We recently splurged on a family trip to Costa Rica over spring break. We wanted to make some special family memories and show our boys the beautiful country my husband and I had visited when first married 20 years ago. Also, we craved the opportunity to be berated and dissed in a foreign land by 16-year-olds who somehow know way more in their 16 years than my husband and I could possibly know in our combined 100 here on earth. (That just blew what mind I have left to add up our ages and realize they equal exactly 100!)
Costa Rica afforded us the opportunity to hike the base of one of the world’s most-active volcanoes, go white-water rafting, trek through the rainforest and be insulted for something entirely new! This time, the source of insults, eye rolls and heavy sighs was our command of the Spanish language, or rather the lack of it. Our little darlings have been studying Spanish in middle school and high school for several years now and are very eager to
pummel us help us along with their knowledge.
To me, my husband has great command of the Spanish language. The only things I know how to say in Spanish are, “Hi, thank you, two beers please, and where is the bathroom.” I had many a good time during both a trip to Mexico and one to Costa Rica with my own personal command of the Spanish language. Anyhoo…. to me, my husband speaks beautiful Spanish. Perhaps it’s because I have no idea what he is saying, but I remember him getting me and four other non-Spanish speaking adults around wonderfully in Costa Rica 20 years ago. During that trip, we had a really tense moment in a bar in Limon with a drunk and belligerent Nicaraguan who obviously did not like blue-eyed Americans. He was in our faces spewing what I knew was hateful speech when one of the gentlemen in our party said in a language very dear to me (redneck), “What the f#@k you trying to say to me?!” My husband stepped in, spoke a lot of words I did not understand and with the help of a couple friendly Costa Ricans, quickly diffused the situation.
But back to our family trip. We were resting in our hotel room one evening, when our children where
ragging on us gently pointing out there were areas for improvement in my husband’s Spanish, saying what he spoke was Spanglish, at best. They took various phrases my husband had used with tour guides and cab drivers and slammed him suggested better ways to say those things. My husband replied that he thought he knew more Spanish than they did, to which Thing Two, who seems the most comfortable of the two Things with his Spanish, seem to take great offense. His tone became very insulted as he said, “Oh really?” and then began rapidly thinking up and spewing off challenges to my husband which I jotted in the notebook I was carrying. Here is some of what he asked my husband (I swear!) if he knew what to say en Español:
“I want to pour cologne on your jacket and feed it to my fish.”
“My uncle can kill a dinosaur with only a knife.”
“I went to the bathroom in the neighborhood garden.”
“Yesterday, I ran over a turtle with a truck and I put it in a cardboard box and put it on the top of my friend’s car so the police would write him a ticket for not disposing of his roadkill.”
“I want to climb to the top of Mt. Everest with a rope made of my own hair.”
We had to give it to him. These were indeed important things one needed to know how to say in the native tongue of the country they were visiting. I was convinced the boy did not need a Spanish tutor. I was now wondering, however, about the services of a mental health professional…