With no new guests since our last entry, the weather getting hotter all the time and our essential lack of ambition it has been a pretty quiet couple of weeks. How’s that for an opening hook? Bet you can’t wait for what comes next. It gets better. I’m going to share some of the more truly mundane (“it is mundane, I know, it’s great”) odds and ends of staying in La Penita. Oh yeah, I should also warn you that I just finished reading Catcher in the Rye again and am finding it hard to shake some of the odd 1940’s prep school slang old Holden uses. I really am.
Right after Andie and Ryan left, old George’s daughter and three granddaughters arrived to stay for five weeks, effortlessly bursting our comfortably secluded little bubble. They are actually quite a nice group, the mom and three girls between the ages of 7 and 12, although there has been a significant increase in the overall level of squealing coming from the pool. Laynni had only been able to do so much on her own….
Marta, the woman who essentially looks after the whole place, doing all the cleaning, etc. and whom we see every day, does not speak a word of English. She really doesn’t. Which is fine, since I’m trying to work on my Spanish anyway and Laynni has, over the years, become shockingly effective at using non-verbal communication to overcome language barriers. And I’m not talking about the subtle facial movements and fidgety hands you hear about on cop shows or from half-drunk amateur poker players. No, there is nothing subtle about the intensity she brings to the situation but neither can I argue with its success. Inevitably a couple times on every trip we end up in some difficult situation where I find myself struggling to awkwardly piece together some vaguely relevant words in the local language, generally causing even more confusion and eventually resulting in a look that clearly means they can’t decide if they are more embarrassed for themselves or for me.
Then, as the “conversation” grinds painfully to a halt Laynni will suddenly begin hopping back and forth, her wide eyes and intense grin portraying a bizarre mixture of eagerness and lack of intelligence. She waves her arms to and fro like she’s signaling in Oceanic 815 for an emergency landing, alternately nodding – then shaking – her head and punctuating each direction with a questioning grunt “Hnnhh? Hnnhh? HNNHH?” Just as my hand starts to cover my eyes in mortification I hear a voice light up (in this case, Marta’s) “Ah, si! Si!” before she walks away, clearly in full comprehension of situation. I look at old Laynni in disbelief and she just shrugs, “She’s going to clean our room on Thursday. Oh yeah, she’s going to get us some extra garbage bags, too.” Boy, I felt like a real phony.
Strangely enough, though, while they seem to have a telepathic connection when it comes to mops, towels and laundry, Martha just revealed last week that somehow she still wasn’t sure what Laynni’s name was.
Some good news: an odd sequence of events last week involving a real phony pastry vendor, a crazy powerful microwave and my overly sensitive tongue resulted in the invention of an exciting new phrase. While I intend to retain the copyright, I encourage you all to use “Hey, how would you like to blow on my donut?” as much as you need during your next date, job interview or nephew’s birthday party. I really do.
I recently learned that the Spanish word I’ve been using to say things such as “catch a bus” or “catch a fish”, while technically correct, is actually used a bit differently in Mexico. Apparently here my comments could be more accurately translated as “having sex with a bus” or “pounding a fish”. Ironically, that also means that if you were to directly translate Catcher in the Rye, it would probably come across as something like “Being Sodomized with Bread”. And I can’t even describe how it sounded in Spanish when I tried to explain that I wanted to “catch George before he finished with the pool guy.”
Last week was Laynni’s birthday (I will prudently choose not to use the term ‘old Laynni’ in this particular instance) so, after dazzling her with a shiny red balloon that says Happy Birthday and was lousy with festive stars, I organized an all-star schedule of events which included Pizza Hut, a McDonald’s sundae, movie popcorn, Watchmen, shopping for soccer cleats and yet more Smoked Ham for supper. The sacrifices we make for our loved ones…. Then, running the risk of overwhelming her with kindness, I even stepped in dogshit for her, wiping it off with my hand in the dark before realizing what it was.
Just for her special day. Swooning, anyone? She was. At least until all the junk food caught her body off-guard and combined to create some kind of toxic organic soup that distended her belly until it looked like her celebration revolved mainly around swallowing large melons and faking pregnancy. A joke that every guy finds hilarious. We really do.
Well, we’ll do our best to do something soon so that next time I can describe all the things we’ve done and are planning to do, regardless of whether they are worth doing or not. Sorry, now I’m just being a big phony.