Thursday, June 7, 2007

Se habla español

Sometimes people feel uncomfortable when someone near them is speaking in another language. "What if they're talking about me?", they wonder.

There are two ways of knowing whether you are a subconsciously self-centered individual - if you meet a gay person and immediately become uncomfortable because you are operating under the assumption that they've automatically got the hots for you, and if you hear a foreign language being spoken in your general vicinity and you think that they're trash-talking you behind your back (or, if you're that kind of woman, that they're complimenting you in a lascivious manner).

It's not all about you. But, as proof, I'll recount some conversations I've overheard in Spanish.

Conversation #1: two guys, overheard while standing in line at Ross Dress for Less:

Fulano: Hey, those are nice pants you got there.
Mengano: Thanks, they're linen.
Fulano: Okay.
Mengano: Usually I don't like linen because it wrinkles easily, but the cut of these pants is really nice, like they were Italian or something.
Fulano: I see.
Mengano: Plus they'll look really nice with that black shirt I have.
Fulano: Would you like a sewing machine for your birthday, corazón?
Mengano: Shut up, pendejo. I have class.

Conversation #2: four guys sitting behind me on the bus, apparently just off of work:

Guy #1: The job's okay, but it gets boring after a while. I need to bring in a radio or something.
Guy #2: Yeah, listening to music helps.
Guy #1: They have one at work but it doesn't get good reception and it only takes cassettes. I don't have cassettes.
Guy #3: I have one on me, do you want to borrow it?
Guy #1: Sure, what's on it?
Guy #3: It's all Tigres del Norte.
They all laugh hard.
Guy #1: No, pendejo, seriously, what's on it?

Conversation #3: two guys, one a teenager, one in his thirties, on the bus:

Teenager: I want to ask Maribel out.
Older guy: She's going to slap you if you do.
Teenager: That's okay, I'll probably like it.
Older guy: Yeah, but that means she doesn't like you.
Teenager shrugs
Older guy, shaking his head: Idiot.

So, you see, not only were these conversations not about you, all trash-talking was directed at a participant in the conversation. No one was calling you a pendejo or an idiot, they weren't laughing at you, and ladies, they weren't checking you out and saying slimy things in Spanish.

Not to say I haven't overheard conversations about someone nearby. On the rare occasion that it happens, it's pretty harmless. I heard this one while walking down the street.

Guy #1: That girl is beautiful. If only she were ten years older...
Guy #2: Don't you mean, what if you were ten years younger?
Guy #1: No, the older you get, the more interesting you get. I like women who are interesting.

See? They were talking about you, but nice things were said. Don't you wish you could have understood that conversation? Of course you do. Now go learn Spanish, because if nothing else, maybe that will make you less paranoid.


El Bilo said...

This blog gets better all the time!

There are a lot of "Elaine" types out there out getting their nails done at Korean shops getting paranoid.Perhaps for good reason.

So, either Americans learn to speak Korean or start going to Nails-R-Us ...

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with my "Tio Billy", the blog is getting better and better...You and Billito both have turned out to be kick ass writers. I'm proud!

Anyway, I wish I could learn at least the language they use at the nail place that I frequent,( I say this 'cause I don't know if it's Korean, Philipino or I don't even know what other Asian language, and believe me, they're many).

Sometimes I'm getting a pedicure and a customer comes in and they start talking in their language and I wonder if they're saying: "damn another bitch that ones to get her toes done"!

Your mind can run wild...Usually, if you're not in your native country, people will find it rude that you speak in another language in their country, most of the times people do this to say things that they don't want you to understand. Comprendes?

Is my self-esteem down? Hold on, I'm leaving to get my cervezas and maybe my self-esteem will go up?

billy said...

I happen to be on the other side of this fence, most of the time, they ARE talking about me!

I find it extremely rude. There are a few people here who speak Spanish, and they don't realize I can understand most words, but lack the ability to come up with them on my own to communicate.

Sometimes I think they're saying nice things, but other times, I just don't know!