Each day I am learning more and more new words of this beautiful new language. Hints come to me in conversation such as body language and context. But today all was lost down the toilet in my epic battle with the Spanish language.
I had to tinkle.
I went into the ladies staff rest room. There are two cubicles and the first was already occupied. A woman was mumbling something, so I ignored her. She continued her chatter a bit louder. I figured she must be talking on the phone, so I stayed quiet. It sounded a bit like she was asking a question but again, I assumed she was on the phone. She was a bit more persistent with her communication and that’s when I realized she must be trying to start a conversation with me.
“Hola” , I said, a bit too loud.
More sentences I did not understand came from my neighbors stall. I could not see body language or understand context. I was lost. Was she asking me about my day? Was she wanting to share daily gossip? I should probably be friendly and ask her how her day has been.
“Cómo esta?” I asked.
Then back to the chatter. The silence made it very clear I must have read this cultural moment wrong. Oh dear. I hope I didn’t offend her. The staff here is so wonderful. I don’t want to mess things up.
Every culture seems to have its bathroom etiquette. Is it normal to just chat it up with your bathroom buddy? Nothing like sharing a recipe for cookies while taking a pause to refresh ones self. Some cultures see it as taboo to even think about these precious moments. Which culture was I in?!?! What is a girl to do?!
I took the safe route. I stayed silent. I would wait until she left first, then I would leave. Then she wouldn’t know who it was that was so rude….or not rude…or just language deficient.
She walked out the door. Feewwww. I was finally alone. It was at that moment that I realized. I had no toilet paper.
Guess what this means in Spanish…..
“Oye, no hay papel higiénico en ese puesto. ¿Quieres que te lance algo para ti?”
Roughly translated is….
“Hey, hey, hello lady. Yes you. Yes I’m fine. There is no toilet paper in that stall. Want me to toss some over for you? Hello. Want TP? Oh dear. You don’t know what I’m saying. Oh no. Well, enjoy air drying there sweet cheeks.”
Again, that is a rough translation.
So the moral of the story is:
Learn Spanish or Air Dry….sweet cheeks.