My neighbors to the south had a party on Monday night to celebrate spring break and the first really warm night of 2006. I got home around 9 and there were lots of little kids swarming around in the front yard next door and a few grownups settled around the card table with the remains of dinner on it.
"Sorry. We ate already," Herman from the second floor told me. I was sorry to miss the food but I wasn't hungry.
While we were chatting, Tony from Logan Square came by. "You're hard to find," he told me.
"Looking for work?" I asked.
"Looking for my girlfriend," he teased me. But he was willing to settle for a job. He cleaned out my backyard and along the sidewalk.
Alicia and Santiago on the first floor have a passel of kids--I can't always remember how many they have, let alone all their names. There are at least four, maybe even five or six. But little Luis remembers me and so does his big sister. It's bugging me that I can't remember her name. They took me out back to play catch. Luis's big brother (whose name I also forgot) wanted to sing songs for me. He learned a song about English vowels in school that was very good. I should make him teach me it.
His sister taught me a sing and clap game in Spanish and I taught her "Miss Mary Mack" in English. Of course I have totally forgotten the Spanish one. She'll have to play it with me about a hundred times before it sticks.
Then Big Sister wanted to read stories. She went in the house and found a book of stories in Spanish and English. I wondered if it was from school or if Alicia got it somewhere. We read "La Oruga Muy Hambriente" together. That's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" for those of you who have read it in English. Big Sister and I took turns reading every other page. She is a very good reader in both Spanish and English.
The grownups were pretty surprised that I could read Spanish. (I can read and pronounce it decently but frankly I don't always know what I'm saying. With "La Oruga," though, I did, between the pictures and my vague memories of reading it in English as a kid.) I heard a couple of them saying, "hey, she's pretty good!"
The funniest part was when Santiago came up to me and asked me in Spanish, "How come you talk to me in English if you know Spanish?" I answered in Spansih, "Because you always talk to me in English. If you talk to me in English, I'll talk English to you. If you talk to me in Spanish, I'll talk Spanish." We laughed.
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