Earning respect with a visit to the supermarket

By Norman Palaby
This item appears on page 51 of the August 2015 issue.
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Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged. 

This month’s winner is NORMAN PALABY of San Francisco, CA:

 

My Salvadoran wife and I traveled to El Salvador to visit her family and relatives. They speak and understand only Spanish, and my knowledge of the Spanish language is minimal, left over from what I learned in high school decades ago. Wherever I went, my wife or a relative would accompany me for translation purposes. 

After a while, I wanted to prove that I was a worthy husband who was confident and independent, so I told all the tías (aunts) to take a break one morning because this proud American was going to prepare lunch for the entire family. In that culture, the woman manages the household while the man is the breadwinner; they were flabbergasted at my suggestion. My wife offered to come with me to the supermarket, but I told her, “I’ve got this.”

At the market, I was a man on a mission. After gathering all the meat and vegetables, I just needed onions, but I couldn’t find them and didn’t know how to say the word “onions” in Spanish. Reluctantly, I called my wife for help.

When I returned to the house and a kitchen full of relatives, my wife asked if I was able to get the onions. “Yes,” I answered. 

“How did you ask?”

I told her I said to the produce lady, “Escupeme, donde esta los cebollas?”

There was a split second of silence, then my loving wife and all the family burst out in uncontrollable laughter. My wife then translated. I had said to the produce lady, “Spit on me. Where are the onions?”

My stir-fried dish with onions was muy deliciosa (and I should have asked, “Disculpe, donde esta las cebollas?”).

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged. 

This month’s winner is NORMAN PALABY of San Francisco, CA:

 

My Salvadoran wife and I traveled to El Salvador to visit her family and relatives. They speak and understand only Spanish, and my knowledge of the Spanish language is minimal, left over from what I learned in high school decades ago. Wherever I went, my wife or a relative would accompany me for translation purposes. 

After a while, I wanted to prove that I was a worthy husband who was confident and independent, so I told all the tías (aunts) to take a break one morning because this proud American was going to prepare lunch for the entire family. In that culture, the woman manages the household while the man is the breadwinner; they were flabbergasted at my suggestion. My wife offered to come with me to the supermarket, but I told her, “I’ve got this.”

At the market, I was a man on a mission. After gathering all the meat and vegetables, I just needed onions, but I couldn’t find them and didn’t know how to say the word “onions” in Spanish. Reluctantly, I called my wife for help.

When I returned to the house and a kitchen full of relatives, my wife asked if I was able to get the onions. “Yes,” I answered. 

“How did you ask?”

I told her I said to the produce lady, “Escupeme, donde esta los cebollas?”

There was a split second of silence, then my loving wife and all the family burst out in uncontrollable laughter. My wife then translated. I had said to the produce lady, “Spit on me. Where are the onions?”

My stir-fried dish with onions was muy deliciosa (and I should have asked, “Disculpe, donde esta las cebollas?”).