Oh, Lucy

My husband speaks English fluently. (Though, when we started dating a good friend of mine thought he didn’t, that he was a maintenance guy in my building or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! That friend shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. Plus it’s probably my fault for ceaselessly calling him my Latin Lover.) Nevertheless, he sometimes has endearing ESL mishaps, the most famous of which is referring to “the bloody nose seats” instead of the nosebleed section.

Mexico City, 2008

Certainly more humorous are my forays into Spanish. And even more, my dad’s, who when visiting our Spanish-speaking church and is welcomed in front of the congregation says “Vaya con Dios!” (go with God)—which according to him is preferable to the other Spanish phrases that come quickly to his mind: curses picked up on the soccer field. Even more preferable would be a simple smile and head nod or wave. (Love you, Dad!)

So while language confusion and lost-in-translation hijinx have always been a recipe for laughs (much like cross-dressing), I find these situations even funnier now. And I cringe more, because I understand the humiliation.

I’m not alone. This recap of an I Love Lucy episode, by another gringa married to a latino, made me smile! Surely Israel and I aren’t as bad as Lucy and Ricky. He doesn’t resort to calling me names in Spanish during an argument. He did laugh at me though, when I practiced my Spanish by asking a waiter on our honeymoon whether Shakira had actually stayed at that same hotel.

Me, with terrible accent: ¿Es verdad que Shakira vino aquí?

Waiter: Sí.

Me: [Silence. Red face.]

No help or intervention from Israel. Laughter. Total immersion is his policy.

Ay yay yay.

Back to Lucy: at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, you can see Lucy (and others you’re accustomed to viewing in black and white) in color. Click for the slideshow of the exhibit “In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio.” When you see Warnecke’s color photos from an era before the technology was widely used, you realize that your mind has been operating on the belief that people such as baseball great Ted Williams lived in a black and white world. They seem fake to me in color. And this reviewer believes I Love Lucy wouldn’t have been as funny in color. Would you agree? Do you love Lucy?

“Lucy, you cannot be in the show.”

“But Ricky…!”

“Ay-ya-yay-ya-yay-ya-yay.
Ésta pelirroja está loca.”

“And don’t jabber at me in a foreign tongue!”

5 thoughts on “Oh, Lucy

  1. Of course, Josie, I love the post since I am the world’s biggest ‘I Love Lucy’ fan. Your exchange in Mexico reminds me of the episode where Lucy was meeting Ricky’s family for the first time and she needed to really impress Uncle Alberto. Alberto asked Lucy if she wanted any punch, to which Lucy should have replied “Si, muchas gracias.” Instead, she replied, “Si, macho grasa” which loosely translated means, “Yes, you fat pig.” Hilarity ensued.

  2. Maybe between you and Tim you can write a blog of the Ortega ESL mishaps….the other day jokingly I told Tim he better let me know before we pull the plug. He as like: “wait, don’t you plug the pull when you kill someone? You mean pull the trigger.”
    :-)

  3. As far as language mishaps go, your grandmother was well known for them, even though she definitely spoke only one language. When I was in high school, I went to see the movie “True Grit.” She told one of my friends that I had gone to see “No Guts.”
    And…
    I Do Love Lucy. Are there people that don’t Love Lucy and Ricky? Have they seen Lucy and Ricky? I don’t know if she and Ricky were funnier in black and white than they would have been in color; but I do think that over 50 years later, they are still funny, and that’s pretty amazing.

  4. Pingback: Mexican Made | tell me a story

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