As you know, I have learned my lesson. No more literal translations from English to Spanish of American expressions. After calling our friend Teré a slut when what I meant to say — sort of — was she was sexy, I most definitely learned my lesson. And Jerry is trying to be careful with his pronunciation of Spanish vowels to ensure he doesn’t inadvertently say something he doesn’t mean to say — like polla, which is cock (and not of the poultry variety), instead of pollo, which is chicken. So, you’d think I wouldn’t be getting myself into any more trouble. Or, really, you’d think I wouldn’t be giving my Spanish friends anything more to laugh — or blush — about.
One day, when my sister, Dale, was not quite 15 and I was not quite 13, we were in the apartment alone. I found her sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette. Except that she wasn’t so much smoking the cigarette, as she was blowing into it. Sparks were flying across the room. I was taken aback. “What are you doing?” I demanded to know.
She sniped back at me, “What does it look like? I’m smoking.”
I said in my pre-teen wisdom, “Well, you’re not supposed to blow into it. You’re supposed to suck the smoke into your mouth.”
She had a very logical response. “I tried, but I don’t like it. It makes me cough.”
“Then, you shouldn’t smoke,” I announced. “You don’t look cool.”
|STILL YEARS TO GO UNTIL THE SMOKING INCIDENT. NOT TOO WORRIED ABOUT “COOL.”|
WHERE I ERRED
Now, you might have guessed that my Spanish faux pas had something to do with the translation of “blow” or perhaps “suck.” But, you’d be wrong. My problem was in naming the room in which I found my sister. My parents’ apartment has a formal entry, what is known as a “foyer.” My family has always used it as a den of sorts, with bookshelves, sofa and TV. My sister was sitting in that room on that sofa when we had our exchange.
The Spanish equivalent for “foyer” (of French origin) would be entrada. But that didn’t occur to me as I told the story. I mentioned the “foyer,” pronouncing it the un-classy American way (foy-ur). Miguel and Teré didn’t know what I meant. So I then pronounced it the French and/or pretentious-American way (foy-yay). Miguel tittered and Teré blushed and laughed. With further explanation, it was determined that I meant “entrada.” But, Teré said in Spanish, “You do realize that follé is the past tense of follar, don’t you?” I shrugged. No I did not. Nor did I know what follar was.
I took out my phone and looked it up on Google Translate. Oops. I had dropped the “f bomb”; the “f word”; the word described by an extended middle finger. Don’t make me spell it out. You know the one I’m talking about.
I will not be any more specific — in English at least. The Dowager Duchess will read this post. She will see me swear in Spanish. She won’t be surprised, but she won’t be happy about it.
Anyway, The Duchess will probably be more shocked that her daughter smoked a cigarette…Well tried to smoke a cigarette.