“Spanglish” by Jennifer N. Martin
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Travel.”
A few years ago, my husband, Bud, and I were planning to go on a Mediterranean cruise. I had studied Spanish in college, but Bud had never taken a foreign language class, not even in high school. Since our first stop was Barcelona, and we’d be spending a few pre-cruise days there, I thought he should learn a bit of Spanish, so I bought him an expensive set of beginning Spanish tapes. He had retired a few years earlier and had lots of time to play the tapes at home and in his car. I was happy to see he’d finally be learning the rudiments of a foreign language. Or so I thought.
I was still working at the time, so often when I’d come home after a long, tiring day from school where I was a high school administrator, he’d greet me with a friendly camisa! (shirt), autobus! (bus) or some other word he’d learned that day. He was really good at rolling his R’s, too, uttering national del ferrocarrilo every chance he got, although why he thought he’d need to say “national railroad” during our cruise vacation was beyond me. However, I felt assured he was making progress. By the time we’d get to Spain, I was sure he’d be able to master a simple conversation in Spanish.
Soon we were on the plane headed for Europe. I couldn’t wait to hear him show off what he had learned. We went out to dinner the first night we were there, and I thought Bud would be able to order our meal in Spanish. But the waiter spoke to us in perfect English, blowing Bud’s chance to take advantage of his newly acquired linguistic skills.
On our second day in a hotel room in Barcelona, though, Bud accidentally dropped a glass on the marble bathroom floor, scattering shards everywhere. He tiptoed out into the bedroom to tell me.
“Now’s your chance to use your Spanish,” I told him. “See if you can find someone to help clean up the mess.”
“Right,” he said, smiling tightly. “I’ll be right back.”
He went out into the hallway and motioned for a hotel maid to come into the room. Then he pointed to the bathroom and stammered, “Uh . . . uh . . .” Finally, he summoned up all of his newfound Spanish speaking ability, pantomimed dropping a glass, and blurted out, “POW!”
“Si, si,” the maid said as she scurried away to bring back her cleaning cart.
“Pow?” I asked, incredulously. “I spent all that money on tapes and that’s all you could say? Pow isn’t even Spanish.”
“Well, I never got around to learning any verbs. Just the nouns,” he admitted. “But it worked, didn’t it? That maid and I communicated quite well. She understood me perfectly.”
I wanted to slap the smirk right off his cara (face).
After Spain, we went on to tour France, Italy and Greece. In France, Bud got kicked out of a bar when he asked for a bottle of water in Spanish because he didn’t know French, and he thought they wouldn’t appreciate English. We ended up getting bottled water at a McDonald’s in Nice. But he had no trouble ordering limoncello in Italy because it was pronounced just like the Spanish would say it. And he guzzled it just like he thought they would. Such an honorable gesture, wouldn’t you say?
It’s been years since that Mediterranean cruise, but Bud still likes to practice Spanish, especially in restaurants, using words like ensalada (salad) and pollo (chicken)—all so he can claim to everyone that he’s bilingual.
I just smile, secretly glad that he hasn’t quite figured out that his Spanglish is the real reason we only visit English-speaking countries now. Lately, though, I’ve noticed he’s been saying aloha and mahalo a lot, so perhaps he’s gearing up linguistically for another trip to Hawaii.
Heads turn when I call him “Paki,” his Hawaiian name. Paki means Bud, but the kind of bud the Hawaiians think of when they hear that is paki lolo or “crazy bud,” another name for marijuana. Now that I think about it, Paki Lolo fits him perfectly.
Jennifer N. Martin is a retired school administrator and former university professor. She is also an award-winning novelist (The Huna Warrior: The Magic Begins), screenwriter (Breaking Ground for Peace) and professional speaker. This year, Jennifer’s third book, Psoriasis–A Love Story, was published. This latest creative effort tells about her 30-year struggle to heal herself of psoriasis by going outside the confines of traditional medicine and embracing alternative treatments and protocols. Visit her website at http://www.JenniferNMartin.com.
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Travel.” The book features 58 travel stories from around the world. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/108SSFD) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1tAGDZF).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.