Sigue lloviendo…

My Spanish is like a large, dormant animal couched comfortably in the darkened recesses of my brain; it hasn’t been touched for roughly three years. A sad state of affairs, considering that over the course of a good third of my life, Spanish was taught to me by a lazy litany of incompetent high school teachers, my neighbors from Honduras and Guatemala, my friends from Mexico, a certain Mexican telenovla called “Más Sabe el Diablo,” and a certain band de la música rock de Guadalajara called Maná. Nowadays, with other languages taking priority, Spanish has to be drug out of me kicking and screaming, like child out of bed on the first day of school. Even once I finally find the right shapes in my mouth, all I can utter at first is a whispered, “tengo verguenza.” I have shame. Considering how severely my Spanish has regressed, truer words may have never been spoken.

Despite my verguenza, my Spanish has now officially been extracted from its dormancy, believe it or not, in the context of this sport called football.* Basically, in a strange turn of events involving the internet, mountain biking, and a healthy dose of  “why the heck not,” I ended up watching the FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid match with two Spaniards. Mind you, sitting between two Spaniards, each rooting for a different team. Yes. As you can imagine, within a few minutes I was well-acquainted with a new swear word or two.

Even barring the “American” label I often bear,** I really can manage to watch a game of football and enjoy it. And I do, once every four years. It’s called the World Cup Final, and in all honesty my participation in it is mostly an excercise in social and cultural literacy. Football is a pandora’s box I don’t particularly dare to open: the complicated rankings, the leagues, the fear- and awe-inspiring kind of devotion, the nationalism, the songs. It’s an intensity I have a hard time justifying or understanding, so mostly I let it be.

All of this aside, it’s a good time watching the game, even if the air is a bit tense. Soon enough however, I make the inevitable mistake: I chime into a Spanish conversation, in English awkwardly, and the word is out. I can follow them. From here on, the evening is bilingual. For me this development is half mortifying (am I really this bad at Spanish now? Really?) and half enthralling (speaking another language, no matter how poorly, is always a rush). For the Spaniards, it’s pure amusement. Real Madrid wins, Barcelona commiserates and looks forward to the next game. Oh, no, it’s not over yet.

Nor is the battle over for me, and as the tests of Spanish competency and random trivia questions (hint: if the question is something like “Who is the best at such-and-such,” the answer is always “España.”) continue, I discover I have something I didn’t know I had. Namely: An accent. I offer transcriptive proof:

Spanish Guy: ¿(blah blah blah)…está fferrado?

Me: Um, ¿que dijiste?

SG: Fferrado.

Me: No conozco esa palabra…

SG: Oh my god! Fferr. Raad. O. Fferrado!

Me: ¿Ferrado? (my mind sends me to Latin, to the Periodic table, to Iron, ferromagnetism…What is he talking about?)

SG: Si, como abierto y más tarde fferrado.

Me: Oh my god. You mean cerrado! Cerr. Aad. O. Cerrado. Closed…a frances se dice ferme. ¿No?

SG: Oui. Oh my god. Cerrado. (He speaks as if he’s spitting out a spoiled piece of food). No. Ffferrado. Jesus, do want to espeak eSpanish or do you want to espeak Mexican?

Me: …ferrado…. (and silence. But I’m thinking: Dios mio, I think I’d rather speak Mexican.)

Oh, and yet another Pandora’s box I don’t particularly dare to open!

……………………..

* I’m not calling it “football” because I want to sound holier-than-thou. Allow me to explain. In the US there are two types of people who actually call “soccer” football: 1. People who actually like football (ie. 90% foreigners/immigrants) and 2. Hipsters who want to seem more enlightened than the rest. God forbid I should slip into the second category. I am calling it football because that is the convention here, and I must live with it.

**I can often avoid this by pulling the Swedish card, but that gets tiring.

*** Note: Given theme of Espain Espanish, this was written with AV in mind, who among other things likes blog shoutouts. Woohoo!

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