Español dontchaknow

So this is the third summer we’ve vacationed in our home state Wisconsin. July is by far the best month in our beloved cheese state, and we can escape the humidity of Mayaguez while visiting family and keep some annual traditions.

Eager to practice mi español, I want to speak to strangers who I think speak it. The problem is, some people who look like Spanish speakers don’t speak Spanish, or aren’t Latino at all (my bad, Filipino guy. Sorry).  For example, my cousins-in-law who live in a small town adopted a Mexican girl who doesn’t speak much Spanish.  But people keep stopping her on the street and speaking Spanish to her. Kinda makes things awkward.  I like to avoid awkward.

At a swing dance a firefighter made an announcement for a charity event, and he mentioned his Spanish accent.  An obvious in, I spoke with him at the bar afterward and practiced my Spanish. Lo and Behold – he’s Puerto Rican.  His eyes lit up when I told him I lived there.  His family is from Bayamon, but he’s lived in Milwaukee a decade. Then his eyes got all confused and he asked, “Why do you live there??” haha


Home Depot checkout clerk’s apron boldly read, “Yo hablo Espanol!” Ah ha! I spoke Spanish to him too. Told him I live in PR. His eyes lit up, his family is from Utuado, PR. He called over to the lady cashier next to us – his sister! She got excited too.  Then he got all confused and asked, “Why do you live there??” haha

At Great America the cashier’s name tag said “Dominican Republic” under her name, and her eyes lit up when I spoke Spanish to her too.

So, when there was an obvious chance I took it. When it’s not obvious I’m a little more shy. If I hear others speaking Spanish around us I’m inspired to speak Spanish to my kids then too.  But I wonder if that’s weird from the other people’s perspective.  There’s a part of me that would like to be speaking Spanish to my kids before I hear others speaking it around us.  So it’s like, “Oh, I was just speaking Spanish to my kids like always, not because you’re around me.”  I’m so weird.  And I probably think too much.



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4 Responses to Español dontchaknow

  1. Katie says:

    Meh — I think it’s bound to be a little awkward! There are conflicting tensions for Spanish-first, English-second people living in the main 48 — pressure from without to assimilate, a desire from within to feel connected to family, traditions, etc. I think you’re just being respectful of the limbo that such pressures make people live in!

  2. Katie says:

    As for your own awkwardness doing it all the time, well … I’m sure you’re not completely immune to knowing, just as they do, how much of the main 48 often treat the speaking of foreign languages!

  3. Reinaldo says:

    I remembered 30 years ago that an English teacher told me that Spanish on US will disappear over time like other languages like the Italian, German or French.That man was wrong Spanish is stronger than ever. Hispanics inUS will be like 30% like in 25 years from now so the Spanish language it looks is gonna stay for few years.

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