me gustan frijoles negros, and other musings in spanglish.

4 May

So as we established a long time ago, I grew up in the restaurant business. I was 8 when my parents opened their first place, and naturally me and my brother were dragged to work with them quite often (This is a pretty gruesome business as far as hours go, so they probably wanted to see us sometimes). As a result, I “made friends” with some alternative characters. For instance, a soft shell crab and a bartender are not necessarily the type of people who an 8-year-old hangs out with. But the best alternative characters I’ve known over the years aren’t my friends at all. ¡¡¡They’re my amigos!!!

Well at first they were my amigos. But then at a certain point, oddly enough right about the time I got boobs, all of my amigos wanted to be my novios. One busboy from Guatemala asked me on a date to see “Dance With Me” with Vanessa Williams and Cheyenne. Another asked me if I wanted to go to Pancho Villas for enchiladas and guacamole (I wasn’t yet turned on to avocados at that point and a date to a Mexican place seemed cliche so I declined). The first Spanish guy who really caught my attention was Omar from Honduras. He was MUY CALIENTE and so charming and tan and he used to run home from work in his wife beater. We would flirt and talk about me being in high school and the owner’s kid*, and shit like that. Then one day I was driving home from work in my fancy base model red Mustang and there was Omar, jogging down the street in his beater, glistening in the setting sun (is this what 50 Shades of Grey is like? Look, you don’t even have to buy this on your Kindle). So I slowed down and I asked him if he wanted a ride, and he said yes, of course because why the hell would he say no? And I got to his house and he kissed me and we fell in love and lived happily ever after. Just kidding, we didn’t live happily ever after because life isn’t really like the movie “Dance With Me.” But he did give me a rose on my windshield one time and it was like the happiest/weirdest day of my life because the rose was doused in his cologne and I couldn’t really figure that one out but he’s so hot that I just went with it.

I think about Omar from time to time, but only because some of the guys in the kitchen know him and they bring him up to me and tell me that he said hi.

After Omar, I tried to keep it light with the guys in the kitchen. (Clearly that didn’t work, as I married one of them.) The keys to restaurant relationships with Spanish guys are Spanglish and short skirts. Spanglish is so they see that you’re making an effort to communicate with them in their native tongue (and also to let them know that you sort of understand what they’re saying so they should shut the fuck up about your breasts). The short skirts are to get them to be really nice to you all the time and make you a sandwich whenever you ask for it, unless you’re on a diet and then they make you lowfat healthy things even if you ask for fried chicken.

The thing about the Spanish guys (who are Spanish as in Spanish-speaking, not Spanish as in of Spain, and NOT ALL MEXICAN) is that they’re so fucking cranky. It’s like, if you don’t come say hola to them in the morning and ask them ¿Como estas? they talk about you en español todo el dia. I know this because for so many years I was super shy around them, and all day long I’d hear “ella, ella, ella” and, being the only girl in the room, I quickly figured out to whom they were referring. I remedied this situation by getting to know them as the actual people they are, and finding common ground such as going to Cancun on Spring Break and songs by Shakira.

Also they like to dance and sing. Harry and I have gone with them a couple of times to the changarro, or as Harry and I refer to it “the place where you go to pay $20 for a Corona and a dance with a chubby Latina with occasional good live mariachi music and bodyguards to protect the white folks.” (Upon discussion with the kitchen guys, I learned that a Coronita is only $10, but you aren’t allowed to do any touching) Well, we didn’t go alone, because you need to go with people who can protect you (from what, I have no idea but that’s what they always say). But we’d go with a group of the kitchen guys and MAN do they love to sing and dance. I thought it was strange in the kitchen that they have their own little lunchtime glee club going on, but wait till you’re sitting in a dark bar and there’s just a bunch of drunk Salvadorians swaying and singing along to the music. Quite the spectacle.

The greatest thing about these guys is their sense of community. Everyone is their cousin. If someone isn’t their cousin, he’s their uncle. I’ve never seen anything like it. As a result, they throw killer backyard parties in the summertime, which Harry and I love to swing invites to. They love their kids and their God and their neighborhood and the little town from which they moved and chicharones for lunch. When I was looking to hire a babysitter for my kiddies, my first thought was to hire a Spanish girl. To raise them right. (Bilingual, for one. And I’d love if someone would cook some fresh yucca now and then….) I wound up finding a regular white girl who is going to be so psyched that I’m writing about her (not sure about this particular post, but what do you want from my life?) and while she doesn’t cook yucca, she’s raising them right anyway.

I’d like to dedicate this post to Sra. Davidson who eats at my restaurant and always compliments me for growing up to be fabulous and amazing and who taught me all of the mediocre Spanish I know. Other than the curses.

*Sidebar on being the owner’s kid. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages. Advantages were that it was fucking awesome and everyone was forced to be nice to me, and I never got sexually harassed unless I said it was ok. Disadvantages were that I developed huge attachment and trust issues to this day as a result of almost everyone I ever attempted to care about either getting fired or quitting and cursing out one of my parents.  Also, once I got to my later teens, the lines got blurry as to who was trying to court me because they liked me, and who was trying to court me to win some sort of contest among “real” employees. Oh well. Pile it on to my gaggle of issues due to this fantabulous biz. Perhaps one night soon I’ll make a big list.


One Response to “me gustan frijoles negros, and other musings in spanglish.”


  1. ¡ay dios mio! « shelbytown - May 10, 2012

    […] IT WAS OMAR!!!!! […]

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