So at the ripe old age of almost 30, I decided to move to Madrid, Spain. Almost 6 years later, it seems as if I’ve managed to carve out quite a good life for myself here. I’m happily married and I love Madrid, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t find some knots in the string here and there. For one, the language. A sound once so beautiful to my ears is now just a thorn in my ham-enhanced side.
The truth is that I’ve studied Spanish for quite some time now and if you don’t speak it well, you’d probably think I’m pretty fluent. I can get by okay. I can even make some jokes here and there. But you know what? After 6 years of living here, I still get massively tongue-twisted and I can get super nervous when confronted with “the face”.
What’s “the face”, you ask? Well, it’s that smushy, wrinkled-brow face that just refuses to understand you. This look is very natural for Spaniards. I know, because my husband is Spanish, but he does not have “the face”. He has more of a “brows-up, sweet-brown- eyed, ready-to-listen-with-all-his-heart face”.
“The face” isn’t native to bad or impatient people necessarily. Even family (in-laws) can be overcome with a case of “the face” even after years of knowing you. This is the essence of Pass the Ham.
Although “the face” can pop up anywhere, the face usually shows itself at the dinner table. After the hundreds of required besos and the que tal‘s, I realize that the person, cousin, aunt, uncle, in-law I’m talking to doesn’t quite “get” what I’m saying. It does take a while, and bless their sweet hearts, they are trying to understand me, but they almost always come down with “the face”; it’s usually full-on and full-force within 5 minutes of talking to each other.
So, how can one combat “the face”, you ask? I really don’t want to be rude and just stop talking to anyone. So I have developed a plan that gently ends the conversation without the abruptness of saying, “You just dont freakin’ understand what I’m saying, do you?”. So, mid- converstation, I say, “Could you pass the ham, please?” It works everytime. I manage to interrupt myself with a ham request and, subsequently, give them a pass so they can relax a bit. A distraction for them and a relief for me. I kind of hate to share it with you, but maybe if I help just one foreigner in the same situation, my work will be worth it
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – Hamatha, you’re pure genius!
Anyway, this blog is my story. Basically, it’s a two parter – the past and the present – so I hope its not too confusing to follow. But if you do get a little confused … well, welcome to my world.