though no one remembers the exact continuity, is that Athena asked Romeo, "How would you feel if you didn't win? Bad?" Romeo responds appropriately. "How do you think Grawp would feel if he didn't win? Don't you think he'd feel bad, too?" Grawp helpfully (and sincerely) responds, "I don't care." In fact, because this was Romeo's first game of Uno, they had his cards face up on the table, and everyone was helping him choose cards that would be the most beneficial. Grawp even told Romeo to play a Draw Two when it would have hurt him. That's why he's our favorite.

Anyway, Athena said something about fairness, so Romeo said, "He needs to lose, and I need to win, and that's fair." And thus began the heckish Uno nightmare. To Grawp's credit, he really didn't care. He took it all in stride, and he was happy as long as he got to play. And it may have been his good attitude that helped him win. Well, Romeo was none too happy about that. To his credit, he didn't throw a tantrum. He settled for playing again so that he could win this time. But his mother wouldn't let him play again until he said, "Good job, Grawp." And you know, if we had told him to use that name instead of his cousin's real name, maybe he would have been more amenable. ...But considering his attitude at the time, I think he would have resorted to the same course of action. He didn't even blink, he just said, "Bad job, Grawp."

Well, that was obnoxious. We were told that all the other grownups in the room were made very tense by this development. I don't remember how I reacted, but I think it was equivalent to rolling my eyes in a, "This is why we hate children," sort of way. Grawp remained a champ. Like he didn't even notice. We told Romeo he couldn't play again until he said the right words, and eventually he did! So we played what felt like the longest game of Uno in history. There weren't any outbursts or anything; it just wouldn't end. Right when it looked like someone was going to play their last card, they ended up having to draw about a thousand from the deck. Romeo eventually got bored and wandered away while his mother played in his stead. Eventually Grawp was left with just one card, and Athena and our sister cheated a little to make sure he could play it. He won again! And that's what happens when you're a good sport.

By then we were all utterly fed up with Uno, but then Grawp's little brother (also four) came along and silently destroyed Athena. She had been dealt three wild cards, but he got to go first, and he played two Draw Twos in a row, followed by a Skip, and she had one chance to play a card before he played out. That's life, I guess.

Grawp's little brother is also the one who, during the first game of Uno, agreed to clean up the toys strewn across the floor in exchange for getting to play Mousetrap. So maybe that's why he was blessed with such a good hand in Uno.

And that's the story of Memorial Day. Today I'm thankful for having an interesting family, that game of Uno finally ending, getting to start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, being past all the recap, and having plans to get lots and lots of sleep tonight.
12th-Jun-2018 07:56 am (UTC)
I think "bunches" is a British expression, since I don't recall ever seeing it in a non-U.K. (or possibly Irish or Australian) context. I've always interpreted it to mean what I, like your editor, would call two ponytails. Although if the line wound up just using "ponytailed" as an adjective without indicating that there were in fact two ponytails, that certainly could be misleading.

I believe I've most often seen "pigtails" used to mean two braids in an American context, although the various differences of opinion regarding this suggest that the precise meaning of this term may vary from one region of the country to another. The word "pigtails" actually would make more sense if the bunches of hair in question were the kind of ponytails that sort of twist and curl like a pig's curly tail, unlike braids.

I suppose you might also have been able to convey what the hairstyle looked like by saying "the twin-tailed girl" instead of "the pigtailed [or ponytailed] girl," since there apparently is some Japanese hair-related expression that's often translated as some variation of "twin tail" (as in the rather silly-sounding anime that's actually called "Gotta Be the Twin Tail!"--at least, that's its English title). But whatever it is that's translated as "twin tail" may be some entirely different Japanese word or phrase from the one used in "Farewell My Dear Cramer." (My impression is that "twin tail" tends to be used primarily when the twin ponytails are fairly long and straight. So if the character's hair bunches are relatively short it might not be technically appropriate anyway.) Not to mention the fact that readers who've never seen this abbreviation for "ponytail" before might get confused and think that the sports manga has suddenly taken a turn for the supernatural, with somebody describing the girl from the opposing team as literally having two tails, like certain yokai.
13th-Jun-2018 06:54 am (UTC)
Yes, that's how Wikipedia defines bunches--as two ponytails. (I thought I said that in the post, but maybe I wasn't clear...)

A handy trick we've learned for ascertaining whether or not most people will understand a term the same way we do is to check the Google. In a case like this, it's a simple matter of going to Google images and searching "pigtails". We did this before arguing with our editor, and it did indeed show us several pictures of women wearing two ponytails (some of them were braided, but enough of them weren't that we figured we weren't too far off-base).

But since we did happen to be at a family gathering, we were able to discuss it with our mother and sisters, and our conclusion is that it was a generational thing. People our mother's age thing pigtails must be braided; people of our generation think if there are two ponytails, one on either side of the head, it's pigtails, braided or not. On the other hand, it could also be a regional thing, since we all grew up in California, but our mother grew up in Alabama...

The Japanese word for twintail is "tsuinteeru," which, if you know anything about Japanese pronunciation, is just the Japanese pronunciation of the English word "twintail." However, I'm pretty sure the term originated in Japan, possibly because Japanese hairstylists came across the same problems we did when trying to describe two ponytails. The term was discussed as an option, as it does seem to be gaining currency, but we and our editor agreed that it's not exactly well known outside of otaku circles, and this title is aimed at a more general audience.
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