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No Hablo Español

A few years ago when I was in Egypt, I saw a Bedouin man sitting on a camel in the middle of nowhere, talking on a cell phone. I get that. There are probably more people in the world who own a cell phone than a toothbrush. Most people want, need and love to communicate. The need to connect is almost as basic as food and air.

My husband and I spent a period of time living in Panama, where the predominant language was Spanish. This wasn’t a problem for Dee as he’s proficient in both speaking and understanding Español. I, on the other hand, quite frankly sucked at it.

Everyone kept telling me that learning Spanish is easy, which didn’t help my self-esteem much.

Remember how in elementary school we were divided up into reading groups? There were the Super-Smarts, the Mediocre-Moderates, and the Ridiculously-Remedial groups. Of course, they were called by different names, like groups One, Two, Three; ABC or Red, Blue, Yellow. But we all knew exactly who was who. Using that same standard with learning Spanish, I would have been in the Thirteen-F-Gray group. Trust me, that isn't a good thing.

Sure, I picked up a few Spanish words and phrases but my ADD and ASAG made it impossible to learn the language ASAP. (In case you’re acronym illiterate, ASAG is a term used to describe the Attention Span of A Gnat.)

There were so many things to consider—singular, plural, you, me, near, far, permanent, temporary, past, present, future. (Deep breath) infinitives, conjugations, irregular verbs, ser, estar, and craziest of all, masculine or feminine. Arghhh!

I’d like to know who decided that inanimate objects have a gender. Obviously it was the same person who determined that the word dress is masculine and motorcycle is feminine. Pretty sure that wacko was in the Ridiculously Remedial group. Since Spanish is supposed to be a Romantic Language, I guess they thought it needed a lot of sex.

They say if you are immersed in a language you’ll learn to swim. In my case I doggie paddled around awhile before I drowned. For the life of me I couldn’t get the hang of it.

It’s true that I got considerably capable of asking where the bathroom was. Donde esta el banyo, por favor? If the answer didn’t include a physical pointing in that direction, I would slink off, praying I was headed the right way. And they always watched to see if I did.

At first people were drawn to me, maybe a little fascinated by my presence and pretense. But that only held up for so long. After a few minutes they got bored with my deep baby talk dialogue and I’d see their glazed eyes search for an excuse to saunter off. I can’t say I blamed them. If only I had a camel, I'd grab a cell phone and skulk away myself.

It’s always bothered me that I didn’t pick up on that easy, romantic language. So I’ve added a Spanish Course to my playlist on my iPod. I practice when I’m out hiking with only my dogs to smirk at my ineptness. Okay, maybe a few birds and squirrels mock my efforts in raucous laughter, but since I also don’t speak Bird or Squirrel, their chatter sounds just like Spanish to me. No biggie, I’m used to it.

Maybe if I keep trying, a hundred years from now I’ll be able to understand Español. I’ll be able to genuinely say Intiendo! Or is it Intienda? Whatever.

*One of the comments I got back was totally written in Spanish! What part of No Hablo Español didn't they understand?! Helloooo? Or should I say

Ho-la?