Old toilet times

johnTHIS IS THE upstairs john. The walls are ceramic tiles and look like a checkerboard. They are black and white, one of my favorite themes. The john is British racing green, and the seat is wooden.

What is notable here sits on the little table. Two books. One is 501 Spanish Verbs and the other is The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice (For intermediate and advanced learners).

Those two tomes have lived right there in that very spot for 12 years, which is to say since we built and moved into the Hacienda in 2003. Twelve years back, my Spanish needed work. It could still use some but not nearly as much as before. I almost never speak English now.

And I rarely thumb through those books anymore either while I’m, well, you know, sitting there. But there they remain. I’ve had reading material by the johnny most of my life. Unfortunately, nowadays, I have no magazines to put there because I no longer subscribe to magazines.

And I have no book to leave there because all my books are on a Kindle, which does not live in the bathroom. It travels with me.

Times change, but habits are hard to break. So these two Spanish textbooks stay put, and I imagine they will be there on the day I die.

22 thoughts on “Old toilet times

  1. That 501 Spanish Verbs came in very handy for me many times, though now I tend to go to WordRef online for help. I’m not sure I’ll ever get a handle on Subjunctivo and Condicional, though I haven’t given up trying. Marrying a Mexican was a good strategy for you, the ultimate immersion.


    1. Bliss: I thumb through the 501 Verbs book now and find that I already know them 95 percent of the time, which is good. It’s a great book. The subjunctive does not bother me much anymore in spite of its bad rep with English speakers. The conditional throws me more because it’s often used in Spanish when it’s not in English, or maybe it’s the other way around.

      Yes, marrying Mexican was a wise move and not just for a live-in language tutor.


    1. Ms. Shoes: The Kindle has magazines, but I currently only subscribe to one, a quarterly. Of course, paper books and magazines are not things our Mama Earth wants us to mess with anymore. We must move on, and I have done so.


  2. We have those two books but on a bookshelf in the living area.

    We’ve got two young grandsons who will be starting “real” school next fall term and I saw in their curriculum that Spanish is in the mix which pleased me to no end. One kid is in the Boston ‘burbs, the other in Houston. The Houston boy speaks German. He was born in Berlin and his parents both speak German so as a little kid he was immersed in German by default. He is, of course, German and English bilingual. His other grandparents live in Bonn and they don’t speak any English at all. So, all this to say, we are multi-lingual.


    1. Carole: An eternal mystery to me is how one learns three languages. In my crusty, decrepit mind, I only imagine the possibility of two languages. They are your native tongue and the “foreign” language. Learning a third seems incomprehensible. How does one keep from confusing one “foreign” language with another. I don’t see it. I guess the young can do that.


      1. It’s astonishing to me that some (a few) words in German are the same, pronunciation wise, as Spanish. Taza and tasse mean cup, for instance.


  3. In Europe it is common for people to know three or more languages. In Luxembourg, for example, it is a requirement to learn French, German and English in school. I learned German 50 years ago, and when I try to think of a word in Spanish, I often have the German word pop into my mind first. There is no doubt the best way to learn Spanish is to live with an English deficient Mexican.


    1. Andrés: So you illustrate nicely what I see as the three-language problem. Thankfully, for me, it will never be an issue because Spanish is as far as I go.


      1. Over the years you have mastered the Spanish language, thus you would have no problem to learn a third or fourth language. Every language someone learns makes it easier to learn another.


  4. Nothing better than immersion. Americans have been short-changed by not having to learn at least two languages. Another generation or two California will be speaking Spanish anyway.

    The only difficulty I have is picking up some of the slang, like “crudo,” until one morning after a party it was explained to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tancho: If I have one gaping hole, it is slang and colloquialisms. I just can’t seem to work up the interest. As for California, I did not think anybody at all still speaks English there. I think even Barry needs a translator when he visits the Golden State. I could be wrong, of course.


  5. Sadly, you are one of the *very* few gringos SOB who have a decent or better command of the language. I’m constantly amazed at little comments dropped into blogs by longtime Mexico residents which show that said resident/blogger barely knows more than how to order coffee at a restaurant.

    I don’t think it’s that hard to learn another language. After all, every language has its dolts and idiots, yet they mostly speak with ease and correctly, though what they say is another matter. But language acquisition does require persistence and stamina. Yet everyone has the capability; it’s just a question of doing the work.

    In my case, I’m constantly thinking, OK, I’m pretty fluent now, and then I go on to learn more. I’ve been listening to much of the same Mexican music for quite a while now, and even today, I picked up new words and meanings in the lyrics.

    I used to think that fluency was a destination, but it’s really more of a process. If you keep at it, you just keep learning more and more. The trick is to keep at it.

    I salute your persistence. I’d say you speak Spanish excellently.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where from time to time we think of studying Vietnamese.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kim: As you know, your Spanish is quite good. You work at it. I worked at it at first, but I don’t much anymore. It comes out pretty well.

      I have no idea how many Gringo retirees down here can actually carry on a conversation in Spanish. I would bet that it’s a relatively small percentage. They have other priorities. That and the fact that they socialize with other Gringos almost exclusively. I don’t think there is much in the way of cross-over friendships. The cultural divide is humongous. There is little common ground. That puts up a high barrier.

      But speaking Spanish here changes your world significantly.


  6. When we were kids, teachers hit kids for speaking in any language other than English. The Indian kids had it the worst. The education system was bound and determined to wipe out other languages. Then when we went to high school and the university, they tried to teach us the same languages that they tried so hard to wipe out.

    Speaking Spanish was between friends and family. It was a mark of confidence to communicate in Spanish. All other was in English. This produced a sort of schizo society.

    Because Spanish was learned verbally only, a lot of words were mangled. Other words were created or accepted from other languages. It resulted in a mishmash.


    1. Señor Gill: And now teachers strike kids for speaking English. Or maybe they would just like to, but it hasn’t reached that point just yet.

      If the U.S. continues down its current path, the signs of a schizo society will multiply.


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