Language barrier


Back of the Yards, Chicago, Illinois.

When I was growing up, my parents always spoke Spanish at home. Once I began attending school, I was supposed to speak English at home. This way my parents would be forced to learn to speak English. This was a good idea in theory, but the reality resulted in bilingual conversations in which I would speak English and my parents would speak Spanish. To this day, I still speak to my father in English; whenever I speak to him in Spanish and he doesn’t understand me.

One day, my mother sent me to the store to buy pork chops. She specifically told me to buy pork chops, but she told me in Spanish. As I’m walking to the store, I realize that I don’t remember how to say pork chops in English. I kept trying to remember as I walked to the store. Luckily, there were two customers ahead of me. That gave me more time to think about what I had to buy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the English name for pork chops. The best I could come up with was “pig chops.” But I was too embarrassed to ask for “pig chops” because I knew that wasn’t the right term. So I walked home empty-handed and my mother asked me why I didn’t buy the pork chops. When I told her what happened, she said that I should have asked for “pig chops.” She didn’t know the English word for pork chops, either.

That night, we ate chicken.

My father and I


David Diego and José Diego Rodríguez

One day, I realized that I had become my father and had married my mother. Not literally, of course. Once, when I was at the show with my sons, I fell asleep during the movie. My oldest son woke me up, but I told him that I wasn’t sleeping. So he asked, “Then what was the movie about?” And I didn’t know. So he updated me on the movie.

But I had to ask myself, “What was this movie REALLY about?” Well, the truth is that I realized that I had become my father, who used to take us to the show and then fall asleep. The poor man worked the night shift, slept a few hours, and then would take us out to the movies on Saturdays without our mother. I have now become my father when I take my sons to the show, and fall asleep at the show. But we all enjoy going to the show together! I was happy to go the show with my father even if he did fall asleep. Otherwise, I would have missed a lot of good movies. My sons are happy going to the show, too, and they never complain if I fall asleep.

As a child, my father always took us to the circus every year. When I had children, I began taking my sons to the circus. The last few years, I have been going to the circus with my sons and my father, who is now 81 years old. On the last trip to the circus with my father, I told my sons, “See how I take my father to the circus? When I get that old, I want you to take me to the circus with your children!”

Well, it turns out that I did, indeed, become my father and marry my mother. But then I divorced her, just as my father did. Like father, like son. The candy doesn’t fall far from the piñata!

Have I really become my father? ¡No me digas!