Antonio loved ketchup. He was mister easy as far as house guests go. “We to going shopping? Cooool!” When I asked him what thing he wanted people to know about Chile, he said, “Chile is Real. I want people to know that Chile is Rrreal.”
He was party to my single most memorable Spanish-English snafu. Antonio was nothing if not easy-going. He was affable and enthusiastic. My Spanish was just barely passable. I knew enough to get myself into trouble, but not nearly enough to get myself out. But I soldiered on, muddled through.
Antonio spoke almost no English when he first arrived. When I needed to fill spaces with conversation I usually made small-talk in Spanish as I went about the business of my day. I was primarily a housewife, so my business involved a lot of running down to the abasement to do laundry. Our basement was damp and smelly at the time.
I’d run down to the basement and come up and comment, “Uff, the basement is so damp, and it stinks.” or maybe I’d drop at, “Don’t go looking at my basement, because it’s gross.” He always smiled in a puzzled and surprised, but polite way. It never started a long conversation.
Here’s me, huffing and puffing up from the laundry, with or without the attendant basket of clean or dirty laundry, “Uff, el sosten esta tan sucio.” or “El sosten huele muy mal hoy.” or “no miras, porque mi sosten esta un disastre.” Giving him a little start.
He had returned to Chile when out of nowhere, it hit me: The Spanish word for basement is one of two things. It’s either bésman (mexenglish) or sótano. Then what, pray tell, is sosten? Hmm. Sosten. sustain, support… Dang. It isn’t…? Yup. It can be either jock strap or brassiere according to the English/Spanish Dictionary.
I’m surprised Antonio didn’t just pack up and leave after the first time I told him not to look at my bra because it was a smelly disaster. He was such a good sport.