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2018年04月27日 12:36:02 | 作者:爱信息 | 来源:新华社
I came to China as a British diplomat in 1989. For two years prior to that I had been studying Mandarin. It was not really my decision.1989年,我以外交官的身份来到中国,之前的两年我开始学习中文。可这并不是我自己的决定。In 1986 I joined the British Foreign Office. I had a degree in European history and languages and spoke fluent German. Naively, I assumed that my future would lie in Western and Central Europe. But of course the Foreign Office had other ideas. This was not just out of sheer perversity, of the kind that all large organizations demonstrate from time to time. Their thinking was that, as I had a talent for languages, I should study one of the really hard ones, and they were particularly keen to send young diplomats to learn Arabic. (This is not just because of the strategic and economic importance of the Middle East, but simply because there are a large number of Arab countries, and so a large number of embassies need staffing.)我在1986年进入英国外交部。我曾获得欧洲历史与语言学位,能讲流利的德语。我曾天真地以为我会被派到西欧或者中欧,但他们对我却另有安排。外交部的决定也并非完全有悖常情,与所有大机构时而做出的变态决定还不同。他们认为我有语言天赋,应当学习一种真正有难度的语言。当时外交部特别喜欢派年轻外交官去学阿拉伯语。(这并非仅仅出于中东地区战略和经济地位的重要性考虑,也是因为那里有众多说阿拉伯语的国家,因此有同样众多的大使馆需要人手)。I had recently got married at this stage, and my wife told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want to spend half of her life heavily wrapped up in the fierce desert heat. So I needed to find another choice to prevent being forced into that course of action. Because my studies had been almost entirely Eurocentric, I knew nothing whatever about China, beyond a vague idea that it was a large place a long way to the east. But I pretended great enthusiasm for a career as a Sinologist, and was thus able to avoid banishment to the deserts of the Middle East.当时我新婚燕尔,我妻子明确得对我说她可不想下半辈子生活在酷热的沙漠。为了不被派往阿拉伯,我需要个替代方案。我的学问都是有关欧洲的。当时我只模糊晓得中国在遥远的东方,是个大国,除此这些,我对她一无所知。但为了不被流放到中东沙漠,我假装对汉学家这个职业抱有极大的热情。I enjoyed studying the language, although learning the characters remains probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I had one major problem with my studies; my first son was born the week the course started, and he made it impossible to concentrate (or sleep at night). I began the two-year course with no children and ended it with two, as we had another son in Hong Kong where the second year took place.我喜爱学习中文,但学汉字可以说得上是我这辈子遇见的最困难的事儿。在学中文时,我遇到的主要麻烦是:开课的第一周我大儿子降生了,当时他使我很难集中精力学习(夜里也很难睡个好觉)。第二年我的二儿子在香港出生。历时两年的中文课程开始时我还没孩子,而课程结束时我已是两个男孩的爸爸了。I was to spend most of the 1990s in China, a total of nine years, in which my children grew up chasing cockroaches around the living room and learning Chinese songs from our ayi. Sadly they never really learned Chinese, as in the diplomatic compounds there were families from every nationality on earth -- except Chinese.90年代我在中国度过了整整九年时间,孩子们渐渐长大,在客厅追着到处跑,跟中国阿姨学着唱中文歌。遗憾的是,他们都没有学会中文,因为在使馆区虽说有来自世界各国的家庭,却唯独没有中国的。I was always keen not to limit my acquaintance to other diplomats and foreigners; as I was in China I wanted to get to know the Chinese people, which in the late 1980s was just beginning to become possible. The criminal offence of ;li tong wai guo; had been abolished, and it was possible to establish genuinely friendly relations with people, both those one met through work and those one met through the social life which was just beginning to take off in the newly-opened bars.在中国期间,我的交际圈不仅仅局限于外交官和外籍人士,因为我身处中国,我想要了解这里的人。80年代末,中国废除了“里通外国”的刑事罪名,这让我和当地人成为真正的朋友成为可能,无论是在工作中还是在日常交往中遇到的。没了藩篱的束缚,生活也丰富了起来。From the start I found Chinese people naturally friendly and approachable. Despite China#39;s long isolation from the West, people seemed genuinely free from any inbuilt suspicion or resentment of foreigners, and happy to meet on equal terms. I learnt that it was very important to treat everyone I met with respect; the Chinese, like most people, don#39;t like being condescended to by foreigners, and the British have to be very careful in this respect because of our colonial past.一开始我便发现中国人天性友好、容易相处。尽管历史上中国曾与西方长期隔绝,但中国人对外国人没有固有的猜疑与怨恨,也愿意和外国人平等地结交。我意识到,尊重每一个我遇见的人非常重要;像大多数人一样,中国人不喜欢被外国人瞧不起,有过殖民历史的英国人更应注意这一点。This was particularly true in my job as a diplomat. Chinese diplomats were always highly intelligent and professional, but extremely concerned to preserve the dignity of their country. Debate was always tough, but open and honest and usually concluded with a friendly lunch or dinner. The impression I got at these meetings -- which I have retained ever since -- is that, so long as you treat the Chinese with proper respect for their nation and their culture, you can say anything you like, and I have always been able to be completely frank.作为一名外交官,我忠诚得履行着我的职责。中国的外交官悟性都很强,且具有很高的职业素养,他们竭力维护国家尊严。我们之间的争论常常非常激烈,却又坦诚布公,过后我们经常友好地共同用膳。在这些会议上中国外交官给我留下的印象是,只要你尊重中国和中国文化,你就可以和中国人敞开心扉,畅所欲言。And, as a diplomat, there was always the danger of politics putting a strain on professional and personal relationships. The worst case of this was the terrible accidental NATO bombardment of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999. It was a very difficult meeting a few days later when I had to go into the China#39;s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make formal apologies on behalf of my government, and had to listen to a lot of fierce and entirely understandable criticism. In the preceding days I had been besieged in the British Embassy for four days by stone-throwing demonstrators angered by NATO#39;s dful mistake. While I sat in my office dodging missiles, I was delighted to receive a phone call from a young Chinese couple I had met a few days before. They expressed sympathy for my difficult situation, and said they hoped I wouldn#39;t be prevented from appearing at the dinner to which they had invited me that evening!身为一名外交人士,政治动荡常会影响工作和人际关系。最糟糕的一件事情是,1999年位于贝尔格莱德市的中国大使馆遭到北大西洋公约组织轰炸。事后数日,我代表英国政府到中国外交部致歉,我不得不面对许多完全合乎情理的激烈批评。在这之前,被北大西洋公约组织的暴行激怒的示威者向英国大使馆投掷石头,导致我被围困在大使馆四天之久。幸运的是,当我在办公室躲避石块时,我接到了不久前认识的一对年轻中国夫妇的电话,他们很同情我当时的境遇,并且希望我能如约参加当天晚上他们组织的晚宴。It cannot be denied that living in faraway countries imposes strains on family life. Sadly, a lot of marriages fail in careers like diplomacy, and mine was one of them. I got very much involved in China, its people and its culture, which my wife did not do to any great extent, and gradually we discovered that we had been drifting apart. This is a fate which can be very difficult to avoid, as one can never tell in advance how a spouse will adapt to a strange environment.不可否认,生活在遥远的国度会给家庭生活带来很大的压力。让人伤心的是,许多外交人士的婚姻以失败告终,我的婚姻也未能幸免。我深深地融入中国人民和中国文化之中,而我的妻子却不是这样的。逐渐,我们发现彼此日益疏离。这是命运,难以避免。因为此前我无法预知妻子适应陌生的生活环境的能力。And so, in a development which is very common among expatriate men working in China, I acquired a new wife, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine from Chongqing. We are still experiencing the eternal ups and downs of a cross-cultural marriage; I love my fu-qi-fei-pian and she enjoys a full breakfast of sausages, bacon and beans at the weekend.像很多在中国工作的外籍男人一样,我开始了另一段婚姻。我的妻子是一名来自重庆的中医。现在,我们仍然经历着跨文化婚姻的坎坷与甜蜜;我喜欢吃夫妻肺片,她也喜欢周末早餐里的香肠、培根和豆子。Now I no longer work in China, but I have kept up a habit of visiting at least once a year, funds permitting. I still maintain a network of good Chinese friends, who are very important to me; some of them I have been close to for over twenty years. I never found it at all difficult to establish good friendships. In fact some of my Chinese friends are prepared to tell me secrets about themselves which they wouldn#39;t tell to their Chinese friends! (Because a foreigner knowing your secrets doesn#39;t make you lose face.)现在我已不在中国工作,但只要财力允许,我每年仍然回到中国一次。我与许多中国朋友仍旧保持着联系,他们对我而言非常重要。我和其中一些人已经密切交往了20多年。和他们成为朋友不是什么难事。事实上我的许多中国朋友更愿意向我倾诉心里话,而不是向他的同胞朋友。(因为一个外国人知道你的秘密不会让你没面子。)I have been there to support a young family when their son was born; I have acted as interpreter at a Sino-British wedding; and I have attended the funeral of a lovely girl who died tragically young. My friends and I know all each other#39;s histories, and I find it very reassuring that, while the China I knew in 1989 has changed beyond recognition, the people have not.在中国,我一直资助着一对年轻夫妇,那时他们的儿子刚出生。我曾在一个中英婚礼上担任翻译,我还曾参加一位可爱可惜英年早逝的女孩的葬礼。我和我的朋友们都熟知彼此的过去。可以肯定的是,虽然1989年后的中国已经变得无法识别,然而,那里的人们始终没有变。Except in one respect. All my friends seem to have the most enormous children. The rapid improvement in nutrition in China over the last 30 years is really noticeable, especially in the north; medium-height parents are producing boys growing to 185-190 cm in height! It is quite alarming.唯一改变的是,我的中国朋友们的孩子长得都很高大。在过去的30年里,中国人的营养状况迅速改善,特别是北方,中等个头夫妇的儿子身高可达1.85到1.9米,这简直太令人吃惊了。I don#39;t know whether I will ever live and work full-time in China again. I am in my fifties now, and as a long-term expatriate friend once said to me, China probably isn#39;t the best place to grow old in. (If one does not benefit from a Chinese network of family relationships, that is.) What I would like is a little house in the countryside, perhaps somewhere in Sichuan near to my wife#39;s family, in which I would live for five or six months a year writing books and journalism, and spend the rest of the year in Scotland, which has now become my home. But once China gets into your blood, you will never get it out again.我不知是否还会回到中国全职工作和生活。如今我已年过五旬,一个和我一样在国外工作过的老友告诉我,中国不适合养老(如果在中国没有家人和亲戚的话,的确如此)。我希望在中国的乡间有个小院,最好就在我妻子四川老家那边。每年我在那里住上五、六个月,写写书、撰撰稿。其余的时间我呆在苏格兰,那里是我现在的家。没错儿,一旦中国融入你的血液,你就再也无法割舍。 /201303/228001

由于用汉语拼音来表达的大陆人的姓名,发音自成一体,看着是同样的字母,在英语里读音却不同,因此生活在美国的大陆人常常会因为自己的姓名遇到尴尬或闹笑话。许多人为了学习和生活的方便都给自己起个英文名,但姓氏改不了,尴尬还是免不了。    曾有人写文章,认为“X”是汉语拼音的软肋,在英语的姓名里几乎看不到这个字母,所以一旦姓名里出现这个字母会给人怪异的感觉。一般人会把它读成“克司”,有个姓邢(Xing)的朋友在工作,有的客户看到他挂在身上的名牌会叫他“克星先生”,还有的人叫他“Mr.Crossing”,因为英语把人行道斑马线叫CROSSING,简写成XING,在美国的大街小巷到处都可以看到“Xing”,有人为尊重他就把邢先生的姓扩展读出来,就是 “Mr.Crossing”。    而姓“徐”、“许”或姓“付”的朋友就更难过,因为“xx you ”在英语里是一句极粗劣具侮辱性的骂人话,人们往往把动词简写成X或是F,把You简写成U,所以一般人看到XU或者FU心里都会有点别扭的,Xu字念起来更是五花八门,发什么音的都有。   据说还有姓“奚”的被人当作罗马数字“XI”念成“Mr. Eleven”。   其实不只是“X”,“Q”、“Z”、“Zh”等音外国人都发不出来,“Q”在英语里后面肯定是跟着“U”的,如“Queen”“Quit”等等,所以单单一个Q他们会很困扰,干脆就照着“QU”发音,于是 “秦”(Qin)就变成接近于“Queen”的发音了。   有时候引起混淆的是姓名的意思。   李(Li)先生在美国可能会被人称作“撒谎先生”(MR. Lie)。因为Li的元音字母i在这里读作长元音〔ai〕,加上美国发音为降调,拼读起来正好与Lie同音。姓戴(Dai)的会被人称作“死先生”,(Mr. Die)因为Dai与Die发音一样,如果姓戴的人做了医生,会不会门庭冷落?找“死医生”看病,多不吉利啊!   我儿子的家庭医生是个女的,在美国考的医生执照,姓何,大家都叫她“Dr. He”,发音和“他”的英文词相同。当我去给儿子登记幼儿园时,秘书问我: “Who is your son’s pediatrician?”(谁是你儿子的家庭医生?)我回答:“Dr. He”。   她接着问:“What is his phone number?”   我赶紧摇头:“Dr.He is not he ,is she。”“You mean he is she ?”   “No,no, her last name is He, but she is she,although we call her He……”我们俩头上都有黑线冒出来了。   姓施的也一样,拼音“Shi”老外发出来的音是“She”,就是“她”的音,有个男性朋友在公司里每次被人介绍他是“Mr.She”(女先生),都十分别扭。   关于“She”和“He”《世界日报》曾登过这样一个故事:   有一位姓尤(YOU)的人来到加拿大后,热情助人,经常为新来的中国留学生接站。一次他同时接来一男一女,男的姓佘(SHE),女的姓何(HE)。接来后的第二天系里正好有个PARTY,尤同学想可以趁此机会领两位新人去熟悉一下环境,认识一些朋友,于是就开车带他们二位去参加PARTY。聚会开始后老尤上前给大家介绍新来的同学,怕老外记不住,还把他们的姓氏都给拼了出来 :   先介绍女士:“She is He, HE!”老外跟着重复:“So, She is he?”老尤答: Yes!   然后指着佘:"He is She, SHE!"老外有点懵:“What, He is she?”    尤回答: Right!   接着指指自己 "And I am You, YOU!" 老外已彻底晕了:Oh, You are me?!

The deal last week by Shuanghui, China#39;s largest pork producer, to buy U.S. pork company Smithfield at a big premium shows how much Chinese are willing to pay for safe food.上周中国最大的猪肉生产商双汇给出大幅溢价,宣布收购美国猪肉制造商史密斯菲尔德,由此可以看出,中国人为了安全的食品不吝付出高价。After a spate of food scandals, it is no surprise that consumers in China are hugely concerned about food safety. David Laris, a chef and creator of several high-end restaurants in Shanghai, reckons that if a family of four in Shanghai eats just organic food, the grocery bill would be about 0 a week. #39;At home, we spend too much money buying food; there is no shortcut financially, #39; he said.在一系列和食品有关的丑闻之后,中国普通消费者当然非常重视食品安全。在上海开了几家高级餐厅且担任大厨的David Laris说,如果一个上海的四口之家只吃有机食品,那么一周买菜的开销就有三四千元人民币之多,“我们在买菜上花太多钱了,在这方面的开没法走捷径”。But industry insiders, doctors and consumers say there are ways to reduce the risks of eating food produced in China without going over budget.但通过同业内行家、医生还有普通消费者的访谈后发现,中国消费者还是有既降低“中国制造”的食品风险,同时又不超出预算的办法的。Mr. Laris says he can#39;t run a profitable restaurant selling all organic food, so he uses a combination of imported food and carefully sourced local ingredients.知道你的食品来自哪里。Laris先生不认为他的餐厅如果只用有机原料还能赚钱,所以他除了使用进口食品,还会仔细挑选本地的原料。It is ironic for a country that has a goal of moving people from farms to cities that some city dwellers now say they are growing their own vegetables and rice, and making their own b and yogurt.考虑到中国的目标是让农民更多地搬到城市里生活,听到城里人开始自己种植蔬菜和米,还有自己做面包和酸奶,不免让人感到有点意外。有些餐厅也追赶了这一潮流。比如上海有一家叫G+极食的餐厅,在店里种植蘑菇和豆芽,饭后顾客还可以把蘑菇根茎拿回家去继续种植。China Resources Group#39;s Wu Feng Butchers, a distributor of mainland beef and pork in Hong Kong, now is also serving its home market with export-quality products as demand grows.进口的蛋白质价格相当不菲。但除了菜场里30元一只的鸡和高级超市里120元一只的法国春鸡,还是有些中间地带的。比如华润集团旗下的五丰行,原来主要给香港供应大陆牛肉和猪肉,但现在随着国内需求的上升,也开始务本地市场。Oil from restaurant waste bins and gutters are often packaged and resold as cooking oil after some rudimentary reprocessing. When her family eats out, they order pizzas, because that is less likely to use local oil.在家吃饭和中午带饭也成为新的潮流。上海一位家庭主妇Laura Zhang说,就算五星级酒店的中国菜,也难免没有地沟油,那些从厨余和阴沟里搜集来的油往往只是粗粗过滤一下就拿去再卖。所以她们要出去吃饭时常常点比萨饼,因为相对来说它用本地油的可能性不大。Milk for children is one area where most people won#39;t compromise, so they buy imported dairy products. The country#39;s dairy industry hasn#39;t recovered from a 2008 scandal in which an estimated 300, 000 babies were sickened and six were killed by tainted powdered-milk formula.注意你最常吃的食品。对于给孩子喝的牛奶,消费者是最不愿意妥协的,所以人们一般都买进口乳制品。中国乳制品行业一直没有能够从2008年的丑闻中恢复过来,当年估计有30万个宝宝因为喝了毒奶粉而患有结石病,其中有六人死亡。Foreign brands of baby formulas can sell for up to twice as much as domestic brands. But they often use nonfat milk powder and add vegetable oil, which may be harder for babies to digest. A lot of domestic brands now use imported raw ingredients, so the price gap hardly looks justifiable for budget-conscious consumers.外国品牌的奶粉在中国可以卖到本地奶粉价格的两倍之多。但它们常常使用脱脂奶粉,再加入植物油,这对婴儿的消化未必是好的。其实现在很多本土品牌也主要使用进口奶源,所以对于注重价格的消费者来说,这么大的价格差距看著有点不值。Rice is another staple that Chinese consume in large quantities. Last month, the government reported that nearly half the samples of rice in Guangzhou bore cadmium above permissible levels news that struck a nerve across China. Consumers may be better off buying foreign rice, despite the cost. Imported Thai rice in Shanghai, at per kilogram, is almost 50% more expensive than the price in Hong Kong.大米也是另一种大量消费的食品。最近广州近一半的大米被发现有毒,这也触动了中国人的神经。消费者最好还是买进口大米,虽然在上海卖的进口泰国大米要18元左右一斤,比它们在香港的售价要高出近50%。Buy a water purifier. They range from simple attach-to-the-faucet models to more-elaborate filtering systems. But even the expensive models are far cheaper than bottled water and are effective in removing much of the pollutants from the water.买水净化器。从一个简单套上水龙头的磨具,到一些高级的过滤系统都可以。就算那些最豪华的滤水系统,还是要比买瓶装水划算,并且能够有效地去除水中的很多杂质与污染物。Find a number of brands that you trust, and rotate among them. Don#39;t buy all your eggs from the same basket, even if it is a well-trusted Western brand. In 2011, some Wal-Mart stores in China were accused by officials in Chongqing of mislabeling regular pork as #39;organic.#39; The incident led to the temporary closure of 13 stores and a fine of 3.65 million yuan (6, 000). Since then, Wal-Mart has overhauled management at its stores in Chongqing and implemented a food-safety compliance system in the company#39;s stores across the nation.经常更换供应商。消费者最好找到他们相信的几个品牌,然后在它们之间轮换。不要把所有的鸡蛋都放在同一个篮子里面,就算它们是让人普遍信任的西方品牌,也难保没有问题。比如沃尔玛在中国的某些超市,也发生过把普通的猪肉标成有机猪肉出售的情况。Big brands aren#39;t necessarily better. #39;You may want to drink cow milk for 11 months and buffalo milk for a month, and have some quail eggs instead of just chicken eggs, #39; said Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research.大品牌未必就是更好的。中国市场研究(China Market Research)董事总经理Shaun Rein说,你可以一年中有11个月喝牛奶,然后有一个月喝水牛奶,或者是把鸡蛋和鹌鹑蛋搭配着吃。水牛奶因为是个新的行业,希望它还没有染上一些旧毛病。Shuanghui#39;s big pig deal wasn#39;t an accident. Some of the worst problems with food in China from dead pigs floating in a river in Shanghai to fox and rat meat disguised as beef and lamb occur in meat. While vegetables aren#39;t immune to problems like toxic soil and pesticides, they are less likely to carry large amounts of antibiotics and hormones.少吃肉。中国海外大购猪肉并非是偶然的。中国很多糟糕的食品安全事件,从黄浦江里的死猪到被扮成牛肉或者羊肉的狐狸和老鼠肉,都和肉有关。虽然蔬菜也难逃有毒土壤和危险杀虫剂的污染,但它们起码不太可能有大剂量的抗生素和荷尔蒙。Not surprisingly, vegetarianism is gaining traction among health-conscious urbanites in China, though it is still uncommon in much of the country. #39;Vegetable is the lesser of two evils, #39; said Sandy Chen, research director of consumer consultancy TNS. Even former Premier Wen Jiabao proposed a nationwide campaign of #39;one vegetarian day every week.#39;不让人意外的是,原来在中国稀罕的素食主义,目前在注重健康的城里人中开始流行了。消费调查研究公司TNS的中国研究主管Sandy Chen说,这是两害相权取其轻。就连前国务院总理温家宝也曾经在全国范围内提倡一周一天吃素。It#39;s hard to be completely safe when living in China. But if shoppers spend wisely, they can dramatically improve their food safety while staying within a budget.当然,在中国想要吃得绝对安全是很难的。但如果消费者聪明选择,还是有机会大大提高食品安全的可能性,同时又不超出预算。 /201306/243923

It was 7:30 a.m., and I was groggily pulling on a bathrobe when the doorbell rang.当时是清晨七点半。一听到门铃响,我便迷迷糊糊裹上了一件浴袍。#39;Who could that be?#39; I murmured to my husband.“那会是谁呢?”我向丈夫呢喃道。#39;It#39;s the painters,#39; he answered, darting downstairs to open the door. I soon heard him chatting with them in Spanish on the front porch. That#39;s when I really woke up.“是油漆工”,他一边冲下楼去开门一边说。不久我就听见他和油漆工们在前面门廊用西班牙语交谈。那时,我才真正从梦乡中醒来。#39;The painters? For our house?#39; I called down the stairs incredulously. Alejandro and I had been talking about painting the exterior of the house for over a month. We had looked at color charts, painted sample patches and narrowed down the choices. But we were still completing the plan.“油漆工?来刷我们的房子?”我冲楼下大喊,觉得难以置信。一个多月以来,亚历杭德罗(Alejandro)和我一直都在谈论房屋外观的刷漆问题。我们一起看了比色图表和刷好的样品,并缩小了选择范围。但我们仍在完善这个计划的过程中。By the time he came back inside, I was furious.等他回到房间时,我已是怒不可遏了。#39;Why are painters aly here? We don#39;t know the accent colors! We haven#39;t sketched it out! We didn#39;t run it by my sister!#39; I complained.“为什么油漆工现在就来了?我们连主色调是什么都不知道!我们还没有把草图画出来!我们还没让我的过目呢!”我抱怨道。#39;We#39;ll get started and figure it all out as we go,#39; Alejandro said. #39;It#39;s time to make it happen.#39;“我们就要动工了,在这个过程中,我们会把所些问题都一一解决的。”亚历杭德罗说,“该是开工的时候了。”I was mad all day long: Painting our house is part of our investment in it and ought to be a mutual decision, I fumed. But that evening when I got home and took a look at the painters#39; progress, it was suddenly easy to figure out where the trim color should go and what color the door should be. I tried to defend my morning hysteria, saying we had not technically been y to pull the trigger on the project, but my argument fell apart in light of how well it was working out.我一整天都气鼓鼓的。刷房子是我们对房产投资的一部分,这应该是两个人共同的决定,我十分恼火。但那天晚上,当我回家看到油漆工的进展时,突然觉得不费吹灰之力便能说出门该上什么色、哪些地方该刷配色。但我还是试着为自己早上歇斯底里的行为辩解。我说,严格说来,我们并未准备好动工。但由于刷漆工程进展得异常顺利,我的此番争论因而完全站不住脚。#39;Maybe you could even say…I was right?#39; he asked, teasingly, hopefully.“也许你甚至可以说……我是对的?”亚历杭德罗揶揄道。他对我的态度发生转变仍抱有希望。I answered with a mock cry of horror, as though he had asked me to curse my children. I love the man, but really. What a suggestion.我对他的话报以一阵恐怖的假哭干嚎,就好像他要我诅咒自己的孩子一样。但我爱这个男人,是真爱。让我承认他是对的,这是多好的一个建议。***---In a democratic system like our marriage, where two parties enjoy a 50-50 split in voting rights, it#39;s uncomfortable when one party designates himself or herself the dictator and makes a decree. I#39;ve always prided myself on being part of a marriage of equals, where we are both the bwinners and, as I like to tenderly remind the South American gentleman to whom I am wed, we are both responsible for the housework. We also both handle the banking, bill paying and investment decisions.当身处我们的婚姻这样一种民主制度中时,双方在投票表决权上各占一半,如果其中有一方(他或她)自封为独裁者并作出一个裁定,这就会让另一个人不快。一直以来,我都为自己是这段平等婚姻中的一份子而感到自豪。我们两个人都在赚钱养家,同时我也喜欢温柔地提醒我丈夫──娶我的这位南美绅士──两个人都应该承担一些家务。而在事务、账单付和投资决策方面,我们俩也是有商有量。But as illustrated by the #39;paint-gate#39; episode, sometimes it really doesn#39;t work to wait around for consensus to take hold. Sometimes you need to designate a trigger man to execute the final decision. And sometimes─and this is where it gets complicated─we need to assign ourselves that role and simply take over.但回到我刚刚提的“刷门”事件上,你会发现,有时候想要达成共识,光空等着根本就行不通。有时你需要指派一位“扣动扳机的男人”来作出最终的决定。还有一些时候──这种情况就很复杂了──我们需要自封为这个角色并坦然接受。In retrospect, I realize I did this a few years ago after our kids were born and I felt strongly that we did not have enough life insurance. For Alejandro it was a nonissue: None of his Uruguayan friends or family have life insurance, which he considered a symptom of Yankee neurosis. Getting insurance for myself was easy enough, but it felt awkward to demand that Alejandro take out a policy on himself. Combine that with the fact that when I can#39;t sleep, I watch those true-crime TV shows that are inevitably about one spouse who knocked off the other for the insurance money.回忆往事,我发觉自己在几年前就曾这样做过。那是在我们的孩子出生后,我强烈地感到一家人的人寿保险缴得不够多。而对亚历杭德罗来说,这根本就不是个问题:他在乌拉圭的家人朋友统统都没有人寿保险,所以在他看来,这完全是美国佬的神经质症状。要我为自己买一份保险是小事一桩,但如果要求亚历杭德罗也这么做会让我觉得尴尬为难。还有,那就是我在睡不着的时候会看一些根据真人真事拍的犯罪电视节目,那里面必然会上演这样的剧情:夫妻中的一方为了吞掉配偶的保险金而出手干掉对方。However, it was my absolute certainty that life insurance was essential that motivated him. Now we both have policies, and we both feel better for having them.尽管如此,我还是百分百确定,人寿保险对他来说必不可少且至关重要。正是这种坚定,促使我让他上了保险。现在我们俩都投了保,这也让我们感觉更好。One party having that total confidence that this is the right thing to do is, I believe, the first requirement for decree-making. It relates to the second requirement, which is a willingness to take responsibility for the consequences. It#39;s not always possible to completely mitigate the impact after the fact, but it#39;s important to let your spouse know you understand it will be your job to clean up any mess.我认为,作出独裁决定的首要前提就是:一方须完全确信自己要做的事是对的。而这又与第二个前提息息相关,那就是愿意为一切后果承担责任。虽然事后不可能完全消除所有的影响,但有一点很重要,就是要让你的伴侣知道,你非常清楚残局要归你来收拾。I got an opportunity last week to exercise some of my new theories on decree-making when we needed to clear out space in our garage, which we are converting to a guesthouse. I suggested selling our unneeded stuff on Craigslist.上周,就在我们需要清空车库、准备将其变成一间客房的时候,我得到了一个能将我自创的“独裁决定新理论”付诸实践的机会。我建议将家里用不上的东西放到在线分类网站Craigslist上出售。Alejandro was negative about Craigslist, arguing that he didn#39;t want strangers stopping by the house and that the payoff would be too small for the work of posting ads and fielding calls. At first, I let the items sit while we mentioned them to friends, hoping we might somehow luck into a taker.而亚历杭德罗却一口否决了在Craigslist上卖旧物的想法,他争辩说不想让陌生人到家里来,而且跟刊登广告和接答电话的工作付出相比,卖东西的所得太少了。一开始,我依了他,就将物品闲置在家里,但向朋友们宣传了旧物出售的消息,希望就这样靠运气,没准儿会寻来买家。Finally, I decided this was silly: I knew selling them on Craigslist was the right thing to do, and I was willing to do the work of vetting calls and receiving customers. A week later, our garage was empty and we were a few hundred dollars richer. Alejandro can hardly remember why he didn#39;t like the Craigslist idea and is happy to have been overruled.但最终,我觉得这种方式太愚蠢了:我知道把它们放在Craigslist上出售才是正确的事情,我也愿意去做筛选来电和接待买家的工作。一周以后,车库就被清空了,我们的手头也多出了几百美金。现在,亚历杭德罗很难想起自己当初为什么不喜欢在Craigslist上卖东西的主意,他也乐于接受自身建议被否决的事实。And, oddly enough, that#39;s how I feel about the house paint and some other decisions that my beloved temporary dictator has unilaterally imposed.说来也怪,在刷房子和其他一些由我心爱的临时独裁者单方面敲定的事情上,我也颇有同感。I may even work my way up to saying #39;you were right.#39; But first let#39;s see how the house looks when the paint dries.也许,我会争取说一声“你是对的。”但在这之前,先让我们等油漆干了,瞧瞧房子的模样再说吧。 /201305/242252

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