Once when I was I boy, I visited Mexico and I realized that I wasn’t Mexican. I was American! All my Mexican cousins told me so. I didn’t speak Spanish as well as them. My Spanish vocabulary was lacking compared to them. I always had to stop to think in order put my thoughts into Spanish. Even though I spoke Spanish with my family and friends in Chicago, I had lost what little Spanish I had and I never improved my Spanish vocabulary by constantly speaking Spanish with Mexicans from Mexico. Well, some of the children made fun of how I spoke Spanish and called me gringo.
Well, one day, I noticed that my aunt had various copies of Life Magazine in her house. I immediately recognized the Life logo, white letters in a red block. I was so excited because now I would be able to read something in English! But upon picking up the magazine and flipping through the pages, I realized that the magazine was published in Spanish. One of my cousins asked me what I was reading and I told him, “Life,” but I pronounced “Life” in English. He asked me to repeat it, and when I did, he said that I didn’t know Spanish because I didn’t call the magazine, “Li-fe,” pronounced in Spanish as two syllables. I explained that “Life” is an English word and so I pronounced it in proper English as a one-syllable word, with a silent e. Of course, he didn’t believe me. I was still el gringo who couldn’t speak Spanish. Not only that! I also couldn’t speak English! He called my other cousins over and told them about how I had my own peculiar way of pronouncing “Li-fe.” Well, after that, they constantly quizzed me about the pronounciation of “Li-fe.” Remember, “Life” in Mexico is “LI-FE” with two syllables!!