We have a neighbor we call Creepy Indian Guy. Not because he’s Indian. It’s because he’s creepy. He’s a starer. He spends a good part of the day hanging out in front of his house just staring at whatever apparently needs staring at. Like a super hero with laser eye powers that are on the fritz but he’s keeping in practice anyway. And a lot of times it’s me mowing the lawn or getting something out of my car that is the object of ocular fascination.
And I try to be nice. I wave to him. Sometimes he waves back. Sometimes not. It’s kind of like having Slingblade in a turban living across the street.
I’m pretty used to talking to people with accents, but this guy has a really heavy accent and any conversation with him tends to be difficult. And I can’t just smile and nod because more than once he’s tried to sell me a car. So I knew I was in for something interesting we knocked on my door one afternoon.
You see, he and I some of the few people at home during the day on my street. He being retired and me working from home of performance business.
So he knocks on my door one afternoon. I open the door and say hi. He responds with “Do you speak Spanish?” I tell him I don’t, but he insists that I must. He’s got a phone in his hand and thrusts it towards me saying “You talk to him! You talk to him!”
I repeat that I don’t speak Spanish as he hands me the phone. I put the phone to my ear and say hello. In response I get a flurry of Spanish. And no “hola”. Doesn’t anyone say hello anymore?
I say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Spanish.”, which is met with another flurry of Latino linguistics. Apparently I’d stepped into the middle of some sort of bi-lingual disagreement about the house remodeling they were doing. So, remembering a little bit from that middle school Spanish class I failed, I said, “No habla Espanol.” Which was met with…. silence.
And then the guy grumbled something in Spanish. Grumbling sounds the same in any language. I handed the phone back to Creepy Indian Guy, who just shook his head at me and walked off.
That wasn’t the first time I’d regretted taking 3 years of French in high school. And I mentally filed the story under “Things people in Kansas probably have never experienced.”