September 2007 Archives
A few years back, I moved to a farming town called Oxnard; and while I love the people, there is something I have really come to miss: English.
I was married to a Dominican woman, so it's OK for her. Yahaira is like Blackspanicasian. She speaks both Spanish and English ... at the same fricken time. They all do. It's like listening to a song on the radio when you keep getting that interference from the Spanish station...
"Hey, Jude, don't be a -- "
"Yo quiero sentir sus labios -- "
"And any time you feel the -- "
"Numero uno en exitos, cien y siete PUNTO UNOOOO!"
Here is actual dialogue from a nearby B of A: "You know Maria? Ella es la persona who went to the wedding con nosotros el julio pasado. Remember?"
It's only a matter of time before the locals secede altogether and become Spangland.
People ask why I never learned Spanish, and I say, "Are you kidding?! Can you imagine how hard it would be to tune people out if I understood everything they were saying?"
When Yahaira broke into Spanish, I considered that free time. I heard her the way a dog hears its master: "Blah blah blah Jason. Blah blah blah Jason."
Sometimes it backfired. Like the night Yahaira called from Vons to say, "Do you want some ... como se dice ... patita de pollo ... you know, patita."
"Um. Sure. Gimme two. And a Pepsi."
That night I ate chicken's feet. Two. With tortilla flatware.
Yahaira started learning English when her Spanish was only half-installed, so she gets "down from," not out of, the car; she dreams with, not of, other people; and while most couples spooned in bed, we would only scoop. So it goes.
In Spanglish, all the plurals end in s. They don't do the singular plural thing. I'm wearing underwears, the lottery is at 32 millions ... white people eat a lot of spaghettis.
"No, honey. It's just spaghetti. There's no s at the end."
"But there are so many of them."
"We'll touch bases later."
Idioms are tricky to begin with, but mixed with Spanglish ... Let's just say that a little slang can be a dangerous thang.
"The toilet is overfloating. You said we'd nip this problem in the butt. Do I need to get the Jellow Pages?"
Yahaira always had reasons for her goof-ups and spent a good part of the day trying to explain them...
"I thought it was a peek preview because you're peeking at something."
"It isn't Old-Timers Disease because they forget things?"
At one point she gave up on words altogether and took to making noises. Every item in our house had a sound. Many of them whistled.
"Papi, have you seen my woohoo-woohoo?"
"My pinza, you know, the jigamathing."
Yes, gentle reader, I know that it's "thingamajig," but I don't have the galls to tell her. She might go bazooka.
I fear that my own English has spoiled by osmosis. I find myself looking up terms I knew in third grade. Was bob wire really invented by a man named Bob?
During our recent lunch together (Yahaira and I are just friends and no longer an "anti-racial couple"), she ordered smashed potatoes and cold slaw, and I a Caesar salad with extra crunchies.
"Do you mean croutons?" asked the server.
"I could mean just about anything." I said. "I'm from Spangland."
I always thought that speed dating was something you did with the colorful girls on Sunset Boulevard. Turns out that there is another, more organized system right here in town: No Waiting Dating, "upscale speed dating with class and style."
I know, it sounds like a crock of Fiber-One, but owner Karalee Austin runs the show like a southern belle, classy smashy all the way down to champagne by the spitting lions.
Dress was upscale, but I think men should be left to their own devices. That way women can see what they're getting.
"Hmm. Sandals with tube socks ... NEXT!"
As it stands, women begin each date with a standard security question: "Did anyone help you get dressed for tonight's event?"
I went on Single Parents Night, which is nice because you can be reasonably sure that these women go all the way. Some of the women were familiar with my work and wanted to know me on a first-name basis. That is, they refused to give their last names. So it goes.
Dating was way easier in grade school, when, if you liked a girl, all you had to do was stick gum in her hair.
That's Karalee's bell. When she rings, you move, mid-sentence if necessary. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don't mess around with Karalee's bell.
Cynthia was my first date. She thought I was gay.
"No," I said. "It's not a purse; it's a messenger bag. I bought it in a men's store."
Cynthia made a note on her sheet. My first demerit.
If dating is like a job interview, then speed-dating is a job fair. You get five minutes to explain your résumé.
"Yes, I was with Tanya from May to August ... Why did we break up? ... I'm afraid she was downsizing ... Since then I've mainly been temping."
Next came Sarah, who may have misunderstood the concept of "speed-dating" and showed up high on speed. I didn't understand everything she said, but she seemed to be working on product placement.
"I work out at the gym, and these 28-year-olds think they're ready for me while they're still driving Saturns."
If you want the full experience, you'll have to omit the spaces between her words.
Enter Sharon with her sexy Siren laugh. Alas, Sharon and her son "come as a package," and Sharon felt that I, childless freak, could not relate. She wasn't after Mr. Right but Mr. Brady.
So the lovely Ms. Sharon and I argued pens versus pencils, and would you believe that she promotes the latter? To me -- a professional! Sharon asked to borrow my pen "just to see," and I told her not on the first date.
So, yes -- lots of women, little fireworks. But then what could you expect after speed-dating? Fast-food dinner? A lifetime of quickies?
"You knew I was in a hurry from the beginning!"
Paula sat down in a cloud of sandalwood. She had tried eharmony.com and match.com, but speed-dating allows her to "see if a man is psycho."
I rebutted with the example of Ted Bundy, a charming and articulate serial killer.
"For all we know," I said, "you could be a serial killer. I would be surprised, but only for one horrifying second."
Paula's daughter was herself a surprise. Neither Paula nor the daddy thought they could have children until one crazy night in Las Vegas. The moral: Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
All these callers made me feel like Puff Daddy or Donald Trump or that guy who sings Mambo # 5: "a little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side..."
Then, on my tenth and final date, She walked in: Andrea. Shiver me timbers. Andrea had the posture of a gymnast and wispy, professional-woman hair. She extended a manicured hand and introduced herself as Special Agent #10. She had a sense of humor!
Karalee peeked over to make sure that both feet were on the ground.
Andrea wore glasses but only to ward off men who can't spell savoir fare ... savoire fair ... er, savwah...
"You'd be surprised at the overall intelligence level," she said.
At the end of our meeting, Andrea pointed to my chart and said, "You'll check me on your sheet." A statement, not a question.
When you're young and hot to trot, you know what you're after. Your mate needs to be skinny, rich, Capricorn. As you get older, standards start to sag. Your partner doesn't have to be rich so much as employed, skinny so much as upright. Finally all you notice is the ring finger.
Funny how rings tell the world where we stand: A ring on your finger means you're married; rings beneath your eyes mean that you have children.
I decided to ask Andrea on a date before she got to know me better. She agreed and said that we'd go Dutch. I assume that means that she'll wear a pointy hat and I my wooden clogs. I just hope she can get the gum out of her hair.
Check out the speed-dating video by The Star's Anthony Plascencia.
Jason Love writes for The VC Star a humor column called "So It Goes," for which he teams up with Anthony Plascencia to produce entertaining videos.
You can find Jason Love's cartoons and columns in The Denver Post, St. Petersburg Times, Arizona Republic, Funny Times, Frontier Airlines Magazine, etc. He also performs standup comedy throughout L.A. and Ventura counties.
Archives are at his web site.
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