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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Study Hard So You Can Be Rude in Spanish, Too

Keys my ass you bigga sheet!
I wouldn’t call it an advantage but one thing about attaining a fairly high level of fluency in Spanish is that now I can get snippy with people who piss me off. Before I was stoic and patient, now I have the linguistic luxury of being bitchy. Before you know it I’ll be a full-blown asshole (just like I was in English?). In my defense all that I can say is that I have never consciously worked to improve my Spanish for the sole purpose of berating someone who gets on my nerves. I suppose that I could try being conversant in the language and a decent person. I’ll give a few examples and let others decide if I’m being too touchy.

I sat down just now in my corner bar and there is some old guy working who is here in the mornings. I have been coming to this bar regularly for about two and a half years so unless he suffers from recurrent amnesia he should recognize me from the last time I came in which was fucking yesterday. He was sitting on the terrace talking with one of his home boys and I took a seat inside. It would have been virtually impossible for him not to notice that I walked in as he was sitting directly in front of the door. I sat down, turned on my computer, went to the restroom, came back, checked my email, sent a text on my phone, et cetera, et cetera for over ten minutes.  I don’t really come here for the food or drink as it basically serves as a satellite office for me so I don’t really give a shit if I get served or not—and I’m certainly never in a hurry—but this just seemed like a complete lack of respect.  

Another customer walked in and the old barkeep hopped up like it was the owner of the place and he shuffled quickly behind the bar to serve the new customer. Then he walked around the bar—right past me—to clean off some dishes. As he walked back behind the bar I looked straight at him in an attempt to make eye contact. He was a meter away but evidently I was invisible to him. I tried to get his attention by saying “excuse me” but nothing doing. Finally I stood up and walked over to the bar in front of him. I didn’t say anything at first and he still didn’t bother to ask me what I wanted so I told him with extremely exaggerated politeness that when he could, if it were at all possible, it would be stupendous if he could find the time to make me a café con leche. He is too dim-witted to pick up on my heavy sarcasm but it made me feel better. Does that make me an asshole?

I was in a news kiosk last Friday and I explained to the middle-age couple working there that I was looking for the books by Mario Vargas Llosa that El País newspaper has been selling every other Friday. The old guy just looked at me like I was from another fucking planet and started whining that he didn’t know what I was talking about when I cut him off very abruptly. I asked him, “Excuse me. Do you work here? I have been buying these books in this very shop for the past month or so.”  The woman—obviously with more sense—knew what I was talking about and I just turned my back on the man while I talked with her.

Sometimes I get annoyed with people who ask me to repeat something extremely simple. I just think to myself, “What the fuck did you think I said when I ordered a cortado?” Even the worst Spanish pronunciation shouldn’t be confusing to someone who works in a café and hears this word about a million times a day. I asked a young girl one time if she spoke Spanish because I could repeat the order in English or French or Arabic or Greek.


  1. If you look like an extranjero, then it follows that you must be one. Extranjeros speak extranjero, which a good cristiano won't understand - or even bother to listen to, what with it being extranjero and all. Simply really. Best way - phone them instead

  2. I think that I look at least a little Spanish.

  3. I sometimes feel like an asshole when I do just the same, but it just feels soooo good!! They deserve it. Actually it happened to me recently sitting at the bar, everyone around me was being served their coffee, tapa, etc, I had to literally scream to get service... I got it!

  4. P.S. I look very Spanish but sound completely extranjero.


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