A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to go back in time. Yep, time travel. It was circa 1999, I was sixteen, and I was speechless. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got to relive my infatuation with Enrique Iglesias! Am I a little embarrassed? Not really. We’ve all had embarrassing infatuations, right? Anyhow, my friend Ana generously
bought me a ticket for his recent show at the Gibson as my birthday present. Yes, she is pretty awesome.
Before we went and grabbed our seats, I waited outside the restrooms for Ana and her sister, at which time I was able to witness the following interaction:
Another girl, maybe of the more appropriate age of sixteen, was standing next to me, presumably also waiting for her friends. As most people, um…women, in attendance, she looked very much Hispanic: dark hair, brown eyes, darker skin. I, on the other hand, was part of the white girl minority in attendance.
Because of the obvious disparity in the male-female attendance ratio, the Gibson had changed the signs of a few of the mens restroom to better serve the female population. One older event staff member, let’s call her Maria, was trying to make us women aware of this, since the women’s restroom had a huge line, and the restroom next door, which was also marked “women’s”, was almost entirely empty. Maria kept pointing to women in the line, and telling them to go to the other restroom. After
a few minutes of continuously telling new arrivals to keep walking to the next restroom, she turns to my Waiting Buddy and starts talking to her in Spanish, “these women! I’m trying to tell them the next one is completely empty! Ay ay ay, I’m gonna have to stand here all night!” The way she said this reminded me of my grandmother: super sweet and joking older lady, just trying to get a laugh out of her job.
Throughout this conversation, Waiting Buddy was just starring back at her like she was crazy, while I tried to contain my smile at Maria’s funny outburst, since she wasn’t talking to me and I’m sure she didn’t think I understood a word (I’m always afraid people are going to think I’m crazy when I react to things I overhear…when they don’t think I understand…they probably think I’m crazy, right?).
It occurred to me that Waiting Buddy had no idea what Maria had just said. I felt sad for multiple reasons. For one, that Maria didn’t want to joke with ME because I looked like a white girl who couldn’t understand her…even though I totally got her jokes! And two, I felt bad for Waiting Buddy, who didn’t know what she was missing out on. Like so many second or third generation children, they come from Hispanic families but are never taught, or maybe don’t want to be taught, the language of their heritage.
Waiting Buddy’s buddies walked out of the restroom, and as they were walking away, Waiting Buddy was telling her friends how the cleaning lady had started talking to her because the cleaning lady thought she spoke Spanish…and she hadn’t understood a word. I had to smile to myself.