News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, JUlY 17, 2005
TOM WRIGHT | COLUMNISTS | HOME | FORUMS | ARCHIVES

TOM WRIGHT

Little bit of Spanish is dangerous

Still up for debate in our clan is what I said in Spanish that got us a tent filled with Mexican beach goers who spoke no English.

I thought I said something like "es caliente," as they stood in the shade outside the tent that protected us from the July sun at mid-day.

The group, three women, a man and five young people, stopped to cool their feet before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean at Tybee Island near Savannah, Ga.

I understood their need.

All but two women dashed for the ocean, while they continued standing, making me self-conscious. So I commented on the weather in those now infamous words.

"Si," one said, as they entered the tent and continued to stand as our daughter Mary Grace, her husband Kirk, 1-year-old granddaughter Ruby Gray and I watched.

That's when I asked Mary Grace the word for chair. She replied, and the two women sat in extra beach chairs in the tent. Then, the guy returned.

I watched as my youngest daughter hit the surf to report the invasion to her mother who was with our other daughter Lynn and the three grandchildren playing in the ocean.

Meanwhile, both women said something to me in Spanish and smiled.

"Kirk, you're in charge here," I said, and headed for the water.

"What are you going to do, Dad?" our adult daughters demanded to know as the Atlantic licked our legs one hour later.

"Kirk and I will take down the tent," I said, appearing to be in control.

Mary Grace said she had a better idea and headed to the tent. By then five Mexicans were inside, three of them standing.

"That does it," I told Regina, "I'm going to tell them to 'vamos.' "

"That means, 'We go,' " she replied. "We're supposed to be the ones who stay."

Attempting to work out the proper tense of the verb "go" made me wish I'd stuck with Liz Cheatham's Spanish classes.

I decided on "por favor leave," but didn't need Spanglish.

They left, nodding and smiling, as I approached the tent.

"I got them to leave Dad," Mary Grace said.

She claims to have said that her parents were senior citizens and needed the seats in the tent.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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