What the…What am I supposed to do with this? Put it in my mouth?
No, this definitely doesn’t seem right.
What if I just grab it…
…and then place it on the spoon…
Wait a second. Is the good stuff hiding on the bottom of the bowl?
I’ll tell you one thing, this bowl tastes a lot better than that avocado nonsense you tried to put in my mouth earlier.
Oh, now I see. The spoon goes in my mouth. Interesting.
Wait wait wait. I just had the best idea. Are you ready, Mom? This is going to be hilarious.
OMG that was awesome. Throwing avocados at Mom is the best!
I learned a great deal in my high school Spanish classes, not the least of which was a handy amount of conversational Spanish. One of the best lessons I learned, though, was a two-parter: 1. Embarrassing language mistakes happen, no matter how hard you work to avoid them; and 2. Embarrassing language mistakes are often hilarious, and it’s far better to laugh at yourself than to be embarrassed. This is a story about that.
Spanish, like all languages, has its own colloquialisms. One word can mean any number of different things. The word in question today is caliente. At its most basic, it translates to “hot.” However (and this is another thing I learned in high school Spanish), among native speakers, it’s more commonly used to mean “hot and bothered”/”excited”/”all worked up” — in an adult sense, if you get my drift (and I think you do) — than it is to describe the temperature of something. This is an important fact to remember if you wish to avoid making an embarrassing language mistake. It is also a very easy fact to forget when you’re in a hotel lobby in Barcelona, having a conversation with the front desk clerk, trying to scrape up whatever vocabulary you can from high school and college Spanish classes after it’s sat dormant in the corner of your brain for the better part of six years.
Which brings us to October 2010, in a hotel lobby in Barcelona, where Tim and I, exhausted after a full day wherein I had tried to show Tim all my favorite things about the city I’d spent six weeks in six years earlier, tried to determine whether the hotel had a hot tub in which we could soak our tired muscles.
In retrospect, I don’t know why we didn’t just go to the pool area and see for ourselves rather than trying to ask the nice woman at the front desk. I’m glad we didn’t, though, because if we had, then I wouldn’t have this embarrassing story for us all to laugh at now.
So. Back to the lobby. I’m trying to inquire at the front desk whether the hotel has a hot tub, but it’s been a long time since I’ve really used my Spanish, and I can’t remember the word for “hot tub.” Honestly, I’m not sure I ever knew the word to begin with. So I go for the next best thing and attempt to describe the term that’s missing from my vocabulary — like a one-sided game of Catch Phrase in which the person who knows she’s playing doesn’t speak the language, and the other player is very confused but trying very patiently to help the crazy rambling American. It went a little bit like this:
Me: In this hotel, do you have a “hot tub”? [In which the entire sentence was in Spanish, except the term "hot tub," which I said in English.]
Front Desk Clerk: [Blank stare to indicate she has no idea what a hot tub is.]
Me: [Again with the Spanish] It’s like a swimming pool, only more…hot.
Front Desk Clerk: [Gives me an odd look and assures me that the hotel does not have any such amenity.]
We returned to our room and swim-suited up, thinking that even a non-hot swimming pool would feel pretty good on our muscles. When we arrived at the pool and discovered that there was, indeed, a hot tub, I reflected on our lobby conversation and realized my mistake.
See, when I asked for a hot swimming pool, I didn’t really say “hot,” not in the correct sense, anyway. What I said was “caliente,” which you’ll remember from a few paragraphs above has an entirely different meaning than the one I intended.
Basically, I asked for a horny swimming pool.
No wonder the woman at the front desk was so confused.
While Tim is flipping through the guide looking for something to watch:
(Excited): “Zombie Crocodiles?!”
(Then, disappointed): “Oh, wait. I’ve seen that.”
I know some of you have already seen this on Facebook, but it is simply too cute not to re-post.
As a bonus, I give you the Kid Quote of the Day from Tim’s first day back after Christmas Break:
Kid: “Are we going to learn about the Boston Tea Party?”
Mr. Tim: “Yes.”
Kid: “But I hate Sarah Palin!”
. . .
In other news: Happy Birthday, Gary!
For the new year, I think Smalls has resolved to give up all attempts at dignity and focus instead on being as comfortable as possible.
That, or she plans to take up horseback riding and is trying to get her legs used to the feel of straddling a saddle.