Gracias a dios for all those Spanish-speakers who work at Trader Joe's with me. They keep me on my toes... linguistically speaking, that is. My tall friend from Peru has this funny way of taking one joke and beating it into the ground until the absurdity of it makes me laugh even more and the funniness somehow renews itself. He's developed this habit of saying, pues, hombre... outloud whenever he's within twenty feet of me. It translates basically into, "well, dude... " and is, according to him, the cornerstone of Spain Spanish. He's pretty much relentlessly made fun of me for my Spain-Spanish accent ever since I returned from Madrid two summers ago. I'm sure I've lost most of that accent by now, yet still, he insists on beginning every other sentence with, pues, hombre... Or, hell, using it as a sentence all unto itself. Pues, hombre. But only around me.
He is fluent in English, and I find that when he talks to me in Spanish (which is 75 percent of the time), I largely respond in... well, English. He spurts out these long tirades of Spanish and I'll reply with, "well, wouldn't it just be better to move it on top of that box?" or "yeah, but what makes you think I'd do that?" or "come on, leave me alone, it's been a long day." It's soooo much easier. But my more-than occasional struggle with conversation really puts it back into perspective. Am I really that low of a speaker? How much DO I know? What exactly do I have to show for nine years of studying this language if I can't even pick the right words half the time?
Halfway through my shift, I mentioned something about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and my friend from Colombia claimed to have never heard of the story. I waited until I had the complete focus to try telling him in Spanish. I could have summed it up in half the time in English, but I wanted to see if I could step up to the challenge. It went más o menos así ("more or less this way") Spanglish and all:
Okay, here's the story...
Había un chico y algún día
--porque tenía ganas de hacerlo, no sé--
gritó, "LOBO! LOBO!"
Y un hombre vino corriendo, "Qué lobo?! Dónde?!"
Y el chico era como, "Jaja! Es una broma! No hay lobo! Jaja!"
'Cause there wasn't really a wolf there, you know?
He was just pretending.
El chico decidió otra vez causar problemas o algo
y gríto, "LOBO! LOBO!"...
aunque otra vez no había lobo.
Y otra vez el hombre vino corriendo and was like,
"En serio?! Dónde está?!"
Y el chico se rió de él porque todavía era broma,
"Jaja, me creiste? Idiota!"
Okay, so you see where this is going?
So, la tercera vez...
Oh, and I forgot to tell you!
The boy was a... a... ovejas...
Cómo se llama alguien que cuida ovejas?...
Yeah, a shepherd or something...
Entonces, la tercera vez...
porque la primera vez y la segunda vez
no había lobo y el chico gritó que sí...
la tercera vez, sí, había lobo,
y cuando gritó, "LOBO! LOBO!"
Yeah, you got it. The guy didn't believe him.
Nadie lo creyó.
So the moral of the story...
How do you say moral? Oh yeah, that.
... es que... if you are always lying,
no one will believe you when you really need help.
Okay, so it was half in English. It's hard. My friend said I did a very good job telling my story... but he sort of has to say stuff like that 'cause I'm a girl and might cry otherwise.
Here's a real Spanish version of the story. Much more descriptive than mine, I must say, but probably with a less charismatic storyteller.