She used the diminutive, so I guess it wasn’t an insult. Just like when women here call each other “gorditas.” Little fatties. A term of endearment.
I was sitting in my lounge chair, enjoying a glass of wine and a cool evening, and pretty much inclined to agree with our hostess’ assessment. Lazy. Yup. Got’cher lazy right heya.
We had been recounting our afternoon, which started with a huge lunch (I’d inadvertently ordered a muffaletta the size of the Millennium Falcon, and someone served up a big bowl of the restaurant’s signature dulce de leche ice cream). Then we were ushered into a sunlit conference room.
The room was ours for a two hour presentation on electrometallurgical something-or-other. The presentation may have been scintillating, or it may have been boring as toast. I don’t know.
It was in Spanish.
At the time I was selected to go on this month-long exchange to Buenos Aires, I knew I’d have to study. I remembered about five words from four semesters of college Spanish. By the time we boarded the plane, five months of classes, CD courses and telenovelas on Univision later, I was almost good enough to sing Los Colores with a classroom of kindergarteners.
Which, as it turns out, is less than adequate for a conversation with anyone who speaks the freakishly fast dialect they use in Argentina.
… Or for that matter, any conversation in Spanish that isn’t about asking for directions to the bathroom, whether the peppers on the pizza are too spicy, or describing how well I slept, if we’re being honest.
It’s also inadequate for making sense of any two hour-long lecture on electrometallurgical something-or-other in Spanish. Go figure.
About ten minutes into the presentation, I realized I was in trouble. I desperately tried with my kindergarten Spanish to lock onto anything this guy said, or to form an intelligent question. I repeatedly bit the inside of my cheek.
Still, my chin kept sinking to my chest. A couple of times I caught myself on the verge of a snore. I resorted to standing behind my chair and bouncing on my toes for a few seconds before sitting back down. Once I excused myself to find a bathroom. Another time to find a drinking fountain.
Seconds after sitting down, I’d have that sleepy-eyelid droopy face thing going on again. I was mortified, sure, but not mortified enough to jump from the sleepy train. Three other members of my exchange team were across the table, trying not to look at me and holding their hands over their mouths.
They were all engineers, that side of the table. They probably loved lectures on electrometallurgical yadda-yadda. Bastards.
How in the world did the guy talking not notice that I was almost asleep and my friends were chortling into their fists?
As it turns out, the guy sitting next to me was having the exact same problem. We must have made quite the pair with our little semi-synchronized head-bobble show.
I’m so thankful this was before You-tube or smart phones, or else I’m quite sure the whole episode would be making the rounds in cyber space as we speak.
The story earned us the label flojitos from our hostess. She was the one who’d arranged the tour of the electrometallurgical plant, so she may have been a little offended. Actually the day she’d arranged started with a 5:30 am flight to go see the plant, and culminated with a 1:30 am live television interview in Spanish. I was less than inclined to give a rip what she thought about my work ethic.
But the label hit a nerve with another member of our team.
“No somos flojitos,” my teammate said, coming up out of her chair and setting her glass of wine down with a little more force than necessary.
With much more fluency than I’d ever be able to muster, she ticked off, one by one, examples of her not being lazy: she was currently getting her MBA via remote courses; she worked gobs of hours every day; she ran marathons.
Me? In coming here, I’d left my five year-old and my two year-old home with their dad to have a month of conversations exclusively with adults (albeit in Spanish), thirty nights of uninterrupted sleep, and four weeks of not worrying about anyone else’s bowel habits.
Hell, you could call me whatever you wanted. I was kind of relishing being a flojita. I kind of embrace the whole concept even now. I always have.
I remember spring days like these ones when I was in college, trying like the dickens to stay focused on finishing my last paper of the semester, alternating with cramming for finals.
… and then getting invited to go out for a drink at the bar down the street that had the nice patio and cheep cheesy bread. We’d say screw it all and remind each other that we only needed a C average to graduate.
A toast, everyone. Here’s to mediocrity.
You’re surprised? Hello? English Lit major over here. It’s not like there was ever going to be any freaking booth for me at any job fair. Nobody has ever asked for my transcript.
Anyway, this is all a long way of excusing the fact that today’s post is not the follow-up I promised to Friday’s post about
deadly skincare products which could potentially turn you and your children into sunscreaming meemees.
I’ll get to it. I will. But it’s sunny and I’m distracted and thinking about afternoons I spent on the patio having a beer when I was in college.
So, there will be a huge expose on sunscreen come Wednesday. Or maybe Thursday.
In the meantime, cheers.
Before you lie back in that hammock, vote for Manicmumbling on Top Mommy Blogs. You can vote as much as once a day, every day. Thanks.
photo by: susivinh