Testicle Face

“What do you call those things on that guy’s face? Testicles?” Darling Man asks with a puzzled frown.


“You know, in that movie we saw last week,” Darling Man says, stroking his chin like he had a Ho Chi Minh beard. “That guy had testicles on his face.”

“WHAT???” I say again. “I have NEVER watched one of those movies with you.”

In fact, I’ve never watched one of those movies. I start to wonder what on earth Darling Man had been up to. And with whom.

“Have you been watching porn?” I ask.

“No,” he says, getting a little frustrated. “Not porn. Pirates.”

Ahhhh. The Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The Davy Jones character.  Cable TV in Vietnam had shown it a few weeks earlier.  “I don’t think they were testicles on his face,” I say. “Do you mean tentacles?”

“Oh yeah,” Darling Man says. “Tentacles. I forgot the word.”

“There’s a bit of a difference between testicles and tentacles,” I tell him, giving him a synonym for testicles so he knows what he just said.

Darling Man is always striving to improve his English. This particular English lesson gave him the giggles and left me with a disturbing mental image.

Our crazy life continues and I forget about the testicle-face guy.

One night we met some friends for dinner. Beers were ordered. Glasses were plonked down on the table. Chunks of ice were dropped into the glasses. Menus were frowned at. Instructions were issued to the waiters and relayed to the cooks. Plates of food started arriving. The party was underway.

Talking, laughing, drinking, eating. Knees not fitting under the table. Chopsticks, bowls, glasses, plates, dipping sauces, spoons, wet napkins and beer bottles piled haphazardly on the table, requiring rearrangement every time a new dish or a new diner arrives.

“Hey, what do you call this?” Darling Man says, yelling above the noise, and pointing to a plate in the middle of the table. “Testicle?”

I stop chewing, trying to decide whether to spit out the spongey stuff in my mouth. It not improbable that someone has ordered a plate of testicles. Vietnamese people don’t waste any part of the animal. I’ve been cajoled into trying ovaries, heard of bull-penis soup, seen people gnaw on chicken feet, fished floating offal out of my soup and gagged on bits of congealed blood Darling Man’s mother helpfully put in my breakfast bowl.

“I thought it was squid,” I said, around a half-chewed animal part.

“Yes, but what’s the word for the …. ” he says, stroking an imaginary beard.

“Tentacle,” I say, very relieved. “Tentacle, not testicle. You really have to be careful with those words,” I warn him.

“Yeah, but they sound the same,” he says, grinning.
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11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. t-cat says:

    The mental imagary of this post is extraordinary; really I can’t stop laughing.

    Cultural/languages differences portrayed in such an endeearing light! x

  2. Thanks T-cat! I’m glad I made you smile.

  3. Winnie says:

    I was laughing out so hard, my dad sitting next to me was wondering what I am reading! Darling Man is a real darling! Keep the stories coming.

  4. […] 9) This American (Canadian?) expat lives in Vietnam with her Vietnamese husband and is the blogger of  The Drop Out Diaries. She finds that the English language can be very confusing for her dear husband as you can read in her story TESTICLE FACE. […]

  5. Aledys Ver says:

    Hilarious! And all the while you have to try to keep a straight face…! 😀
    I just read Miss Footloose’s post recommended your blog. I loved the story, will come back for more!
    Aledys Ver recently posted..Spotted in The Netherlands- tulip fields on the Northeast Polder

    • The Dropout says:

      Oh, I didn’t try too hard to keep a straight face!
      I am loving all Miss Footloose’s finds as well. I feel honoured to be in such great company. And welcome to my blog, by the way.

  6. MaryWitzl says:

    I sympathize with your husband! After learning a new word, I tend to forget it. Sometimes I get the wrong idea about what something means and often when I learn the correct meaning, the wrong idea lingers in my mind, causing confusion and unintentional mirth. Testicles and tentacles would throw me for a loop.

    ‘Oshinko’ (pickles) sounds a lot like ‘oshikko’ (pee). I once offered over two dozen Japanese men the latter in a New York restaurant where I was a waitress. It took real courage to go back to that job the next day.
    MaryWitzl recently posted..Labor Of Love

    • The Dropout says:

      Oh, what a classic mixup!
      I am a bit wary of some words when I speak my (very limited) Vietnamese. The word for “old”, “goat” and “penis” are nearly identical!

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