|Spanish isn’t my second language. I had to stop and get gas the other day and happened to stop at a store in a neighborhood that has a growing Hispanic population. As I breezed through the front entrance I was met with the loudest Salsa music that I have ever heard. Trying to get into the swing of things I looked at the clerk and shouted Ole’ a couple of times. I walked twice around the large sombrero display that was advertising the Coke special of the week and belted out one more Ole’ for good measure.
I wanted to get a bag of chips but I’m tired of the brands and flavors that they have in my area. I wanted to try something different. I came across a display that was selling authentic Hispanic snacks: Wheat pellets with chili & lemon, that’s what the label said. I thought they looked more like BBQ pork rinds.
I grabbed a bag and headed on over to the counter. I thought I would try out my language skills.
“Caliente”? I asked.
“No, they’re not hot at all. And the word is comida for spicy, not caliente”, said the clerk.
“Are they any good”?
As my head continued to bob and pound along to the pulsating and throbbing music I watched the girl ring up my transaction and hold up my bag of wheat pellets to another clerk and they both started laughing, in Spanish.
When they looked at me I gave a big grin and smiled like an idiot. I didn’t know what they were laughing about. That’s what you do in situations like that when you don’t understand the language—you either talk really loud or smile like an idiot.
I grabbed my purchases, gave them another Ole’ and out the door I went, smug in the fact that I had tried to speak with someone in their own language.
You’ve probably figured out that this story isn’t going to end well. I was able to eat five (5) of those comida, caliente things before my tongue went numb and I started to sweat. I had to toss the rest of the bag. Now, I realized why they were laughing at me. Stupid American is probably what they were thinking. We’ll teach you to make fun of us.
Or maybe, Touché!