Estudie Espanol en la escuela secondaria (I think that says I studied Spanish in high school. It is highly possible I mucked it up—the same is possible for the line above and the title. Because you see... I haven't used it in a LONG time... and last time I DID use it, I misunderstood someone VERY badly and became the butt of many jokes between my family and some of our good friends... Maybe THAT is the story I ought to tell.
When we first moved to Ann Arbor my daughter was in kindergarten and we lived in an Apartment complex because our house in Portland hadn't sold yet. The complex had some other families, and two families had daughters in my daughter's kindergarten class... neither family spoke English.
Nadia's family was Russian, and her mom was nice, but very quiet, and NOBODY had very strong English (the dad might have—he was a computer programmer for a bank and seemed to work a lot—I only met him briefly). This may shock you, but I speak no Russian. So we enjoyed them, but the bonding was sort of limited.
But Annabelle's family was Colombian* and spoke SPANISH... not only, though, did they speak Spanish, but they had 3 kids, 2 in school, and the older son was a pretty good translater, and the DAD ran a painting business, so he had an accent, but understood and could speak English pretty well.
|Like Snow White and Rose Red, eh?|
Natalie and Annabelle became fast friends very quickly... and then summer came and we bought our house... sad, that... to move from a friend when you are 6... But the house we bought sat next to an empty house, and one day I saw a woman poking around. I talked her. She wanted to sell, but the house needed a lot of fixing and she couldn't afford to fix it... I connected the woman with Miguel, who I knew had the skill and connections to fix a house... (and a business to finance against, when a normal lender would not consider a fixer-upper) and they became our next door neighbors.
Their family was in Colombia. Ours was out west... we became close (holidays together close). Their youngest daughter, then 3, used to ring our doorbell and say “Bob” (pronounced Bobe)... do you KNOW how cute that is for a toddler to come over to see the man of the house? (don't tell HWMNBMOTI that I let his name slip).
Well a few months in, Miguel's brother Hernando moved in with them. Hernando spoke NO English... not a word... Ninguna palabra. Nada. (for the record, HWMNBMOTI speaks no language but English. Not. A. Word.)
(this is where I get to the story... you thought I forgot, didn't you?) The (other) details you might need:
So Hernando and HWMNBMOYI used to sit and have these non-conversation conversations, which was amusing... (okay, so you don't need that, but it used to amuse me, these two grown men who couldn't understand each other but liked each other so well)
I completely didn't understand ANY of the Spanish I heard, with one exception. Juan, the older brother, spoke slowly and enunciated clearly (I suspect he spoke Spanish like I speak English... I'm a slow speaker... no ums or ahs... just what I mean to say, but slow).
I had to TRY with Hernando because... you know... he spoke no English. We had an excellent conversation about ducks once (patas)... Because I understood Juan, I thought maybe my difficulty was one of vocabulary... you know how in English there are a dozen words for any given meaning... attractive is pretty, beautiful, gorgeous, handsome, hot, foxy (what? You don't hear foxy anymore?)... Well I half convinced myself Hernando used the lesser taught synonyms for common words *shifty* (call it a defense mechanism)
Final fact... when family comes to visit from Colombia, they stay for... MONTHS (like 3-6)... VISIT is a term used for 'live with for a while'. It's a little baffling for Americans who are used to 2 weeks vacation a year and would NEVER impose themselves on their kids for that long, but that's a cultural thing (and I think one where Americans are actually the world minority) [you understand when I say Americans, I generally mean United Statesians... because of course Colombia IS in America (South America) which I know...]
Is that enough set-up for you?
So Miguel and Hernando's mother had been there... months... 3, I think... and Hernando comes to visit, distraught. He tells me 'mi madre se fue' (my mother has gone). I say 'lo siento' (I'm sorry)... he makes a motion to clarify... hands together, shooting at an angle toward the sky... heaven, right?... “lo siento” I say again... I'm sad now, too... tell the hubby... hubby goes next door and gives condolences...
I wish you all Un Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Tenga algo con tequila y baila una merengue! (and that is meant to say, in case I mucked it up (but don't correct me, that will only annoy me) a happy Cinco de Mayo! Drink something with tequila and dance a merengue... in case that wasn't clear)
and of course it's Thursday, so whatever you decide to do, you must do it NAKED!
* I am completely aware El Cinco de Mayo is about MEXICO (and their independence from France) and my story is about my Colombian friends... and that Mexico and Colombia are separate and very different, and share only language... but it's my blog, and since the story is about language, I went with it...