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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

KS - Spanish girls

The next out of order event from my military keepsakes was from a letter dated 6 June 1961. This was when president JFK came to NATO Headquarters (SHAPE) to check the place out and meet with some dignitaries. I happened not to be working that day and got to see him – about 30 feet away. He gave a somewhat short speech – mainly because it was raining and most politicians don’t like to be thought of as “all wet”.

A letter from 13 November 1961 told that I met a girl from Spain who was working for a family near our camp. How I came to meet her was when a group of Spanish girls came to a social event at our small imitation USO club. One of the girls spoke enough English to chat a little – as well as some French. When I tried to impress her with my French, she wound up hilariously amused. What I had tried to tell her was that I had been having some trouble with my stomach – it came out that I was having trouble with my female body parts.

When she was able to stop laughing long enough, she corrected my French to another word that was not so feminine specific. She was kind enough to introduce me to one of her friends that was interested in going out with me. The problem was that her friend spoke no French – in which I got along fairly well, most of the time – or English, at which I was somewhat fluent. She spoke only Spanish and I had no knowledge of that tongue.

As most of you know, communication is very important in any kind of relationship, especially one of a romantic nature. Two very frustrating, linguistically challenged dates later we decided it was not meant to be. In fact, I’m not quite sure why she went out with me the second time. Basically I spoke only ME and she spoke only HER – and never the twain shall meet.

Back to the language issues – even though my knowledge of French was limited, I could understand much more than I could speak correctly. The British guys that I worked with on a daily basis would be quick to tell me that I didn’t speak English very well either. They said what I spoke was American, another language altogether. We always got along well but teased a lot, all in good fun.

A letter of 9 January 1962 told of a homesick young man that wrote of being sorry he hadn’t been able to come home for Christmas. It seems that I wasn’t allowed out of the country until the legal parts of the previously mentioned auto accident was settled. Besides this, it would have been a logistical nightmare trying to put transportation together to get home and also would have been tough emotionally to have to go back to France afterwards. It noted as well that I had only 7 months more in the Army – 195 days left.

TBC – ec


Blogger itsboopchile said...

It must be fun for you to go over old letters. Finding things you have probably forgotten.
Now what will you do with them? Don't be surprised if someday someone in your family, will write a book, publishing your letters.
I wonder what life will be like in that future time.

See you, Betty G

4/18/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Ah! When two people speak different languages, communicating can be, uh, thorny at best.

Your story reminds me of the one of an eminent American theologian who was invited to give a sermon in Germany during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth. He considered himself well versed in the German language and wrote his entire sermon in German.

During the presentation he noticed a few grins and even some chuckles at inappropriate times among the younger members of the audience. After the services was over, most of the people leaving the church told me (as most always do) “good sermon.” Except one elderly woman who said (in English): “I do not know what word you meant to use, by four time you referred to the paper people use to wipe their arse after they take a shit.”

4/18/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

boopchile - There were some good memories and some bad ones that I didn't care to drag up. Those future times on earth are a bit of a puzzle to me as well.

SSN - Communication is hard enough, but miscommunication is even worse and that can happen even when people speak the same language. Because even when they speak the same language, they may not be speaking the same language. :) ec

4/19/2006 12:27:00 PM  

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