Some days when I’m out and about in the world working, or whatever, I don’t speak to anyone except for myself. I have a strong internal dialogue that’s always on. Sometimes I have to turn off the car radio so I can pay attention to it. I don’t always speak out loud whatever it is that my brain is playing out but when I do I feel safe in assuming that if other drivers catch a glimpse of me they will think I’m either practicing lines for a dramatic commercial audition I have later in the day or I’m having an intense debate with my lover over what place settings will match the highlights in my hair at our wedding reception.
Mix together my lack of human interaction with my love of thinking I know how to speak Spanish and this last month has been magical.
First, as I was getting up from a machine an abuela who had been sweating me came closer to take a look. I motioned for her to take my seat and this little lady started throwing Spanish at me! I cannot adequately describe to you, dear reader, how much I love when people are forced to let me practice my Spanish because they need something and I’m the only viable option around.
So she goes, “¿Hablas Español?” (This is how it always starts.) And I say “poquito’ but acting real chill like I don’t even care if we don’t talk I can go home and play with Rosetta Stone. Then as she motioned towards the machine she said, get this, “No entiendo.”
She didn’t know how to play the machine! Could this spot have been any better for me?
We are in a casino in Vegas, of course someone will eventually walk by who speaks better Spanish than me but nobody will walk by who speaks better Spanish and knows how this slot machine works! Game on!
I got to explain the bet sizes, what buttons to push and what symbols were the luckiest all while practicing my better than high school level but not as good as if I studied abroad level Spanish. She wanted to know how to get in the bonus round and I kept telling her we don’t know when it will happen! It’s a surprise! It’s so fun!
“No sabemos cuando! Es una sorpresa! Es muy divertido!”
“Vanna tiene dientes bonitos.”
After this I’m walking around for a few weeks feeling pretty good about myself, kind of like a big shot. Then the Spanish gods threw me a test.
I’m in a casino on graveyard, not doing anything but looking like my usual maybe I could be Mexican but also maybe I could be Persian self, and a rattled, young slot tech calls me over and asks if I can speak Spanish. Of course I can speak Spanish! Where’s the fire!?
“¿Donde esta el fuego?”
I follow her a couple aisles down and I’m presented with a very confused and visibly bothered Latin American cowboy, hat and all, who appears to have a serious problem. There are beads of sweat on his face. I don’t think he wants to know about bonus rounds.
So I say, “Hola. ¿Que pasó?” and then he hit me with a chaotic, “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero,
There were a lot of other words but I immediately cracked under the pressure and couldn’t make sense of any of them. I fumbled through asking him some questions. He didn’t lose his money playing a slot machine. Nobody took his money. He did not need a charger. That’s all I could gather. I didn’t know how to help this vaquero.
The slot tech continued to try and flag down someone who actually spoke Spanish, not the pretend taco bell level one stuff I was throwing out.
She found a woman with terrible, terrible lip injections which shouldn’t really matter but it’s all I could think about at the time.
I speak Spanish better than her doctor does injections.
Anyway, she said she could speak a little Spanish. I already knew this was going to be a bust but ok go for it. The man throws the “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero, máquina, chinga” at her and without missing a beat she says “Oh yeah he just needs a phone charger.”
I was dying.
Next the tech flags down a young girl who could actually speak Spanish; a legit native speaker. Her face was normal so it was a little less interesting to watch but at this point I was eager enough to find out what the cowboy’s problem was it didn’t matter.
The ranchero is super frustrated now by the way, he cannot believe our idiocy.
He throws the same speech to this girl, “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero, máquina, chinga.” and she looks a little confused. She starts asking him questions and by now I’ve gotten my Spanish vocabulary memory back and can understand the conversation. She’s asking him which machine he’s talking about. Where is his money? How much money? Does he need a bank?
The big reveal is this: The cowboy plugged his phone into a machine to charge. His blue tooth was on. The machine took all of his money off of his phone.
Are we all clear?
This vato claimed he plugged his phone into a slot machine and his money was wiped. What money? Nobody knows. What does his blue tooth being on have to do with it? Dunno. Was the money in a bank? A crypto wallet? CashApp? Guys, we don’t know!
It wasn’t my poor Spanish that was the problem it was that this guy was loco. I suggested to the tech she find a jefe and I took off, my work there was done.