Friday, March 09, 2007

Hablo muy poco Español. Sort of.

Having been born in San Antonio, Texas and growing up in a town close to the Mexican border, it is truly a crime that I never learned to speak Spanish.

Oh well. George Dubya grew up there and never learned to speak English.

Except for a few curse words, numbers, and your basic food items, I never learned to speak it. Latino kids in my generation that I grew up with were bilingual but that has pretty much died out with the subsequent generations.

My Spanish improved a bit when I began working as a restaurant manager in Texas many years ago. The guy that would scream out the orders to the cooks spoke really fast and clipped.

"Numero tres especial!! Dos sopapillas!! Guacamole dip!!"

"It sounds like you're saying guacamole dick."

So, from then on when he needed a serving of guacamole, we'd hear "guacamole verga!"

You can surmise what that meant.

When I moved to Chicago in 2001, I rented a house from a friend of mine which was located in the "immigrant" neighborhood. When he grew up in that house, the immigrants were Polish and Eastern European. Now they're all Latino.

I lived in that neighborhood for five years. You can go a month in that neighborhood and not hear one word of English. It was pretty cool. I did get used to sticking out in a crowd as a tall white guy after a while.

The neighborhood grocery store had a meat and cheese counter where you picked a number, waited for it to be called, and placed your order. All in Spanish. No exceptions.

So, unless I wanted to become a vegetarian, I had learn me some Spanish.

I found a pretty good translator website and would practice phrases before going to the grocery store. It was pretty lame at first. I hoped that I wouldn't pick a number in the sixties or seventies because I couldn't hear the difference.

I also mixed up the word for "pounds" (libras) with "books" (libros). So my first attempt at requesting three pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts came out something like this:

"I must have three books reqarding chicken breasts, no bone no leather. . . Please."

I love that fake crab stuff and they had it there at really good prices:

"I want one books of crab that imitates . . . Please."

After a while, though, I got to the point where they wouldn't smirk at me. I could even ask that they trim the fat off the skirt steak and order a meal in a restaurant.

I never did request a guacamole verga though.


At 9:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dooder, I can't believe no one else commented on this one! I thought this was hilarious! :)

"I want one books of crab that imitates . . . Please." HA! :)


Poodle :)


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