Es Muy Simpatico!
As per my bucket list post, I am trying to learn French, German, and Spanish. I was going to start with French since it is spoken around my house daily, but I got a better deal on a Spanish learning set for the car.
Up until now, my only Spanish has been the cuss words and the line “The cheese is old and moldy, where’s the bathroom?” from Encino Man. Unless I work in a cheese tasting facility or am a taxi driver I need to learn a bit more.
So far I’ve learned how to say car, van, motorcycle, bus and bicycle and to give them adjectives. I’ve also learned a little bit about money, time, and jobs. Knowing some words and repeating phrases is one thing. Actually carrying a conversation with someone is another…as I sadly found out.
I live in Houston which, if anyone is not familiar with, has a large Hispanic population. Luckily, this means I can get a lot of practice as long as I’m willing to talk to people. Unfortunately, I’m still in the early stages of learning. The following is the conversation I tried to have at the gas station this morning:
Hispanic Man: “Hola.”
Me: “Permiso Senor. Que hora es?” (Excuse me Sir. What time is it?)
Hispanic Man: “afjwotighwrgiopenkgjasklgjfgsgjsg” (I couldn’t make out a single word)
Me: “Gracias.” (I pretend to know what he’s saying and thank him)
Ok, strike one. I’m not giving up though. Just an fyi, I looked up “permiso senor” and I don’t have it directly translating to “excuse me, sir” so perhaps that is where I went wrong. I am completely at the mercy of these audio CDs.
Next victim.The taqueria lady.
Taqeria Lady: “Hola. ¿Qué puedo hacer por ti?” (Hello, what can I get you?)
Me: (I don’t really understand but I’m sure she’s asking what I want) “Dos tacos por favor. Maize.” ( I say this in the most white-sounding way possible)
T.L.: “¿Qué tipo de carne?” (What kind of meat?)
Me: (I know the word “Que”, “de” and “carne” from previous experience. I don’t know what “tipo” means but I’ll assume she’s asking what kind of meat I want.)*I point at what I assume is sausage and egg* “Chorizo y huevos por favor.”
She scoops it into the corn tortillas.
T.L.: “Viene con arroz y frijoles.”(It comes with rice and beans)
Me: (I think she is asking if I want beans on it.)”No.” (So now I’ve pretty much told her that she’s wrong and it doesn’t come with rice and beans)
She just kind of stares as me and then realizes I don’t understand and says in broken English:
T.L.: “No. Eets free. Jew Want?”
Me: “No, thank you.”
I’m not going to eat beans this early in the morning or my colleagues will hate me and I’m totally oblivious that she mentioned rice. Also, at this point, I’ve attracted the attention of a few Spanish speakers who are kind of laughing at my failed attempt. I hear in the background “...gringo…blah blah blah….gringo“.
Yes, I realize I’m a stupid white guy trying to speak Spanish. But at least I’m trying, right?
Sensing blood in the water, the other taqueria lady comes over and says:
Taqeria Tormenter #2: “¿Eso es todo? ¿Puedo obtener un poco de salsa?” (Is that all? Would you like a little salsa?)
Ha! The joke is on her. I understand that she’s asking me if that’s it and if I want a little salsa.
Me: “Si. Soy mucho caliente salsa.” (Yes. I am much hot sauce.) I say it with confidence and enthusiasm which causes a riot of laughter from everyone around.
That was pretty much the end of my gas station trip. I quickly grabbed my food and headed out the door trying not to look like a wounded puppy.
If you’re wondering how I know what they were saying, i vigorously looked up words and used Google Translate this morning to discover my mistakes. I’m not quite sure if I’m going to be able to bring myself to go back to that gas station in the morning. I have this fear that when I walk in there are going to be a crowd of Hispanic people shouting “Caliente Salsa!”
We’ll see how brave I am…
Caliente Salsa, out.