Meeting your in-laws is always a big deal and making a good first impression is extremely important and can define the relationship for its duration. That’s why when I met Raquel’s family I was even more polite than my usual self and more importantly I tried not to involuntarily distribute any curse or rude words in front of them.
This might seem like an odd thing as most people would not be cursing randomly, but considering I had spent two years on Brazilian construction sites, saying things like “good f*cking morning!”,“sh*tting drawing” and “c*cking schedule” becomes very normal (all in Portuguese), so much so, that when Raquel and I started dating she thought I sounded rather gruff.
Despite the involuntary cursing coming down substantially under Raquel’s tutelage, I was always wary when speaking to Portuguese people and very conscious about not letting a curse word slip stealthily slip into a conversation.
Already on the back foot with my “builder’s” Portuguese, I met Raquel’s parents and throughout the weekend my internal curse blocker was working overtime in order not to destroy the initial good impression I was making (I know, who can’t love me?? Don’t answer that!).
My curse blocker was doing an awesome job, but Portuguese is and will remain a second language to me and the further in a day we get, my brain starts making very silly grammatical errors which in most case do no harm. Unfortunately this error falls outside of the ambit of most cases…
As we were sitting around the dinner table finishing up desert and I had just remembered that my mouse’s batteries had run out, so I thought I might as well ask if my in-laws had spare batteries they could lend me.
“Does anyone have spare batteries? I need batteries.” (In Portuguese)
As soon as I finished the sentence, Raquel’s brothers (18 and 16) burst into uncontrolled laughter while everyone else just looked at me without unbridled curiosity… My brain immediately reviewed the sentence to make sure no curse words wriggled its way into the phrase, but my brain’s quality assurance confirmed that nothing out of the order was released.
Raquel, who was sitting next to me, leaned over and told me I had mispronounced the word for battery. Okay, but how that mispronunciation could induce so much laughter was beyond me… Until Raquel smilingly tells me that instead of batteries, I was asking for penises…
Yes my friends, I inadvertently asked my wife’s family on the weekend I met them whether they had penises for me. Great first impression!
Now, it is an easy mistake to make as the word for battery is “pilha” and the slang for penis is “pila” and my in-laws realised that it was a mispronunciation and I did not lose any “potential son-in-law” points, but Raquel’s brothers still give me a ribbing about my unfortunate error.