“I Brush My Hair With A Cheap Penis”

Recently, I was reading Young Adventuress’ Expat Files featuring Gee Cassandra and I  loved the funny story of her “Salgo en pelotas” mishap.

We all know by now that the Spanish language is always good for a few laughs and therefore, I thought I should take a moment to admit my own Spanish language screw ups. It should be said that my level of Spanish is not so bad after all these years, but there are a few things that still get me in trouble. I just have to find other words to use instead of those that give me problems because I’ve found myself red faced with embarrassment more than once.

Peine vs Pene

A pene is a penis, a peine is a comb. Contrary to popular belief, I do not often find myself in a position where I have to say “penis”. This is a good thing because the word is very similar to the Spanish word for comb and I cannot distinguish between the two pronunciations at all without painfully straining to forcibly pronounce that damn “i” in the middle. But yeah, every time I want to say “comb”, I end up saying “penis” which has been responsible for some terribly awkward conversations in the peluqueria. (See Title of Post)

Cajones vs. Cojones

Cajones are drawers and cojones are testicles. Again, I must have some unconscious phallic twist-up in my guiri brain, because I also get these two words mixed up when speaking them. I know the difference between the two pronunciations and I can pronounce them both just fine, but when I want to say one word, the other one inevitably comes flying out of my mouth. Picture this:

An old Spanish man comes to install the handles on our new book case, which has four drawers or cajones. He asks me which handles do we want installed on the drawers, and I respond by telling him whichever ones match the handles of the other furniture we already have. We choose the right design and then I bid my farewell with this little doozy: “Okay, well, I’ll just leave you to screw in these little handles on your balls. Gracias.”

Nice, huh?

What about you guys? Any words that you refuse to use because you just can’t get them out correctly?

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9 Responses to “I Brush My Hair With A Cheap Penis”

  1. I refuse to say comb, because I spent a year with high schoolers, and I was not going to make that mistake! There are no other ones I refuse to say, but I’m always afraid of saying polla instead of pollo.

    • Hamatha says:

      Man, I can’t imagine teaching Spanish high schoolers and coming out alive. I once had a class of adults who, one day, were so excited to tell me that they were going to the DYK factory and I had no idea that DYK was a whiskey so I was dying laughing for 10 minutes before I could tell them why I was laughing so hard. Then, of course, I had to explain the joke to them which they didn’t get until I actually drew a dick on the whiteboard. Very, very uncomfortable. :)

  2. Ade says:

    As part of a lovely “sobre mesa” friends asked me if there was a particular food that I wanted when I had a tough day; did I have a “comfort food”??

    My “go to” wish for comfort food is a variation on baked ziti with tons of toasted parmesan cheese and slices of fuet covering the pasta and the sauce that my boyfriend Mike makes for me. Since ziti is a bit rare as a pasta, he often makes it with penne. So I replied with total sincerity that after a rough day, my favourite thing was “Mike’s Penne”. I think they are still laughing…..

  3. Cassandra says:

    I hear ya on avoiding “peine” whenever possible–my mouth can’t seem to form the correct word, either!

    Another problem I have is porra vs. porro. As in, “I’ll take a joint with my hot chocolate!”

  4. Christine says:

    LOL. So glad I’m not alone! I have the same hang-up. Will NOT say that word. Not happening.

  5. Rachel says:

    cojines = cushions, cajones = as above. Telling someone that I wanted a room filled with testicles was just one of my more embarrassing moments in Spain …

  6. Diane says:

    Love that I’m not the only one who’s had an awkward expat experience!!

  7. Holly Nettles says:

    OMGosh! Nearly spit my coffee onto my laptop while reading this blog. I thought I was the only person on the planet who had made this mistake. When I lived in Rota, Spain, in 89-92, back when the big, black Goody combs were popular, I went into a drugstore, couldn’t find one, so asked the sales girl about “big, black penises”. She laughed, and took me right to the combs, where I found what I wanted. My neighbor later told me my mistake (I asked her whenever somebody laughed, or looked at me strangely.)

    I also said to a cab driver once; “Soy caliente!”, when I actually meant; “Hace calor!”. Oh, the fun of learning a new language like a baby. :)

    Holly :)

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