Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #4: No Hablo Inglés

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.”–Robert Benchley

We  have a house full of animals.  At the present we have a very manageable three dogs, two horses and one cat.  OK, the horses are in the back yard, not the house.  You get the picture.  In the past we have had chickens, guinea hens, turkeys (both wild and domestic), rabbits, hedgehogs a rooster and a donkey.   I  had to put my foot down regarding the latter two.  I work from a home office.   The noises coming from our backyard wrecked havoc while I was on the phone making business calls.  It sounded like I was selling farm supplies out of a silo in Iowa.

OK, I knew there would be animals in my household.  I signed on for that.  But Cheryl doesn’t just collect animals.  She collects other veterinarians.  They come here; they live with us.  They stay for a few days, weeks, months, or in a couple of notable cases, years.   They come from all over the world:  from Venezuela…Columbia…Chile…Afghanistan…Turkey…The Philippines…all over.  If there were Martian veterinarians we would have housed one by now.   Just for variety, we also had a law student from Beijing.   Never mind how or why they have landed in our hacienda;   I could write an entire book on the characters that have lived with us.   But today, let’s talk about just one.   Dr. Gibson Fernandez.

mariachi-helps-to-speak-SpanishAh, Gibson.  He hails from Maracaibo, Venezuela where he is a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Zulia.  He did an internship at my wife’s veterinary hospital back in the late 1990’s and has been spending the month of August with us every year since.  He just happens to be be one of the most personable and likeable people you have ever met.  I swear, he has more friends in Connecticut, just from his one month a year,  than we do living here our whole lives.  The phone starts ringing days before he arrives.  “When is Gibson coming?” “Is Gibson there yet?” “Can Gibson come out and play?”

Gibson is smart, funny, affable and a loyal friend.  Everybody loves Gibson.  It seems he has but one small failing.

His English sucks.   Even after fifteen years of visits and an ESL course,  he still never fails to leave us in hysterics with his lingual gaffs.  You think Desi Arnaz sounded funny?  You ain’t heard nothing yet.  On his most recent visit the three of us were in the car when we crossed over one of Connecticut’s major rivers,  the Housatonic.

“Isn’t that the Titanic?” Gibson queried.

Sen͂or Gibson.

El Doctor Gibson.

We almost drove off the road laughing.   Here are three of his best gems from years gone by.

Scene #1:  A warm summer’s day.  Gibson comes in from the yard and proudly states, “I killed all of the Wops under the deck.”

We are presently paying the Irish mafia to protect him from the Italian mafia

Scene #2:  A balmy summer’s eve.  We are eating dinner out on the now Wop-free deck.  Gibson licks his lips as he devours the barbecue chicken I have just finished grilling and proclaims, “Mark is a good cock!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Gibson!!  That’s not a complement.  Well at least, not coming from you.

Scene #3: A typical day at my wife’s office.  Or rather, a typical Gibson visit day.   But as he and Cheryl are working up a case, the groomer is having a hard time in the next room with a rather hissy cat.

“Bad pussy! Bad pussy.”  The groomer scolds the feline.   Cheryl and Gibson hear this and Cheryl ignores it.  But Gibson immediately goes next door, picks up the cat, and begins examining its genitals.

“What are you doing?” Cheryl asks.

“Well,” Gibson says quite seriously, “Donna said it has a bad pussy!”

It’s OK.  We still love Gibson.  We love him the way Lucy loved Desi, bad English and all.



  1. Fantastic post! I want to meet Gibson!
    This post reminds me of my Italian grandfather, who once famously went into a bakery to ask “You have crawlies here? Crawlies?” The owner got very huffy until my mother jumped in to correct. “He wants some crullers!”

  2. Hilarious! Had some similar but not nearly as side-splitting experiences with my first husband, a native of Spain.

    • We might add that even Gibson gets frustrated by Spaniards. He says they talk funny. (He means their Spanish, not their English)

      • That they do! It’s hard to learn to speak Castillian Spanish unless you also know how the words are spelled so you can substitute a “th” sound for every soft “c” you encounter. Everybody else pronounces “c” and “s” interchangeably. Makes the Spaniards sound a little swishy…

  3. I have a customer with a similar farm-like “office environment” incl. horses, dogs, goats, geese, cats, chicken,… (I am sure I am omitting some animals) – I can relate. I am able to troubleshoot difficult IT problems while trying to repel three cute dogs jumping at me.

  4. I understand Gibson perfectly. Love the post.

  5. Sounds like a great life. Enjoyed your post. My home is a bit similar – soon we’ll have 3 dogs (getting a golden retriever puppy in a coupe of weeks), a year-old lab, and an 9 yr. old pug, as well as a canary (he almost never sings) and an electus parrot–he’s screeching at me as I type, and the pug is barking at a thunderstorm. And my son and his wife have 4 cats in their room (egads). At least they’re quiet. When my husband retires, I shudder to think what all he’ll add to the mess.
    have a great day,

    • Oh, it’s great enough as long as there is space. I haven’t been asked to sleep in the barn yet to make room for guests. I wouldn’t bet that the day is not coming. 😉

  6. Mike Rigdon says:

    That’s a fantastic story, thank you so much for sharing it! I just had a tooth pulled and needed a laugh 🙂

  7. I have my hands full with my feline trio infernal, although I am still waiting for a lonely lost little kitten to tap at the window with a paw and meow “let me in”. My three felines said forget it and Mr. Swiss (my husband) says “no way”. I realy had to laugh at your post. I am one of the english that everyone laughs at in Switzerland when I speak my anglo swiss german. Mr. Swiss says don’t worry, just don’t speak french.

    • -I know of what you speak. I was once told that the reason so many Swiss can speak English is that the German-speaking Swiss refuse to speak French, and the French-speaking Swiss refuse to speak German. As English is much easier than, say Navajo or Uzbek, by default that’s the only way they can communicate with each other.

  8. Mark you really made me laugh… All your posts are excellent, but this one is by far the funniest, probably because I know Gibson and I’ve been there when he says something like that, and I don’t mean to say that my English is perfect, but I think nobody has gone as far as Gibson has.

  9. Bring Gibson to poker. We could use a few laughs and he sounds like a great guy!

  10. A very funny and affectionate tribute to a friend. Your description of the rooster and donkey being too much was very funny – I could immediately imagine the sound of both in the background of a telephone call. 😆

  11. Too much fun! I also adore and respect my husband, as you do your houseguest, but his dislexia brings with it some interesting malaprops and gaffs. My favorite is ‘You cease to amaze me…” Since the phrase ‘you never cease to amaze me’ is most often used before a complaint, I think his version is more true to heart. Whatever follows is generally not something I’m delighted to hear, but I always end up with a twinkle in my eye as I stifle a giggle and move forward to work on amazing him again in the future!

  12. Ah spouses. When was it exactly when the ceased to amaze us? 😉

  13. Hey, don’t dis Iowan silos. If you had one of those, it would be a good place to keep the rooster and the donkey. 😉

  14. Yeah, but I’m not in the farm belt and I don’t. And if I did, my wife would probably convert it for more visitor housing if not more critters.

  15. You forgot to mention the giant centipede — oh wait, centipedes don’t make a lot of noise…

  16. Michael says:

    Hi Mr. Mark. Nice blog. I remember Gibson…a great guy. I happen to be the veterinarian from the Philippines on this post :-). I met Gibson and Veronica during my externship at Cheryl’s practice. English is my second language but I can pick up a word or two in Spanish. Thanks to the Spaniards who colonized us for 300 years and named our country after their king, they have influenced our language and culture. Gibson and I got along great and became good buddies during my stay with your family (wow, that was 12 years ago). I hang out with him and other Latino veterinarians (who don’t speak English by the way) when we were down in Orlando with Cheryl for the Veterinary conference. I don’t speak and understand their language but I had a great time with those fellow veterinarians…
    Regards to Cheryl.


  17. I love these veterinary tales!
    Thanks for visiting my blog – wouldn’t have found you otherwise.

  18. happycitizen2 says:

    Great post!! Uncontrolled smiling an giggles as I read it.

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