Learning a new language takes a while. Even though I have wished it many times, you can’t go to bed one night and wake up in the morning fluent in a language of your choice. It just does not work that way. It takes classes, practice and actually attempting to communicate with native speakers. Now, this last part can be a bit spooky, but Old Mamasan is not easily scared. However, I have embarrassed myself a couple of times 🙂
One day, straight out of Spanish class, I met with a friend for lunch. My friend is fluent in Spanish. Knowing that I need, and want, the practice, she leaves it up to me to communicate with the waiter. Well, I do suspect that she also lets me do the talking, because she knows it will be entertaining. For her!
Of course I want my friend to be impressed at the speed I grow my Spanish vocabulary. We don’t even get to order our lunch before I manage to set the mood for the day. To answer my friends question on how class was today, I take the opportunity to swoon her with a word I just learned. I say to her «Soy aburrido.» My friend bursts out laughing, and I instantly believe that it is the fact that I used present tense as opposed to past tense, that amuses her. At this time I can only speak Spanish in the present tense. My friend agrees in what I just told her, that I am boring, and tells me, while shamelessly giggling, that I used the wrong verb, I should have said «Estoy aburrido».(I am bored) We laugh it off and in comes the waiter.
I don’t even look at the menu; I know what I want to order. I have just learned a another new word in Spanish class, and this is an opportune time to use it. Wanting to impress both the waiter and my friend, I proudly, and loudly, order a «Pecho de polla». My friend and the waiter both burst out laughing. Well, actually, my friend bursts out laughing, and the waiter, polite as he is, would have tried to hide just a quiet giggle, if it weren’t for my friend blatantly laughing at my order of chicken breast. Some friend, eh?
Well, it turns out that the word I just learned in class, does mean breast or chest. Of people! Not animals. If you want chicken breast, its «pechuga de pollo«. And yes, I also got the chicken part wrong. Pollo is chicken. Polla is something else. No, I don’t want to say it. No, I really don’t! Ok, just because you are twisting my arm; its dick.
Naturally, my face is bright red and I feel really warm, almost feverish, at this point. Not that I mind making a fool of myself, I do that often, but so many home runs in a matter of minutes is more than I can bear. In an attempt to save face, I pick up the menu and fan myself with it, «estoy caliente.» More laughter. My friend is really trying to get it together, but fails miserably. Old Mamasan is really not impressed by all this laughing in my face when I try to practice the very little Spanish I know. (What I should have said to explain the red face and the sweating is «tengo calor«, as opposed to telling them that I am horny)
My go-to move in a situation like this, is to take on the role of the victim. You know, I am so not amused by you bullying me and so forth. I give my friend the evil eye, and while reaching for my smokes I tell her how embarrassed I feel, «Embarazada”. My friend laughs so hard that tears are rolling down her cheeks; she is clasping the table with both hands, just to keep from falling of her chair. The waiter has to go away and laugh it off. At this point I am as confused as freshly released flatulence in a wicker chair. What did I just say?
As I light up my cigarette, my friend composes herself just long enough to say that «you really should lay off the smokes when you are pregnant, but if you meant to say that you are embarrassed, «me da vergüenza», then go right ahead and light that sucker up!»
My friend will never let me live that one down. Ever.