Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vatos Locos Forever

When I was a kid I was forced to take a language in school. To us it was torture. We lived in America, that was the attitude. Why the hell would we need to know Spanish unless we were ordering tacos. And it was "Oh say can you see?" Not "Jose can you see?" That was what one of my scholar classmates pointed out. As for French, you know the old joke about the French army marching into battle with their hands up. Then there was Latin, the dead language I wanted to take but it had no AP counterpart. What can I say, I am a dork who likes useless skills and to translate stuff. As for the German language, Nazi much. Granted, it is a negative stereotype but it didn't help that the German teacher was a blatant racist.

Our seventh grade Spanish teacher was actually a neat lady. She had been a foreign exchange student in Spain in high school. When she was in college, she swam for some Division I school and lived in Mexico to train with their swim team for a year. However, I was thirteen and her class was first thing in the morning. Getting us to participate was like pulling teeth, especially since our area was pretty conservative. Most parents were anti-immigrant. Our teacher, who was worldly, pointed out that it was best to learn the language because Latinos would be the biggest minority group soon. We responded that they should just learn English like our ancestors did. She maintained a good attitude, but if I were a Spanish teacher in middle America I would blow my brains out.

High school Spanish, I was more into it. Our Spanish teacher was a smart ass who had a Spaniard husband. She knew we weren't into it, so she was totally awesome. We would begin class with, "Bues dias los animales." Translated, "Good morning, animals." And then we watched this video about some chica and her quinceanera. Of course some dude named Ramon comes to save the day. She said, "Oh well Carmen has a happy ending. But later on she probably went on to get knocked up by some slick Ramon." So politically correct but probably so true. Either way, she made me laugh.

When I got to New York, I realized a lot of people spoke Spanish around me. They chattered it effortlessly on the streets. Most of the people in the stores spoke Spanish as did many of the people who lived in the city in general. Knowing simple Spanish got me far a lot of the time, whereas other people who took French or German were lost as hell. As time went on, I made friends who spoke Spanish. They taught me new words and helped me keep sharp. In my neighborhood salon, my friends are from Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. There is also a Spanish eatery around the corner. They used to get people from all Spanish speaking walks of life. One dude was illegal from Mexico and was talking about walking for weeks because he had no papers. Again, knew no English. Plus my dear friend Chacho Vasquez was Cuban, and he used to fight with his brother Roberto in Spanish. So actually, just by being around people who spoke it my Spanish was better than when I was taking it daily in high school. I would have to say it is the class I easily use daily.

I also don't have a TV and fell in love with Spanish Gangster flicks. That is my vice second to Lifetime these days. A few years ago, I was tired from a long day of work when I discovered Blood In, Blood Out. At the time I was working a puppet job in Queens Village. I casually mentioned this to my coworker, a friend who was Puerto Rican and Italian named Pablo. He was like, "That is the best movie ever." While I don't think it is the best ever, it is pretty good. I have seen it enough to know every line. Same with Mi Vida Loca and Mi Familia. I kind of know every line. It's bad and funny at the same time. And Spanish is better to insult people in than English. It has such flavor. Calling someone a chorizo pig and then listening to him lie about how many rucas he has.

So basically the class I detested taking in high school helps me every day. I learned Spanish from a bunch of hairdressers, a few illegals, and a dead gay drug dealer. Oh and from Spanish Gangster flicks. Politically correct. not so much. LOL. No mi gusta trabajar pero, yo quiero dinero ese.

Translate that puntos.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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