Push the Button
Posted by sinpolaris
Day 001 – July 23, 2011
Outside our kitchen and next to our phone is a large red button that has the word “PARADA” written above it as seen in the helpful attached image below…
As I have mentioned before (see Disclaimer No. 2), my Spanish is horrible, but my lovely wife (and backed up by Google Translate) told me that parada means “stop”.
However, my next question is, “What am I stopping?” Does pushing this button stop the gas? the electricity? the phone? the water? a horde of stampeding capybaras?
I am curious beyond despair to push this button and find out what happens…except, of course, that my fear of the unknown trumps my curiosity and so the button remains untouched.
This is the same feeling I have when I think about attempting to communicate in Spanish with anyone else in the city. I realize I am in a place and a neighborhood that does not see many tourists. This means I cannot expect English to be spoken around here. When I vacationed in certain parts of Mexico that catered to tourists, I knew I could always expect some local vendor to speak English. It was a lifeline and I was happy for it. This is not the case here and I will have to deal with it.
My largest fear of speaking a language that I can barely command is the two-fold dread of…
a) sounding and looking like an idiot as I use the wrong verb tense or stammer as I search for the correct word and;
b) causing an international (or even semi-local) incident because I used a completely inappropriate and incorrect word.
I can see the button in front of me and I can take one of two paths. I can either…
y) not press the button and always be curious or;
z) press the button and deal with the consequences.
My gut tells me to parada, but then again, in the words of Ms. Frizzle, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.”
I’ll deal with the capybaras as they come.
UPDATE: AUGUST 25, 2011
I have pushed the metaphorical button.
So far, there has only been one humorous incident of a misplaced word (and of course I shall share it).
I was at a store buying clothes for our children and I needed socks. I approached a clerk and asked, in my halting Spanish, “Tienes calzones?” The clerk looked at me a little askew and then took me over to the undergarments section, because I had used the word for “underwear”, when I meant to say calcetines.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t looking for a comb. For those of you who know your Spanish, you know that there is only an accented syllable difference the word for “comb” and the word for…er, how to put this…the “male member” (ahem).
The real button outside of our kitchen remains untouched. I am conquering my fears one at a time.