This story unfolds in a laundromat about 35 years ago. The text revolves around a girl named Brenda, her best friend, Lilia, and Lilia’s mother. Brenda is naive and curious. She wanted to learn how to talk in Spanish. The problem was that she thought she figured out how to say something new on Spanish, but she said it wrong. She overcame this by taking Spanish lessons. Readers learn that it is challenging to learn a second language and that it is ok to make mistakes.
It was a late Saturday afternoon when I went with Lilia and her mom to the laundromat. Over the past few months I had been learning Spanish with Lilia and her mother.
Of course I wanted to spend time with my best friend and the best thing a best friend would do is help her and her mother fold the clothes. I love folding towels.
On this day I found out the hard way that Lilia’s mom likes the towels folded differently than my family when I said the wrong thing to her mother.
“Así no,” her mother told me, as I made the last fold into thirds, showing me she wanted the last fold in half.
I felt so embarrassed so I told her, “Estoy embarazada.”
Puzzled, her mother turned to look at me. Lilia paused then laughed. Laughed real hard. Now, I was puzzled.
What did I do wrong? I knew that ‘estoy’ means ‘I am’ and I thought ’embarazada’ would mean embarrassed. Why not? I thought that any word in English could be said in Spanish if I added the letter A or O on the end.
“You just told my mom that you are pregnant!”
Every weekend from that late Saturday forward, Lilia wanted to spend time with her best friend, of course. And the best thing a best friend would do is teach her friend Spanish. And laugh when she said it all wrong.