La Cuarentena Ayuda Espethial

For no reason other than there’s time, Sonny and I decided to study Spanish via Duolingo. It’s not like we’re going to any Spanish-speaking country–or any country, city, or barangay for that matter–soon, and I could die tomorrow making hours of contending with the app pointless. But to quote the judgmental, snarky Duolingo owl: Fifteen minutes a day with us will teach you a new language–what will fifteen minutes of social media teach you?! At the very least I get to discover which Filipino words are actually Spanish in origin. My current favorite for being the most relevant, of course, is ayuda meaning help.

Speaking of ayuda, we got a new ayuda pack this morning after three weeks! I excitedly opened the pack, hoping we would get more than rice and one piece of frozen chicken leg this time. So this time it is the ayuda bebida espethial: rice, instant coffee, and powdered milk. I will probably get the instant coffee and donate the rest to our regular recepients. I have been consuming inhuman amounts of instant coffee the past three months, which probably explains the laryngopharyngeal reflux symptoms I’ve been having. Or it could be a tumor, who the hell knows. Fuck. I mean, joder!

La cochinillo en Segovia

The last time I studied a new language was in the 90’s when we were required to take 12 units of language elective. Rocky, Kaka, Anj, and I took 6 units of French, and it was quite a harrowing experience. We were horrified of our professeur and it seemed like the entire semester all our energies were focused on figuring out whether a word is masculine or feminine, because even a rock has gender. Sometimes it’s easy enough to force it to make sense and create a mnemonic. For instance “window” is feminine because it’s a hole, or Monday is masculine because it’s the first day of the week and you’re sexist and you think men always come first. Or most cheeses are masculine because obviously, smegma. Most of the time, though, we just have to memorize that blue is female, and that other cheeses like fourme or ricotta have a hidden vagina.

Come exam time we would jumble everything up and I would treat Monday as female because obviously it’s the first day of the week, and as the saying goes, ladies first. For more aggravation we had a classmate from CAL who was so into French he was making all of us look bad–he was obviously the valedictorian in class. He was so bibo, in fact, that predictably he is now a government official and is always being interviewed on TV.

Some grilled chicken wings and coke
and Stephen King
somewhere in a plaza in Madrid
The following semester I decided to enroll in a relatively easier class and took 6 units of Bahasa Indonesia-Malaysia as recommended by Ms. Therese and Groin. Our guru was this nice, pretty woman with spindly fingers. She would regale us with stories of studying in Indonesia and give a daily 10-point quiz…with 5 bonus points. Sixteen years later I got to attend a conference in Jakarta, and I said terima kasih the whole weekend with conviction. The only other word I remember is syampu which stands for, of course, shampoo.
In two–or ten years, it might be safe and convenient to travel again. I would already be a regular Dora The Explorer or, dare I say it, Sancho de Guzman by that time, able to say something more than no no no, no hablo espanol!


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