R, hubby: Hey, viejita*…
Me, pissed: WHAA–??? #%&#!!!
Times like these, I have to breathe. Times like these, I have to hold myself back from making my shoe fly across the room in the general direction of his head. Times like these, I remember that Spanish endearments are…interesting. And not a little insulting.
Though I can’t make too many generalizations (my Hispanic experience is not all-encompassing, after all- just a childhood in Spain, years in South America, and marriage to a Latino), one of the shockers in this cross-cultural existence of mine is the endearments tossed casually my way by my l-l-l-latin l-l-l-lover.
The language of love is supposed to be murmured delicacies, whispered phrases of tender, passionate emotionalism. Ricky Ricardo, Enrique Iglesias, and Antonio Banderas. A guitar strumming of tongue movements. The red-tinged exhilaration of the bullfight tempered by the lazy Spanish sun.
Yeeeeeeah- not so much.
Spanish-language endearments are shockingly personal. Try “gordita”- little fat lady. Or “negrita”- little blackie. “Culona”- big-butt.
Feelin the love yet??
Peruvians are really good at this. A friend of mine and I were living at the beach in Peru, after homestays in two different cities. My friend’s host family came to visit her, and the first words out of the host father’s mouth were, “Oh my GOD, Anna- you’re SO FAT!! What have you been EATING???”- while his family chuckled and nodded in agreement. A Peruvian friend, Rosa, saw my wedding pictures and commented, “I want to know what you’ve been EATING. You’re HUGE!”
Many nickames in Spanish have this highly personal connection to the physical. A good friend of my husband’s is called “the grandfather” because he’s slightly older. My friend Miguel is called “Chato”- short guy- because, well- he is. Anyone with darker skin, even if they’re not of African descent, is “negrito” or “negrita”- blackie.
I don’t have enough colloquial knowledge of French to draw any conclusions, but I wonder if these terms of endearment are similar in other languages.
And I am a year older than my Colombian hubby. So there’s a logical reason for “viejita”. But even knowing that, and knowing his intentions to be pure, expressed in love…
…I’m still examining those crow’s feet a little closer today.
* loosely translated: little old lady