As my weeks wind down in Buenos Aires I've been evaluating my accomplishments. I can't say I've gotten a handle on the language, but I can see the handle off in the distance. For instance, one day I said to the elderly woman around the corner, "You are a pidgeon?" but I at least realized my mistake (the next day). Progress.
My Minnesota Nice has been chipped away ... a good thing. I now wag my finger at homicidal taxi drivers who have me in their sights and shout "Don't you dare fucking run over me," in English of course, but the message gets across.
Last week an old man in a uniform showed up at my door. Normally, I don't open my door for anyone I don't know ... it's dangerous in this city. But looking through my door's peek hole, I figured I could take him if I had to and my curiosity was piqued.
"Shhhhestashowwwquantashaaa," he greeted me. This is how Castellano sounds to me when I don't understand it.
"No entiendo," I replied.
"Shhheeeeboletoshoshesta," he answered, and thrust two pieces of cardboard towards me.
"No Espanol," I countered.
He started pleading in the Italian tone people use here to wear you down. To get rid of him, I took the cards, said goodbye and shut the door, chucking them in the garbage.
Bzzzzzzz, Bzzzzz. My doorbell.
"Dinero, dinero, viente pesos," he whined.
Now, I understood this. He had given me something that required money in return. I was a little pissed off.
"Un momento," I replied, shutting the door.
Fishing out the two papers amongst coffee grounds, I examined them closer. Ah, two tickets to the policemen's ball. Now, I've got a thing for a man in a uniform and this ball would be many men in POLICIA uniforms (might I be so shameless as to say, "and might be just my ticket"), but I was feeling tricked.
Opening the door I thrust the two pieces of cardboard back into his hands.
"Vamoose, senior, vamoose!" I said in my sternest tone with a cartoonish expression of irritation. Now, I've only heard "vamoose" said in old John Wayne movies and I must admit, it's very satisying to say.
I shut the door in his face. We NEVER do this in Minnesota.
And don't even get me started on the knife sharpener guy.