This morning before work I stopped at the cobbler shop to pick up two pairs of heels I needed to have resoled.
I got there and the three dudes behind the counter were talking rapidly in Spanish. Wordlessly I handed one my ticket and he went to retrieve my shoes. But pretty soon he hit a snag.
"I can't find her shoes," he told the others in Spanish.
Dude #2 went to help him look and after several minutes of searching they came back with one pair.
"I gave them to him," I said in English, pointing at Dude #3.
The three of them gathered around a notebook of sales and started arguing in Spanish about my shoes.
"She had two pairs! Where's the second pair?" "Were they both black?" "No, she wouldn't bring in two black pairs!" "Yes, the second one had a point."
Ok, ok. Enough was enough. I interrupted them in Spanish.
"I brought in two black pairs. The other pair had a pointy toe, like he said."
They stared at me, dumbfounded, and then started to laugh.
"Where did you learn Spanish? You don't have an accent!"
"I'm Cuban. I learned from my parents and grandparents."
After that I became their new best friend. They explained that Dude #3 had "just fallen in love" so he "couldn't remember anything." "You'll understand when you fall in love," they said wisely. I laughed.
Those moments are so awesome, when I get to use my rusty but native Spanish and shock the heck out of whoever I'm talking to. It's come in handy more times than I can count. And it's fantastic for eavesdropping. ;)
I'm grateful my parents had the foresight to pass on their first language to me. Even though my Spanish is reeeeeeally rusty, I hope I can pass it on to my children too.