A Little Spanish Is a Dangerous Thing
Tonight I went with a group of writing program students to the Museo Nacional de Bella Artes. During the course of my thoughtful perambulations around the exhibit rooms, I ended up talking to one of the museum guards, who had already spoken to other members of the group and knew we were all from the U.S. He asked me a few polite questions, in Spanish, about my visit to Argentina, and I gamely tried to answer with more than just "yes" or "no". The problem came when I attempted to ask him how long he'd worked at the museum. Apparently that's not what I actually said, because he answered that he got off at 8:30 and that if I wanted he'd walk around with me afterward.
The conversation from that point only got more difficult, as at first I thought he was asking me to invite him to join our whole group. But no, it turns out that's not what he meant. And then he asked if I had a free day and I, bizarrely, answered that yes, it was possible I'd come back another day. I even asked if he worked every day til 8:30. Why? Probably because I knew how, and in spite of my good sense I was going to deploy the tiny bit of Spanish I knew at any cost.
Including the cost of never again going to the Museo Nacional de Bella Artes. Sigh...