Me Siento Como Un “Asshole” Cuando Intento Hablar Espanol.

This was recorded for Keyscast.

Down here in the Keys, it behooves a person to speak Spanish. This is true in much of Florida, with the exception of South Beach, where it is more important to speak Russian. But I only visited South Beach. I live in the Keys. So I must speak some Spanish. And there are tres reasons why this is not going well:

Reason number one: I am an adult person of reasonable intelligence, and I figured, when I decided to move, that learning Spanish would be no problemo, because I already spoke halfway-decent French. And I was right: That I didn’t speak Spanish when I got here was, in fact, no problem.

What the problem is is that I do speak halfway decent French. So what happens is that I go into the Winn-Dixie, where they have terrific cafe con leches.  And I have my part memorized: I say, “Dos cafe con leches, no azucar, por favor.” And the coffee-lady says “Hokay.” And I say “Gracias.”  And that works great.

But when I go in and say “Dos cafe con leches, no azucar, por favor”, and she says something like, “No cafes; machine no trabajo,” then I get lost, and get them confused, and kinda panic, and start speaking Spench. It’s a terrible trilingual pidgin, like “Oh, um, then, uh, por favor, deux regular cafes. Au lait. Comprendez-vous ‘regular’? No-no, no Cubano. Reg-you-lar.  Con ‘Sweet and Low’.  Beaucoup.”

I’m like Christian Bale – I am a tremendous jerk without memorized lines.

Reason number two: I tend to get caught up in details. Let’s go back to the previous example. If I was working at a coffeeshop in Chicago, and someone came in and ordered “Two coffee with milks also sugars”, I’d probably figure it out. But me, I obsessed for days over whether it was “dos cafe con leches” or “dos cafes con leche. I tried to ask, but when I said “Is it dos cafe con leches ou dos cafes con leche the woman looked at me sympathetically and said “Jes, two coffee.  Ju wai’ here two minute.”

Reason number 3: In my deepest heart of hearts, I believe that, when speaking Spanish to people who already speak Spanish, I sound like a complete idiot. That when I have walked away from the conversation, the people who have listened to me butcher their native tongue stop stifling their giggles and begin doing unkind impressions of me. Or worse, that they are annoyed by my murderous pronunciations and inadvertent substitutions of French articles, and I will catch them rolling their eyes when next I approach.

But I’m trying to get over it. So I’ve learned some basic Spanish phrases, useful in the Keys, which I will, in the interest of public service, now teach to you:

“Which way is Duval Street?”

“Donde esta Duval Street?”

“Margarita, with salt, please.”

“Margarita con sal, por favor.”

“I’m being tailgated again.”

“El coche esta demasiado cercano otra vez.”

“At home it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.”

“En mi pais, se congelan las bolas de mi mono.”

“You want me to pay how much for this tiny fucking house?”

“¿Usted quisiera que pagara cuanto para esta casa de mierda minascula? Ay caramba!”

“Thanks for listening! See you next week!”

“Gracias por escuchar! ¡Hasta la vista!”