I know the title sounds odd, but worry not, this is not what you think it is about. Cue major disappoint about not sharing sex stories. It’s about language. I was busy writing a post about the subject about the subject, but an episode today made me bring the post forward and instead of writing one long post, I decided to write several shorter posts this being the first in the series. Enjoy!
As most of you know, I’m South African by birth and Portuguese by heritage. Even though Portuguese was never our first language at home, I’ve always spoken it relatively well. Why? Well, I love languages. I learnt how to read Portuguese by reading the newspaper for Portuguese immigrants in South Africa, called O Século. A summer internship in Madeira improved my Portuguese vastly, especially in terms of technical engineering terms. However, it was the last three years of working with a Brazilian company where my Portuguese has really reached another level, even though it is slightly (understatement) Brazilianized.
Even though I speak Portuguese with Raquel and it’s improved even more, I do have two major problems. I’ve never really had any formal education in Portuguese which leaves my writing below par. Secondly, I’m completely oblivious to Portuguese slang and expressions, which has left me slightly bemused more times I can remember. Though today, I had an interesting episode that could have put in me a particularly sticky situation, but lucky for Raquel knows my limitations with Portuguese.
Today Raquel asked me what I was going to do and I simply replied “I’m going to buy biltong and watch movies in my underwear”. She laughed as she knows it’s likely to be true. So just before leaving work, I went out and got the biltong. As I was driving back to the office I sent Raquel a message in Portuguese saying “Ja comprei o biltong. Agora so falta as quecas e o filme” which (I thought) meant “I’ve bought the biltong. Now all I need is the underwear and movie”.
Half an hour later I had Raquel phoning me, but all I could make out was hysterical laughter. I was confused and asked her why she laughing, to which replied “was that message for me?”. Duh, yes it was. “Why?” I respond to her silly question. “ Well, baby, quecas, the way you wrote is slang for sex and not underwear…”. Cue even more laughter, I can even hear her housemate laughing in the background. It seems that underwear in Portuguese is cuecas and not quecas… DAMN YOU Q! DAMN YOU!
It was at that moment I remembered the form I fill out for my laundry… I always write that I want my underwear washed, or that’s what I thought I wrote… I was actually I asking for my sex to be washed. Three times a week. For six months. I think the name Tonito must prompt uncontrollable giggles in that laundrette. “Hey clean sex guy has more laundry this week!”
Lesson of the day: Make sure you know what you are writing in another language.