On Orioles and Areolas

It’s Monday!  Good morning and welcome from a balmy Cebu.

I had a great weekend and hope you have, too.  You know when something really makes you laugh, the dopamine gets flowing and you’re in a good mood the rest of the day?

Well, let me tell you about my Saturday.

“It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane…  It’s a….”

Hung-Wah sent me a WhatsApp with this picture.

Underneath the picture, the message read, “Isn’t this the medical name for a nipple?”

I burst out laughing.

Of course the words are very close.

You don’t need to be an ornithologist to know what an oriole is. You just need to be a baseball fan.

Of course, an oriole is a bird.

But an areola?  It’s the pigmented ring of skin around the nipple.

Unbeknownst to me when I learned the word, the whole thing isn’t actually a nipple.  The nipple is just the part where the milk comes out.

Part of the reason why I was laughing so hard is because I remember where I first learned of the word “areola.”

I had learned that word from a mutual friend of Hung-Wah’s and mine, named Adrian.

Adrian is a charming, handsome dude, with a full head of hair.  The chicks loved him.  He got laid like train tracks.

I remember we were talking in a London pub one night over our pints of Kronenbourg 1664 and we were describing our “perfect woman.”

Adrian said, “I love women with perky nipples, but I don’t like their areolas to be too big.”

I looked at him, I said, “WTF is an areola?”

He looked back at me and said, “Ah, you stupid Yank. The areola is the dark part of the skin around the nipple.”

I looked at him and I said, “I didn’t even know they had a name for that.”

All of this is very funny to me because it brings me back to that point Socrates made 2,500 years ago or so where he said, “The first step to knowledge is the definition in terms.” 

I’m absolutely convinced we lose mountains of time because we don’t know what we’re talking about.  To wit: acronyms.

Everybody loves acronyms. Everybody in Singapore loves acronyms. Everybody in Hong Kong loves acronyms. I’m convinced part of the US government was invented to come up with acronyms to hide all the shit they pull.

But acronyms are dangerous.

Let’s Bring in Some SMEs

My good buddy, Reto, once told a story during one of his classes.  He is a great financial trainer and we are still pretty close, so I hope he doesn’t mind me using this story.

It was about two Swiss executives across the conference table from each other, arguing over what now seems to be a ridiculous point.

One manager had suggested that they bring in some SMEs to study the problem.

The other manager thought that was the most ridiculous idea he’d ever heard. “Why would we want to bring in SMEs to talk about this problem? That’s a dumb idea.”

The conversation went on for a good five minutes with them arguing, increasingly acrimonious. 

But one of them had the good sense to say, “Hang on a minute. What do you mean by SMEs?” 

The other replied, “Subject matter experts.”

The one who had asked the question and rolled his eyes and sheepishly said, “I’m very sorry. I thought you were talking about small-medium enterprises.”

These are highly paid adults, I hasten to remind you.

Fancy a Cobra?

That reminds me of perhaps the most embarrassing incident that happened when I first moved to London. It’s also one of the most hilarious.  Luckily, it happened long enough ago for me to actually enjoy retelling the story.

When I first secured my transfer to London, my boss, Enver, who I mentioned in a previous Rude, was pretty upset about it.

But he got over it quickly and came over to London for a business meeting.  We decided to go out to dinner with good friends and colleagues of ours, Simon and Rob.

It was just going to be a nice night out, but I had never had curry before.

I know that sounds ridiculous because there are thousands of Indian people who live in New Jersey.  But my parents just hate spicy food, so I never ate Indian, Thai, or Mexican until I got older. Incredibly, I love all those cuisines now.

Let me preface this for you.

If you’re American, you know when we go out, we get drunk and then we usually get a slice of pizza. Or if you’re in Philly, you get a cheesesteak.  I’m sure other cities have their favorite drunken food of choice.

As England was the colonial overlord of India for centuries, you usually get curry.  Or maybe a kebab.  But curry is everyone’s first choice.

The boys took me to this lovely place in St. Katharine’s Dock called Mala.  (It’s since relocated to Westferry Circus.)

It was right next to The Dickens Inn, a pub I loved.

So we went out and had a couple of pints first and then went to Mala.

This was my first time, so I’m like, “You guys need to order for us. I have no idea what this food’s about.”

My only reference to Indian food was watching movies, so I let them handle it.

The first thing they say to the waiter is, “Can we get a few papadums and four Cobras?”

I said, “Okay,” and the conversation just went on as if nothing happened.

Increasingly, sweat was covering my brow and no one seemed to bat an eyelash over those Cobras. I was like, “Ah, that’s pretty interesting.”

I was sitting here across from Simon who had been guiding me around England, who’s one of the best dudes I’ve ever known. He’s still working in the City of London.

I looked at Simon and said, “Cobras.”

He went, “Yeah, of course.”

I said, “Of course.”

I looked at him again about two minutes later and went, “Cobras?”

He went, “Yeah, Cobras.”

And I just couldn’t help myself any longer, the suspense was killing me. I looked at him and said, “Simon, you mean like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?”

Literally that microsecond, the waitress put down four Cobras.


Simon wet himself laughing.  Rob and Enver were cracking up.

I had never been so embarrassed in my whole life.

And that was my first night’s journey on learning what would become my second language, British English.

Maybe that’s why I’m so hung up on vocabulary, terms, lingo, and jargon.

Luckily, no harm was done.

But boy, there are some potholes in business you don’t want to run over for not speaking someone’s language.

Hope that brought a smile to your face.

Have a wonderful Monday and a great week ahead!

All the best,


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