Hola, class! Today, we’re going to learn some basic Spanish. As you know, Spanish is the second most popular language in New York City, just behind English and just in front of Mandarin. Spanish is for everyone! Español es para todo el mundo! Repeat, please.
Here in New York, there are many Spanish speakers from all over the world. Today, we’re going to learn some new vocabulary words to better communicate with them.
Lesson One: Pendejo
Pendejo (pen DAY ho) is a word that will come in handy. Google translates it as “fool” – ok, let’s go with that! Now, we’re going to use it in conversation. Let’s say that a lawyer (un abogado – please don’t confuse with “avocado” which is what you’ll need for our end-of-term fiesta) has a problem.
El abogado (the lawyer) se llama Aaron Schlossberg (is named Aaron Schlossberg). Aaron tiene una problema.
Aaron’s problem is that he doesn’t like hearing Spanish! And, he gets enraged (tiene una rabia) when he DOES hear Spanish. He doesn’t like hearing Español in a boat (un barco), in a moat (un foso), in a box (en una caja) or with a fox (con un zorro). Or in midtown Manhattan, even when the Spanish-speaking people who are working to create his “chopt” salad are speaking it to each other and not to him. Maybe they are saying “este abogado quiere un avocado” (“the lawyer wants an avocado”). Even this simple phrase sends Aaron into a saliva-flinging rampage.
He is un pendejo.
Homework: watch this short video.
Lesson Two: America
America has many meanings. In Spanish, we can say “North America” and “South America” (Norteamérica y Sudamerica) But, in Aaron’s mind, when we say “This is America” we mean “This is a country where it should be illegal to speak any language except English.” If we dig a little deeper into Aaron’s mind, we may find the words “America is a country for white people who speak English. Brown people who speak something else need to be carrying my golf clubs”. Aaron doesn’t like that part, because it would mean he is racist (un abogado racista).
But in Spanish, and in English too, “America” can also mean “land of the free” and “home of the brave”. That’s what it means here in New York City, where we are free to speak all languages because we come from all human families. And, we are brave. We don’t stand around meekly with our heads hung low, hoping that the abogado racista will stop being so embarrassing and just pay for his damned avocado salad and leave. No. We fight back.
Homework: Get Aaron disbarred from practicing law in New York State.
Lesson Three: Verguenza
Vergüenza (ber GWEN za) means “shame”, vergonzoso means “shameful” and vergüenzeria means “a shameful thing”. If you are a sin vergüenza (SEEN ber GWEN za) it means you are shameless.
Shame makes its appearance at the end of the short film assigned in our first class. Aaron, a sin vergüenza if ever there was, tries to use a little weaponized vergüenza in his personal scorched-earth policy. Having bitten off more than he can chew, Aaron flees the scene but not before using fat-shaming as his parting shot. “Maybe you should put down that sandwich”, he says to the camera (translation in any language: “you’re not attractive enough for me to nail”). The woman recording expresses all our sentiments by firing back “maybe you should get hit by a car, you racist piece of sh*t”.
Homework: Background reading about other things Aaron does, then write an essay about whether Aaron’s behavior is vergüenzeria or “douche-bagginess” (no Spanish equivalent)
Lesson Four: Una Apologia
The neighborhood is in an uproar. People who have had other run-ins with this pendejo upload THEIR clips showing him going off on other racist rants. Journalists hound him. Former clients admit they fired him, not even for being racist, but for being a major pingon (see entry for pinga in Libro de Anatomia del Hombres). He is shunned – yes, shunned, by his fellow avocados – I mean abogados. His landlord terminates his lease. Calls to his own
mother bounce to vm. His twitter feed blows up. His call girls triple their rates. His doorman stops signing for his packages. His Chihuahua, Pepe, notices that Aaron has the nerve to post “we speak Spanish!” on his own website, and bites him in the culo as soon as he comes home.
What can Aaron do? He can issue una apologia.
Homework: translate into Spanish: “Wow, I just figured out I’m a total jerk! Who knew?”
Lesson Five: La Fiesta
In most cities, we’d end with Lesson Four. But not here in New York City! We New Yorkers like to make sure there’s no mistaking our intentions. Also, we enjoy a nice fiesta.
The last time we gave such an impressive party for racista pendejos was back in 1999, when the KKK staged a very ill-advised rally in downtown Manhattan. Spoiler alert – it did not go well. 6000 New Yorkers turned out to taunt 18 hooded klansmen, who were surrounded by NY’s finest (for their own protection). Before the first pendejo racista could start to speak, 3 of their number ripped off the hoods and revealed themselves to be plants. Surprise! Instead of 18 k-men, there were 15, plus 3 protesters who proceeded to beat the crap out of the others. A melee ensued. I’m not in favor of melees, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Here’s the point. Is there racism in NYC? You betcha. Do we take it lying down? No.
Aaron was lucky. For him, we had a party instead of a melee. A group of protestors armed with a mariachi band and free tacos held una fiesta in the street outside Aaron’s building. The local Chinese place sent some Jade Chicken . Ask your Chinese teacher how to say “una fiesta con tacos por un pendejo” in Mandarin.
Homework: Form a mariachi band and head to Aaron’s new office space (under a bridge in Central Park).
Extra Credit – Dialogue practice
Aaron : Hola Paco. Cómo estás? Paco : Hola Aaron. Yo estoy bien. Pero tu eres un pendejo. Aaron : Es verdad. Yo soy una pinga muy grande. Paco : Sí. Tu tienes un culo en place de tu cabeza. Aaron : Claro que sí, hombre! Es una vergüenza que soy abogado. Paco : Queres un taco? Aaron : No, gracias. Voy a pasar al frente de un carro. Paco : Muy bien! Adiós, amigo! Más música, muchachos!