It’s time to meet los padres
By the time you read this, I will be on a plane headed for Costa Rica to meet my new sister-in-law.Does anyone know how to say “sister-in-law” in Spanish?It should be an interesting trip to say the least. My brother is already down there with his besotted, awaiting the arrival of our entire family to meet his future wife. I suspect the whole thing will turn out something like “Meet the Parents” meets “My Big Fat Costa-Rican Wedding” crossed with “Spanglish,” except no one will be able to talk to one another.I can get by with the Spanish that I learned during my year abroad in Spain in high school, although I don’t expect I’ll be asking my brother’s fiancée where I can score some hash, or talking about how great it is that there’s no drinking age. Truth be told, I spent the better part of the semester getting drunk with Americans, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes sprinkled with hash (“chocolate”) and enjoying the attention I got for having blond hair (Americana rubia).Come to think of it, my Spanish wasn’t so different than my English, in that I learned to say what I wanted to say but never really bothered to learn to understand what was being said to me. I had a few sentences totally dialed, and I’d just say them over and over again. Stuff like, “You’re not allowed to smoke on airplanes in the United States for any flight that’s under two hours.” I might be dating myself there, but it was my favorite because it was a long sentence with a lot of words and it almost always got a really intense reaction.I’ve been to Costa Rica on a few trips already, and on the rare occasion I actually talk to someone who isn’t American, it seems people down there have no problem understanding me. So I’m sure my brother is counting on me to fill up some of the silence that will surely descend upon us like mud in our shoes, making simple things like putting one foot in front of the other seem extremely difficult.Believe me, I have a great attitude. I’m totally accepting of the fact that the fiancée is only 20 years old, doesn’t speak English, didn’t finish high school, and has never left Costa Rica in her entire short life. She makes my brother happy and that’s all that matters. I’ve already decided that is going to be my mantra when my mom freaks out about having to throw used toilet paper in the wastebasket because Third World plumbing can’t handle it.I’ll admit, I did choke a little bit when I heard that she has five other siblings between the ages of 17 years and 10 months old. Her mother, who is closer in age to me than she is at 42, just had a baby last year. I guess the father works at night as a security guard and sleeps all day, so we won’t be seeing much of him. The 17-year-old sister is extremely jealous because she met my brother first and liked him, but (thank god) he had some boundaries; what with not dating a 16-year-old – he drew the line at 19.Of course, they all live together in what I’m assuming aren’t luxury accommodations. When I asked my brother if their house had floors, he said, “Yes, but there is grass growing through the cement in some places.”So you can imagine it’s going to be quite cozy when the Berkleys of Connecticut show up for dinner. I guess the mom is already planning on the meal, the homemade tortillas and the chicken (talk about farm raised/organic/fresh, this one will come from the pen in the backyard), and the avocados from the tree. My brother can’t say enough about life on the farm. He loves it so much that they’re getting married so he can bring her back to the U.S. as soon as possible.My dad’s been downloading podcasts of Spanish lessons he listens to while he is vacuuming (his all-time favorite activity) or doing other inane activities. He says he has gotten through lesson 14 and has learned to say things like, “we would like a room with a view of the ocean,” and “my wife does not eat meat.” His accent is horrendous – it comes out all harsh and full of saliva like Russian or Hebrew. Every time he tries to roll the letter “r” spit comes flying from his mouth, but he’s trying and it’s actually very touching. He loves his Spanish name and has started to sign off on all his e-mails with “Hasta pronto, Ricardo.” He loves the Ricardo thing. I guess it’s better than being called Dick.Mom is in total denial. I mean, she has hardly uttered two words about it, and you can forget about hearing those words in Spanish. “She’ll learn English when she gets here,” is all she said.Mom has been to Costa Rica once and loved it so much she booked our trip for five days. I was like, “Mom, you do realize it takes two days to get down there each way, right? Which would give us all of one full day to actually be there?”She conceded and rebooked the trip for six days.Needless to say it’s going to be a quick trip, but one that will be filled, I’m sure, with plenty of stories for me to tell when I return. In the meantime, I’ve been practicing at least a few things I might be able to say with the words I know.Something along the lines of “I have blond hair and don’t smoke hash on airplanes.”I am sure it’s going to all be todo bien.The Princess wonders if she should begin dating foreigners as well. E-mail your love to firstname.lastname@example.org
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