Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shit! Sheet!

I get hit up to buy stuff all the time. Glasses of fruit-flavored water off carts in the street. Cups of arroz con leche out of a basket on a woman's head on the sidewalk. Chopped-up cactus from little old ladies. Plastic plug-in crucifixes with flashing lights from corner shops. Couches, refrigerators, doorknobs and you-name-it out of the backs of trucks.

"Hey güera! Do you want to buy [insert name of product I don't have any use for]?"

Usually these sales pitches come from strangers, most often when I'm walking down the street, going to or coming from work. So I was surprised when a student stopped by my office to hit me up at work last week.

Scratch that. It wasn't the location that threw me. It was the language. Here's what I heard as the student stepped through my office door:

"Hi teacher! Do you want to buy a shit?"

Potty mouth. Now obviously, the student was NOT selling feces. But his unique sales pitch certainly caught my attention. I wasn't quite sure how to reply:

"Ummm, are you sure you're selling shit?"

He turned red. Our students here at the university usually don't speak a lot of English before they come to study with us, but by the time they're ready to graduate, they know enough to be dangerous -- enough to know that "shit" is on the list of words that you don't use with your professors.

"No?" He meekly showed me his wares: pictures of sheets and blankets that his mom had sewn.

Now, it's full-on summertime here. Well into the nineties (F) in the morning. The last thing I wanted to buy was more things to sweat through on my bed. But I didn't turn the student away. I needed to make sure that he didn't pitch shit to his next potential customer. So I shut my door, ready to get down to business.

"Look at my mouth. Listen and look at how I say these words."

The good teacher that I am, I carefully pronounced 'shit' and 'sheet' for him a few times. He got the idea. He packed up his pictures, thanked me, and left my office.

I could hear him walking down the hall with his friend, who had been waiting outside my office door for him. Their words bounced off of our building's concrete walls. They were practicing their vocabulary.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Shit.

Sheeeeeeeeeet. Sheeeeeeet. Sheet.



Funny as shit, eh?