Aug 7, 2008

Twos (or Dos-es)

Studly Man has citizenship in TWO countries (USA and Peru).

He is one of his father's TWO sons.

He is one of my parents' TWO sons-in-law.

He has TWO college degrees.

He has TWO eyes and TWO ears and TWO nostrils.

And he speaks TWO languages.

A few months after we married, we visited Studly's family in deep South Texas. His dad and stepmother have had a live-in housekeeper (Tonia) for the last 30+ years. She works very hard and is always so gracious to us when we visit. If one of us leaves a dirty sock on the floor accidentally, we'll come back from an outing to find she's done ALL of our laundry. She makes our bed within 14 seconds of our vacating it, and she makes breakfast to order for each person every morning. And she doesn't speak English. That's not a problem for anyone else in the family, but for me, it poses a bit of a challenge sometimes.

One morning on that particular visit, I slept late following a bad migraine the night before. When I finally stumbled out of bed, everyone was gone... except for Tonia. My mother-in-law had gone to a closing (she's a realtor), and Studly and his dad had ventured across the border for a meeting with the guys who built their product in Matamoros. When Tonia heard me stirring around in the kitchen, she came in to take my breakfast order. Although she understands some English, she isn't confident speaking it. The same holds true for my Spanish. We gestured to each other and pointed to things until we'd had a complete "conversation," and she understood my simple order: toast and coffee.

Later that day, I told Studly I felt badly because Tonia is always so gracious to me, and yet I can't communicate with her well like everyone else does. I wanted to thank her for her hospitality and maybe be able to order my breakfast... you know... in Spanish. He asked me what I wanted to say to her, and I told him. He graciously offered to teach me how to say what I wanted to convey in Spanish.

For hours that evening and the next morning, I rehearsed. There were some tricky words I hadn't heard before, and I was having trouble rolling my 'r' properly. Studly gently coached me as we got ready that morning until I had my speech down perfectly. Feeling very bold, I was ready to march into the kitchen and speak to Tonia. I opened the bedroom door and took a step out into the hall.

And then he grabbed me.

By the shoulders.

Laughing so hard he couldn't talk.

And I knew.

I knew he had taught me to say something slightly different from what I thought I was saying.

After much prodding, he finally gave in and confessed through the tears that were running down his cheeks while he held his sides as he laughed. He had taught me how to say, "My husband has three testicles." (Yes, it was in 2002, very shortly after "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" came out.)

Somewhere between my anger and my laughter, we finally managed to get to the kitchen. He composed himself well, and we sat down at the breakfast table. His dad was sitting there drinking his coffee and reading the paper. As we sat quietly, the silence grew deafening. I could stand it no longer.

I looked at my dear father-in-law and said, "Do you know what your son just did to his new bride?" A sad look came over his face. "No. What happened?" he asked with great concern. I told him the whole sordid story, and he patted my shoulder and said, "He's terrible, that son of mine. I'm sorry."

And then he winked at Studly.

And I knew I was doomed for the rest of my life. Studly had been an excellent student at the Practical Joke School of South Texas, and his father was the teacher. They'd spent a lifetime playing jokes on each other, and now I had been inaugurated into the family.

Within a few weeks of that experience, we had a crew of Brazilians laying a new flagstone patio in our backyard. It was the heat of the summer, like it is right now, and it was dangerously hot for anyone working outdoors. Dehydration and heat stroke were real threats. Studly had a meeting away from the house, and I thought the right thing to do would be to take these men who were working so very hard for us some nice cold ice water. I got my biggest pitcher and six 32 oz plastic cups. I filled the pitcher with ice water and placed everything on a tray. Following my previous foray into "speaking Spanish," I was a bit nervous. However, I mustered some courage and stepped out onto the back porch. The crew's foreman saw me.

"Agua?" I said tentatively.

A huge smile came across his face as he came over to me to take the tray.

"Oh, yes ma'am. We'd love some water. Thank you VERY much," he said in p.e.r.f.e.c.t. English. He took the tray and said in Portuguese (the native tongue of Brazilians and very similar to Spanish) to his crew that break time had come. They all came over into the shade and got a drink of water. I smiled as I turned to go back into the house, and as I did, something caught the corner of my eye.

There it was. A huge, industrial Igloo water dispenser and accompanying cups the crew had brought. They HAD water. They didn't NEED water. They were being gracious to accept my kindness. And I felt a little silly.

When Studly arrived home, I told him what had transpired. He laughed and recalled our most recent Spanish lesson, one in which he was more forthright about what he was teaching me to say.

When the crew finished their work and it was time for them to leave, Studly and I went out to see our new patio. Knowing the foreman and crew would appreciate my attempt to learn and communicate in another language, Studly told them I'd been learning some Spanish. He looked at me with great pride and said, "Go ahead, honey. Tell them what you've learned."

I lowered my head and cleared my throat.

"Mi esposo es muy guapo," I said with confidence.

They fell out laughing. The foreman asked Studly if I knew what I'd just said. He assured them I did. I looked at the foreman and said, "Well he IS very handsome, don't you think?" More laughter... because, yes, Studly had taught me to say "my husband is very handsome."

At least I was wise to the antics now.

TWO times. Twice he's had fun teaching me silliness in Spanish.

Se te va a secar la lengua.


Anonymous said...

ha ha what did you say at the end????
Ruby's Fairy Godmother

Suzanne said...

Bad husband, bad bad

Yeah, I want to know what you said at the end too.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Make that three who want to know what you said at the end.

I don't know if I'd be mad or laugh at the joke with Tonia. It would make me laugh but yet I'd be frustrated because I spent all that time learning. Oh well. I guess it just adds to your Spanish vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

I don't think studly is gonna quit teasing ANY TIME SOON!!!


The Fires said...

Knowing Studly as I do...the teasing will NEVER, EVER stop...God love him and sometimes it is trying for those of us who have to put up with his sense of humor. Keep working on the three testicle speech and use it to get back at HIM sometime. Report back to us what happens. God has a special crown reserved for you because He chose YOU to be Studly's spouse. And I'm glad He did! I love you both.