Several years ago when I was living in my native land of Ghettofield (aka Greenfield), CA I went to the only fast food restaurant in town. After my nice meal, I went to the restroom only to discover the bathroom was disgusting and every stall was out of toilet paper. I was a little upset. I mean, I pay good money for my food so I deserve a nice bathroom experience, right?
So, I went up to the first employee I saw to complain. I said, "Just thought you would like to know that bathroom is gross! There's no toilet paper and it smells like something died in there." The lady (we'll call her Juanita) responded with, "No hablo ingles."
I gave up, walked out and went to the bathroom at my house which was only a few blocks away.
In my little town, "no hablo ingles" really meant "I really do speak English but want you to think I don't to evade responsibility." My friend Gerardo used that magical phrase for getting out of a j-walking ticket. The policeman bought it and let him go, citation free.
I have to admit that I really wanted to use that line a few times growing up. Like when Ernesto tried to kiss me. Or when Maria wanted to fight me for looking in her direction. It doesn't work too well when you are a pasty gringa. Despite the fact that I thought I was Mexican for the first 16 years of my life, I was really at a disadvantage...
I tried that line, modified once a few years later when Nicole and I were at the Manti Temple pageant. An anti-Mormon tried to give me some pamphlet on how Mormons are going to hell. I said in Spanish, "No hablo Espanol. Solomente Japonese." (I don't speak Spanish, only Japonese). It didn't really work, but it gave us a good laugh.
The the other day, something beautiful happened...
I pull up to the Arco gas station in my nice, shiny red Honda Accord, sporting my "BYU Alumni" license plate rim. There are a lot of people around... to my left I notice a rough looking man, in his early 30's wearing a jacket that said, "Auto Glass". He wasn't pumping gas or even near a car so I thought he was loitering looking for a hot date. Knowing my track record for attracting strange people at gas stations, I cautiously locked my doors and pretended to get out my debit card and can of mace.
After a few minutes he was still standing there, leaving me no choice but to get out of my car. I have to say, I was a little bit nervous... cause by this point he was totally checking me out... and the two cracks in my windshield. Even still, I didn't want to talk to him.
I get out of my car, and he says to me, "Hi ma'am, how are you today?"
My mind races with how I am going to get out of this... and then I remember my friend Juanita from Burger King.
I give him a blank stare, shake my head and say in my best Spanish ever, "No hablo ingles."
Then he said very slowly , "Oh ok. Have a nice day." Yup just like that. And then he walked away to his next victim.
It worked! It really worked!
I might use that line again if occasion permits. I think everyone should try it just once in their lifetime.
It just goes to show that you can take the gringa out of Ghettofield but you can't take the Ghettofield out of THIS girl!
*I dedicate this entry to Juanita from Burger King, Gerardo and all my other amigos who used and will use "No hablo ingles" to get out of jail free.