Monday, April 03, 2006

No fooling

Saturday was, of course, April Fool's Day. But none of the following three things that happened to me that day was a joke.

The doorbell rang around 10 in the morning. I opened the door, and there were two middle-aged Latina women on the stoop. "¡Buenos dias!" one of them said. "Do you speak Spanish?"

"No," I said, "but my wife does."

"Oh," the woman said, "we are looking for people who speak Spanish."

"We are both English speakers," I said, "but my wife does know Spanish. You can talk to her if you want."

"No, that's okay," the woman said. "Have a nice day!" The two of them left.

My wife had been peeking at this whole thing from the end of the hallway. "I think they were missionaries," she said. "The one was definitely carrying a Bible."

"She also had a newsletter or pamphlet or something that said 'El Reino' on it," I said. "Does that have something to do with Jesus?"

"It means 'the kingdom'."

"Maybe you should've talked to them," I said.

"But I'm already Christian!" my wife said.

"Well, you could've told them that in Spanish. Whereas all I could've said was, um, 'no quiero el Jesus'."

My wife stuck out her tongue at me. And then we realized we'd just been visited by our first Spanish Jehovah's Witnesses.

The telephone rang around 2:45 in the afternoon. I answered it, and on the other end was a guy who introduced himself as Jorge. He was calling from Nielsen, the television ratings people. He wished to speak to the lady of the house.

He said all this in Spanish. I am learning Spanish. I'm not especially good at it yet. My approach to foreign languages is to learn some random words and with them, master grammar. I became so good in German so fast because I refused to limit myself to boring statements like "ich komme mit dem Bus in die Schule" (I take the bus to school) and "ich sammle Postkarten in meiner Freizeit" (I collect postcards in my spare time). No, I needed something more, like "ich komme mit der fliegenden Untertasse in die Schule" (I come to school in a flying saucer) and "ich zerlege Leichnamen in meiner Freizeit" (I dissect cadavers in my free time).

So I understood what Jorge was saying, but I knew I'd never be able to formulate a reply unless it involved my cat, grapes, cows, eating, headaches, monkeys, stealing things on a regular basis, or testicles.

"Speaking," the lady of the house said, "but I don't speak Spanish."

Jorge dutifully delivered his spiel in English. "Are you the lady of the house?"

"Yes," I said, "or, well, I'm one of the two."

Jorge asked me what kinds of programs we tend to watch--comedy, children's, news, or drama. I said drama. Then he asked whether anyone in the house was Hispanic, Latino, or other Spanish-speaking.

"No," I said.

"Okay," he said, "thank you very much, have a nice day."

We live in a neighborhood where native English speakers are in the minority. We'd been geographically profiled twice in one day.

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, we were in the car. That song "Breathe" by Anna Nalick was on the radio. We heard this car honking. It sounded like someone was honking the horn in 3/4 time, with a rest on the downbeat and a honk on 2 and 3. "Breathe" is in 3/4 time, so we thought someone was being cute and having a honk-along. And the honks were off the beat by about the same portion of a second it takes for the horn to beep when you press the button.

But the song changed, and the honking didn't stop. We looked behind us to see who was doing all that honking.

Behind us was a green Rav 4, with a giant banner across its rear windshield. The banner read "JUST MARRIED." The car behind it was doing the honking. I asked my wife to move to the other lane and slow down, so the Rav 4 could pass us and we could join in the honking too. But she was not big on that idea.

In the two miles or so before our house, the honking faded in much the same manner as a two-year-old's temper tantrum does. You know: after the long sob, there are a few isolated squawks just in case you forgot that there is a tantrum going on here. That kind of thing. Eventually the Rav 4 turned right, and that was the end of that.

I swear I did not make any of this up.


Sra. Gerbil said...

Sí, yo soy el gato de la casa. Me encanta los programas de televisión en que monos están robando a los huéspedes. Pero los programas que tienen cojones me dan dolor de cabeza. ¡Ay! Discúlpame, las vacas están comiendo todas las uvas en la cocina.

Heather said...

I have no idea what your wife said. I got this out of it: "Yes. Something something the house. I use Encarta for the programs on the television that are in a monotone or in a certain hue of Speedos. The lost programs tie the cojones out of me and Dan. Ai-yi-yi-yi. Discipline that vacation and go commando today but watch for cockroaches."


I wanted to mention that this - "ich komme mit der fliegenden Untertasse in die Schule" - brings back the weirdest memories I have from high school. "Ach, nein, ein Bus!" Heh. And Herr... um... what was the blond guy's name? Oh. Yes. Herr Harvey's face when I tried to convince him that yes, indeed, I did have Spaghetti fur Fruhstuck (yeah, definitely forget how to spell. I think that was breakfast. Haven't had much use for German lately, except for occasionally telling a student, "Du bist ein Bleistift." (Or however you spell pencil. It's been a while.))

Oddly enough, my boyfriend is a native Spanish speaker who learned English as a second language and then took German throughout high school. He's the man.

Dude. Write me back. I miss you. (Because after waiting years to find you (or be found by you), I've completely run out of communication-related patience).

Forgive the interrupted sentences. I need sleep. In a very bad way.

Kara said...

*giggles* When I saw the words "el reina" I *knew* it was a JW who had visited the two of you.