This is a clip from my daughter's online journal. I put it here because I thought it was so funny. My lovely daughter down south, working hard to undo all those negative impressions of Americans generated by that megalomaniac in the White House. I figure this isn't plagiarism, I'm her mother and can do whatever I want with her words.
The other day Sofia and I went to pick her midget sister Milena up from her basketball game. Milena is not literally a midget, this is just me using my freedom of speech to emphasize the fact that for a human being she is unnaturally short (although probably right on track for an eight-year-old).
We decided to sit on the bleachers for a few minutes to watch the boys play basketball, and Milena's friend Gris came running up. She sat to Milena's right, and Milena whispered to her that I am her American Cousin. This is a big deal for tiny people. Gris's eyes got huge and she consulted earnestly with Milena for a minute. Assured of my non-scariness, presumably, she leaned over and asked me, "Do you speak English?"
"Yes, it's my first language," I answered.
This was information overload. Her jaw dropped and she stared at me for a few seconds before retreating to discuss the revelation with Milena. Then she leaned over again:
"Do you speak French?"
"No, I never studied French."
Further stares, consultation, and: "What languages do you speak?"
"Well, I speak English and Spanish, and I studied Japanese for a few years a long time ago, but I can only remember a few words."
"Tell me some words in Japanese!"
"Oh. Well, there's neko, that means cat." Awed silence. Unsure of what to do next, I dug around in my memory basket and came up with a few more. "Er, there's Wakarimasen, that means I don't understand. .... uh, hai means yes. Iie means no."
Seriously she was like a frozen computer with the open-mouthed staring. Little kids are so cool.
Latin Americans are always really happy to hear that I'm from California. (Tip to travelers: you're Californian, not American.) They always want to know what part I'm from, but, when told "Sacramento," answer with polite nods. "I know that's an important place," the nods say, "but I don't really know why, much less where it is." So I've begun to amend this answer to "Near San Francisco," which is much more happily received. It appears that, aside from LA, every Latin American has family in San Francisco! Who would've guessed?