08 October 2015

Words Fail Me: Batshit Loco

When you learn a foreign language later in life *ahem*, words that sound similar can mess you up and make you sound like an idiot. When I lived in Hungary, I was constantly mixing up szőnyeg (carpet, rug) and szúnyog (mosquito). I would say dumb, but apparently amusing things like, "Urgh, these carpets keep biting me!" or "Take that mosquito out and shake it."

And you guys already know about my little mix up with preservantes and preservativos. But let's not dwell on that.

One time the esposo and I were down south, visiting one of my cuñados (really, it's so much easier than "brothers-in-law") and his family.  I love it there. They have a nice little porch where we hang out in hammocks with ice-cold beer of an evening. Ice cold because they literally put ice in the beer here. Not even kidding. I drink mine gringo style, no ice, because I don't like to water my beer. Just put that bad boy in the freezer for a bit.  Guys, I cannot express how much I'm loving the heat after the Seattle years. Where we live, in the Central Valley, it's actually not that hot. It's hot at my cuñado's house. You sweat. You take cold showers. You sleep in your skivvies with the fan on high, and kick off the sheet. And there is nothing like heat to make you appreciate the qualities of an ice-cold beer. Even estilo gringo, without the ice.

Hammock, beer, banana trees, good company ... what more do you need?

So after a long day of eating, relaxing, and drinking, we were all out on the porch for more drinking and relaxing. We'd just made our way back up from the river, where we'd gone to watch the sun set, commune with the neighbor's cattle, and get attacked by some pissed-off army ants after stepping on their anthill in flip-flops. Okay, that last part was only me, but whatever. It was a beautiful night.

So we're relaxing and sipping, watching the moon rise, when I notice something zipping back and forth overhead. A whole lot of somethings. Silent somethings. No cheerful birdsong or, in the case of parrots, obnoxious grawking. These were no feathered friends.

They were bats.

bats, lying in wait on the side of a tree
Now these were early days, my first year, back before that weird little tree in the farmer's squash field on the corner had bloomed with its seasonal batnip. I still don't know whether it was flowers or fruit that drew them, but that tree sang some kind of siren song that only those bats with their damned echolocation could hear. It was like crystal meth to a junkie. McDonald's to a gringo. You always hear about how bats don't bother people, how our fear of them is irrational, how they've gotten a bad rap. I believed all of that.

Until the little tree let loose its crack blossoms.

Those bats became territorial. Taking my dog, Batman (no relation), for his nightly constitutional was like running the gauntlet through a cloud of winged Cujos. In fact, wasn't it actually a bat that gave Cujo rabies in the first place? Poor Cujo probably lived near one of these trees. Those suckers actually dive-bombed me. They didn't give two shits about mosquitos, they were on the attack. Even Batman was a little spooked by his vespertilionine brethren, and he was a calm dog. I took to wearing a sweatshirt with the hood tied tight. After that first season, someone cut down the little tree before it bloomed again. I guess I wasn't the only bat bait out there. I was enormously relieved but also a little sad, because every once in a while, when the tree wasn't in bloom, an owl would perch there, watching me and Batman as we walked by, and I didn't see him anymore after that.

But back to our story, which takes place before the little tree bloomed and I learned what evil lurked in the hearts of bats. So I'm on the porch, soaking up the delicious heat, enjoying my cold beer in the moonlight, listening to the conversation from my hammock. An idyllic night if ever there were one. Wanting to make use of the animal vocabulary I'd just learned in my handy book, 6,000+ Essential Spanish Words, I nonchalantly say,

Look, bats!

Everyone stops talking to look at me. I helpfully point up at the sky, illustrating my keen observation.

A beat. Then everyone bursts out laughing. Great. I know what that means.

What did I say? 

They all chimed in, laughing their asses off, practically choking on their ice:

Look, womanizers!

Typical. Turns out the vocabulary book said murciélago ... not mujeriego.

cuñado - brother-in-law  (koon-YAHD-oh)
cuñada - sister-in-law  (koon-YAHD-ah)
murciélago - bat: mammal,  not baseball.  (moor-see-AY-lah-goh)
mujeriego - womanizer  (moo-hayr-YAY-goh)


  1. Beer with ice, umm no. Bats are not nice. Steve actually put a bat house up on our pole building...not that they ever inhabited it. So, it turns out that the English language isn't the only one that is perplexing, or joke worthy. My ex mother-in-law used to speak in English and Spanish and strangely enough, while I have no aptitude for languages (I can barely speak the one I do know) I always completely understood everything she said. After I somehow manage to visit Omaha I want to visit you.

    1. I like that they eat the bugs, but they need to keep their freaking distance. Bats tangled in hair are the stuff of nightmares. Also, as Bob Barker would say, come on down!

  2. Replies
    1. It's a regular snort fest around here.

  3. An honest mistake... no I'm not laughing at you..... really... I'm laughing with you... nah I'm laughing at you! Snort....

  4. Well, this post did nothing to qualm my fear/hatred for rodents. I also believed that while disgusting to look at, they were harmless aside from their toxic shit. Not so harmless now.

    It is funny that there's even a spanish word for womanizer, guess I always assumed that particularly level of jackassery was purely an american thing. Still, if they have to exist, I suppose it's a good thing they can't fly.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, the bats act pretty normal since the little crack tree got axed. I seriously do not know what kind of leaves/blossoms/flowers/fruit was making them crazy; I just call it batnip. They've been fine the last three years ... it's just that now the fear is there. I know they MIGHT go loco at any moment. Also, the fact that there are vampire bats in CR doesn't help. Not that I've ever seen one. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

      Oh, and that womanizing thing? Pfft, it's practically an art form here. 'Murka doesn't have a corner on that market.


I've got a fever ...