Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Three weeks before Christmas in 1992 my boss came into my office and asked "Do you have a valid passport? They want you to go to Mexico City to lead the Hasbro pitch." Well of course I had the passport, but my retention of high school Spanish amounted to "Mas cerveza por favor." An intensive Berlitz program for relocating executives and eleven months of working in a bi-lingual office fixed that. Buy the time I returned to New York the following October, my Spanish language skills resembled those of a precocious Mexican three- year-old. I had begun to stop translating in my head. I just sort of felt the words wash over me. I'd understand the jist of what was being said and would respond without knowing exactly what I was saying either. But it worked.

I've been in beauty school now for eleven months. About the same amount of time that I had been living in Mexico when I stopped translating in my head. I can now end a sentence in a preposition, truncate my sentences, and use ghetto slang with aplomb. I still struggle with the double negative. No sure I'll ever be able to adopt that one. Whenever I use these new language skills I'm surprised when no one calls me out on it. Some times I find myself actually thinking in this new (to me) colloquial grammar. Kind of like when I was immersed in the Spanish language.

I have an octogenarian client who use to be a Dean at UC. I gave her Newsweek to read under the dryer and told her I thought she'd enjoy the article on Mark Twain, "the release of his memoir, 100 years after his death was the impetus for the article." I thought to myself "I just said 'impetus!' then I looked around to see if anyone heard me.

I need to spend some more time with my own demographic.

No comments: