Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dêem-me um beijo

One of the good and bad things about Novo Le Blon, where we are staying, is that it is just a few minutes away from three consecutive shopping malls. The good part is that we can get whatever we need quickly and easily, be it food, water, medical supplies, or acai. The bad part is that it is modeled directly after U.S. American shopping malls, which sometimes makes me forget that we are in another country. That is, until I try to talk with someone. Most people here speak very little English.

Yesterday, Chimmy was a little fussy after his nap, so we walked to one of the shopping areas next door for a meal. Spider Guard ordered a dish with beef, rice, vegetables, and French fries and Chimmy and I split a pizza with faux pepperoni. It was decent, decently priced, and served by a cute Brazilian waitress.

Chimmy and I have been studying the same Portuguese language tapes, so I was looking forward to having another person help to communicate with the locals. Unfortunately, no matter how much you study at home, your first few encounters leave you shell shocked – your mind goes completely blank, drool forms in the corners of your mouth, your eyes roll back into your head, and you crumple to the floor muttering things like “Eu so Peter Jones! Eu so Peter Jones!” I could tell Chimmy was eager to practice, so after the meal I said, “OK – Time to use your Portuguese. When the waitress stops by, ask her for the check by saying, ‘Dêem-me um beijo.’”

Chimmy flagged down the waitress and said, “Dêem-me um beijo,” a little timidly, so the waitress put her ear close to his mouth so she could understand him better. He repeated, “Dêem-me um beijo,” and she looked momentarily horrified, then stuck out her index finger and wagged it back and forth (the Portuguese hand gesture for “No,” or in this case, “Leave me alone, you freak!”)

“What did I just say?” Chimmy asked on the verge of tears, upon noticing that I was laughing harder than I have in several decades.

“Dêem-me um beijo means ‘Give me a kiss.’”

“You need to fix this,” he said, “Tell her I didn’t know! Tell her I didn’t know!” Spider Guard and I tried to talk him down, and assure him that his reputation in Gracie Barra was not forever tarnished. The waitress went back behind the counter, and told her friends who immediately giggled over the joke. I apologized, we tipped well, and I’ve been telling that story to whoever will listen to me every since.

The King has spoken.

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