Monday, January 9, 2012

Lo siento, no hablo Español

Last week a woman approached me and asked, "Eh-scuse me, ¿habla usted español?"

Dear lord, I'm the man who took 3 years of high school Spanish and a semester of advanced college Spanish and forgot how to say "No" the last time someone asked me that.

Hint: it's "No."

Thankfully, by the time I squeezed my fingers an inch apart and started worrying about whether it was racist to say "pequeño" with an accent or not, she got out, "It's okay, I speak little English." I asked her in English what she was looking for, and–to my great happiness–it was a cognate.

"Biblia." Real easy. Took her to the kids bibles. Because in English "-ia" reminds me of diminutives. As we arrived it ocurred to me she may have wanted adult bibles and just happened to be holding her baby. She started a pitying sound of disagreement, but finally, without thought, I began to process in entry-level, no-verb Spanish.

"Oh, ¿bibles para niños? ¿O para adultos?"


"Ah!" and then I might have added "Aquí," or I might have just added that to my memory as I wordlessly motioned her around to the 'Libros En Español' shelves and grabbed one nice-looking Catholis Spanish language bible. She was very happy. I was proud, for my part, and only seconds later did I find the bookseller who actually speaks fluent Spanish.

Sometimes I feel a little useless with my Spanish, at least until I find something like this:

Now, knowing internet memes as I do, I got the gist pretty quickly. Took minutes and an online translator to get the exact words, but the translation itself requires some adjusting. For those of you who speak neither Spanish nor internet, the above image reads:

"Did you know that the speed of semen during ejaculation is 32 kilometers per hour? Neither did Carol, but she knows now."

Sometimes, I love my weird, inside-out brain.

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