Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Donde Esta La Biblioteca?

Learning a language at this age is impossible. All of us near the Mexican border studied spanish in high school and this is the only thing I remember of it. It means, 'Where is the library.' This would be so useful if I were ever in Mexico looking for a library. Since then, there have been many, many moments where I wish I had paid more attention in my high school spanish class because there are opportunities everyday to speak spanish in Texas. For example, if you don't understand an instructional manual in english, just keep reading and eventually the text turns into spanish. It will either encourage immediate cursing or some spanish word might make more sense to you than the english word. Let me know how that works for you.

I studied Italian for six years, but that was many years ago when I lived in New York. Believe it or not, there were occasions to use it on the streets of Manhattan, but I learned Italian because I went to Italy. A trip that not only changed my life but made me ANGRY that I wasn't BORN Italian. I must have been an Italian in a former life or something because the connection was staggering. So, whenever I go to Italy, I can understand what the lovely Italians are saying now. They are rarely able to understand what I'm saying however, because I've forgotten most of what I learned. Does that stop me? Pish posh!

So, I attend an Italian language meetup group twice a month here in the A-Town. We meet at an Italian restaurant and just sit around a table and eat, drink wine and speak Italian. It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys (Italian monkeys of course). If I had a hidden camera at these gatherings, it would horrify me, I'm watch myself struggling for a simple word in Italian like 'them' or 'house' or 'food.'

Luckily, we are all pretty much in the same leaky boat as we stutter and struggle and finally give up and whip out our mini dictionary. It's fun! Nevermind that the mistakes people make can be the time someone asked me in Italian, "What makes you and your friend so close?" With my best Italian accent (which is really good), I thought I answered with, "Because we understand each other," when instead what I said was, "Because we piss on each other." the reaction was immediate with mouths agape, an awkward 2 or 3 seconds of stunned silence, then hysterical guffaws at my expense. Evidently, the verb 'to understand' and the verb 'to piss' sound eerily similar. It was an innocent mistake.

That won't stop me, oh no. I'll continue to embarrass myself until I'm living happily in my villa in Siena asking my housekeeper in Italian to please bring me biscotti and some Vin Santo!!



My favorite phrase in spanish is 'Que lastima!'. I don't know why I never forgot that. It means 'what a shame' or 'too bad!'. And KK turned me on to her favorite word in Spanish which is 'rascacielo' That means 'skyscraper'. Somebody at the dry cleaners called me a puta loca once when I was in a hurry and accidentally cut in front of her. I thought she was leaving. So I think puta loca must mean 'hurried lady' or maybe 'crazy whore'. I'm not sure.

I had four years of French in high school. It sucked because the teacher was my sister's husband's aunt and she was somewhat of a puritan. Actually, she may have been a chartreuse or is it chanteuse (in high school it's hard to imagine your french teacher having sex). But also you just don't want to discuss the french word for Budwieser with someone who knows your mother's telephone number.

I don't understand why there are so many different languages. Didn't everybody speak Latin at one time? Or maybe African? So then if they migrated to America and France and Sweden...why didn't they keep speaking the same language? That way, we'd all speak only one language and you wouldn't have to translate stuff like 'where is the bathroom?', 'whatever' or 'dude, s'up?'. No matter where you went you would be able to understand everybody. But no, some dickhead had to speak up and say, 'Hey, now that we are in a new place I vote we start speaking a different language! Who's with me!' And everybody did and now look at the fix we're in. Now you have to know the word for asshole in six languages just to make it alive from
Brooklyn to Madison Square Garden on the subway.

So sayanora for today. Areevadairchi, hasta la vista, aloha, chiao, see ya, voulez vous couchet avec moi su soir, buenos snow shoes, owf veederzane, chinga tu madre and have a nice day...



Debbie in NC said...

Oh, I so agree about the Italian topic. I want an Italian family and I want to live in Italy. I visited there back in the 80's but didn't get enough of it!

I know no Italian words but would happily plop myself down over there and just drink in the culture and find a family to adopt me!

Lisa B. said...

"chinga tu madre"?!?!...did you really say that SalGal!! I know that one!! You two got me laughing out loud with this one! I thought I had reached the apex when KK said "Because we piss on each other."...but you just can't beat a well placed "chinga tu madre"!

Mental P Mama said...

I'm just thinking that we all need to go on an "Eat, Pray, Love" trip. Any takers?

Canny Granny said...

Oh you poor poor dears!
When I was just a nipper at school, we learned Latin from the sweet-faced nuns in their starched white wimples and starched black whipping straps.
By golly, I may only have been 11 but I was as quick as a cricket in picking up those irregular verbs, future conditionals and assorted gerunds.

These days I have found parsing the hanging participles to be of great help when I am in severe pain, the concentration helps enormously to take the mind off arthritis and second degree burns from pressing the hot water bottle too close to the affected limb.

But there's another side benefit! I can read the Italian newspapers quite well and stumble through the Spanish publications with only a little head scratching.

I am sorry you didn't have Sister Mary Isobel to pound a language into your head. Of course, Latin is dead these days (as is Sister Mary Isobel)but it lives on in me.

Anonymous said...

Having been around for many of KK's "original" performances of "Don't Rain on My Parade" (in her bedroom, in front of the full-length mirror, with Miss Streisand singing backup on the record player), I can only say: It was FUNNY EVERY TIME! I'd be rolling around on the floor laughing my ass off; before she even finished I'd be begging her to start it again. You've never seen anything until you've seen KK with those Elastogirl arms outstretched, giving it the full Broadway treatment. God, would I love to see that again! (hint hint)