If You’re in the Mood to Pity Me

So, our shower head broke yesterday, and the task of buying a new one fell on my shoulders. As with so many random things, I had no idea how to say it in Spanish.

I checked our ginormous English-Spanish dictionary, under “shower.” While there were many other useful terms connected to the word shower (such as how to say “shower with affection”) they did not include direction on how to translate “shower head.”

So I looked up the seemingly closest, more precise word: faucet. It told me what I expected: llave.

This means “key” as in “keys” that open doors, and apparently faucets. I did the translating in my head, came up with a phrase and headed to Sears (pronounced Say-arz).

Walking aimlessly in the ferreteria (hardware section), I was spotted by a worker, who asked me if I needed help.

“Si! Estoy buscando para llaves de la duche.”

I got the look I know so well: Befuddlement, with suppressed laughter. Happens to me constantly folks — it’s the consequence of moving to another country with a different language than your own and the lack of a personal translator by your side.

If you’re lucky, the experience is humiliating enough that you’ll never forget the proper word ever again. If you’re not lucky, you’ll either never figure out the word, or people will instantly start laughing.

In my case, I happened to spot the “llaves de la ducha” in the back corner just as I was asking. “Por alla!” I said, pointing and walking to them.

I think I heard a giggle behind me as he followed me, and once we got to the wall of shower appliances, I asked “como se llaman?” while pointing to the showerhead.

“Regaderas,” he said.

And that’s when I realized I was asking for the keys to the shower. At Sears.

3 thoughts on “If You’re in the Mood to Pity Me

  1. Bob Mrotek says:

    Hang in there Joy. You are doing great. After ten years I still sometimes get quizzical looks and a sniggle when I use the wrong term. The dictionary may be correct but many times it isn’t “right” as I am sure you know what I mean. Learning by doing is the best way. Onward and upward…

  2. Frank says:

    Ah, Spanish – where “close enough” is never close enough. Like the time I wanted a quarter-kilo of pork and got four kilos (cuarto/cuatro), or told my neighbor whose cochera I was blocking that it would just take me a minute to finish taking a shit in my car (cargar/cagar). Let’s not even talk about the mistake I made ordering an ice cream cone.

    But then, an amigo whose car broke down in the US wound up asking the mechanics how much the handjob (mano de obra) would cost, so I guess this stuff works both ways

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