THE GREAT PHONINI – The World’s Greatest Telephone Magician

THE GREAT PHONINI – The World’s Greatest Telephone Magician

Prepare to be amazed. Introducing the one, the only GREAT PHONINI, the world’s greatest telephone magician – and as far as we can tell, the ONLY one.

Prepare to be amazed. Introducing the one, the only GREAT PHONINI, the world’s greatest telephone magician – and as far as we can tell, the ONLY one.

[The telephone rings] RRRRRINNGGG! RRRRRINNGGG!   

Guy answering his phone: “Hello?”

Telephone Announcer: “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, INTRODUCING THE WORLD’S GREATEST TELEPHONE MAGICIAN. And now, for your listening amusement and AMAZEMENT, it’s the one, the only, THE GREAT PHONINI!”

Guy: “Excuse me? Who’s calling?”

The GREAT PHONINI: Thank you very much for coming. And now –

Guy: “What? I didn’t come anywhere. I’m in my living room. Is this Barney? What’s up, buddy?

PHONINI: “It’s not Barney. It is I, the GREAT PHO-NI-NI!! And you are about to hear some magical miracles like you’ve never heard before. Now, close your eyes and – “

Guy: “Um, hold on a minute. Did you just say, ‘you’re about to HEAR some magic?’ Is this Barney? You really had me going there for a minute.”

PHONINI: “Like I said, it is not Barney. It is I, the GREAT PHO-NI-NI. Imagine for a minute that you can see this gorgeous buxom blond woman standing beside me. This is my incredibly talented – and sexy – assistant, Gretchen.”

Guy: “Um, sure, Barney, I mean, All Great and Powerful Oz.”

PHONINI: “This isn’t the Wizard of Oz. I’m the GREAT PHONINI, the world’s greatest telephone magician. If you could see her, I am sure you’d agree that Gretchen is quite stunning. Gretchen, will you please enter this giant box before you?” [He pauses explaining that Gretchen needs time to get situated in the box.] “Very good. Caller, notice how I open the box and there are no hidden compartments of any kind. Now, if you will count to three… “

Guy: “Seriously? Okay. This better not be a weird sales pitch from T-Mobile. I told them four times now I am not interested in their upgrade package. Okay, ‘1, 2, 3.’ “

PHONINI: “Abracadabra! As you can hear, Gretchen is gone. Hard to believe, right?”

Guy: “You got that right. Dude, you realize we’re on the fricking phone, right? I can’t see a thing. You expect me just to believe you that she’s magically vanished? How about we switch to FACETIME so I can see?”

PHONINI: “I don’t have Facetime. My flip phone can only make audio calls. But trust me. If you could have seen what just happened, you’d be blown away. My lovely assistant is gone. But would you like me to bring her back?”

Guy: “Back? Back from where? Next to you on your couch? But what the heck. I’ll play along. Sure. Amaze me. Please, Lord, bring her back. Whatever.”

PHONINI: “I will now say the magic words: Hocus Pocus. And voila, Gretchen’s back. ‘Gretchen, did you miss me?’ She’s nodding yes.”

Guy: “Okay, who is this really? And if you really are the GREAT PHONINI, how do you expect me to believe you made Gretchen disappear. Let me guess. Gretchen is your basset hound, and you just threw her a ball to make her momentarily disappear, until she came back with the ball, Am I right?”

PHONINI: “You’ll just have to trust me. Now for my next incredible feat, listen as Gretchen ties me up in unbreakable chains and a straitjacket. ‘Now, Gretchen, make it as tight as possible, dear.’  [There is a pause and there are sounds of grunting and clanking chains in the background.] There, I’m completely tied up. And now Gretchen has attached my chains to a fifteen-foot high crane. [Grunting and breathing heavily] Now I’m upside down, [more grunts] hovering precariously over a steaming cauldron of boiling oil that is over 1,000 degrees.”

Guy: “Hmm. Let me guess. In a minute you’re going to tell me that you somehow escaped from your terrifying predicament miraculously within seconds of the crane lowering you into the boiling oil.”

[Over the phone] “And now, The GREAT PHONINI will magically turn this rabbit into a bouquet of roses. Abracadabra, Presto Chango. Would you like a rose, sir?” “Um, who are you, dude, and how did you get my number?”

[Over the phone] “And now, The GREAT PHONINI will magically turn this rabbit into a bouquet of roses. Abracadabra, Presto Chango. Would you like a rose, sir?”
“Um, who are you, dude, and how did you get my number?”

PHONINI: “How did you know? Have I called you before? Anyway, just watch, I mean listen. [Over the phone, we hear more loud grunting and clanking until finally, PHONINI coughs and then whispers in an exhausted voice.]  “Wow, that was close. For a moment there, I thought I was going to meet my maker.”

Guy: “And who is your maker? T-Mobile? How’d you get my phone number anyway? Was that magic, too?”

PHONINI: “And now for a mystifying card trick. Caller, pick a card, any card.”

Guy: “Why are you saying, ‘caller?’ You called ME, remember?”

PHONINI: “Have you chosen your card? Write it down on a piece of paper.”

Guy: “This is ridiculous.”

PHONINI: “Have you written it down, sir?”

Guy [grabs a piece of paper and writes down the four of clubs]: “Okay, okay. I’ve written it down.”

PHONINI: “Very good, my fine chap. Is this your card?

Guy: Is WHAT my card? I can’t see what you’re holding.

PHONINI: Oh, right. My bad. Well, then. Would your card by any chance be the seven of hearts?”

Guy: “Nope. Very impressive.”

PHONINI: “Oh dear. Well then, surely it must have been the Jack of Spades.”

Guy: Strike two, El PHONINI.”

PHONINI: “My, this is quite embarrassing. My good fellow, would you mind going to your refrigerator and opening the door?”

Guy: “Dude, you’re starting to creep me out. If this is Barney, you really need to stop your day drinking, buddy. Okay, I’m at my fridge and I’ve opened the door.”

PHONINI: Excellent. Now, open the crisper drawer and grab that orange sitting there.”

Guy: “Wait, what? How did you know I have an orange in my fridge?”

PHONINI: “Lucky guess.“

Guy: “Yeah, yeah. Seriously, how did you know I had an orange there? Is T-Mobile bugging my house with hidden web cams?”

PHONINI: “Now, take a sharp-edged knife and slice your orange in half.”

Guy: “You know, I’m this close to calling the cops on you. But okay, here goes.” [Guy grabs a knife and slices the orange down the middle.]

PHONINI: “Please peel the cover off the orange. Tell me, what do you see?”

Guy [peels the cover off, as instructed]: “What the f*ck? There’s a card inside the cover of my orange.”

PHONINI: “Would you mind sharing what card appears?”

Guy: “How in the HELL did you do that!!!”

PHONINI: “What, pray tell, is the card you have found, sir?”

Guy [thunderstruck with confusion]: “It’s the four of clubs. That’s my card! THAT’S MY CARD!! How did you do that???!!!”

PHONINI: “It’s magic. Thank you for being a great audience. And now for my very final act, I will make myself disappear.”

And in a flash, the GREAT PHONINI vanished. The line was dead.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos. And check out my new book, THE SECRET TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS (is Something I Have Never Figured Out. I’ Open to Suggestions).

Apparently My Wife Doesn’t Like It When I Kiss Other Women

Apparently My Wife Doesn’t Like It When I Kiss Other Women

Sometimes I can disappoint my wife and, without intending to, hurt her feelings. For example, recently she was telling me something about something – not really sure what her point was. I was watching a football game at the time. Then she asked me a question about something or other. Apparently, “Sure, honey, that’s great” was not the response she was looking for when she asked me (I later learned) “When do you plan to start making dinner?” So, she got a little peeved, if you can believe this, just because I had not listened to a single word she’d been saying for the past five minutes. In my defense, it was a playoff game.

Don’t get me wrong. My wife is a wonderful person. But she asked that I not mention her by name in this story and therefore will be referred to as “Joanna.” I love Mic – er, Joanna dearly. But sometimes, it seems I can’t quite measure up to her lofty expectations of her husband. Now and then she’ll roll her eyes in annoyance over the most trivial infractions. Like the time I left the toilet seat up after I used it. Or the time I ate the last slice of German Chocolate cake without consulting her first. Or the time I kissed another woman.

Perhaps that last example warrants additional clarification. I couldn’t very well deny that I had kissed another woman because, technically, I did it right in front of Joanna. She saw the whole thing. I must have misread the other woman’s buying signals because when I kissed her, like Joanna, she was none too pleased about it. This woman, who I’ll call “Sarah,” was, to my surprise, so put off by my sudden romantic overture that she slapped me across the face. But I have an explanation for my actions: She was really attractive. (My wife has informed me that does not make what I did okay. I guess I just disappointed her again.)

In retrospect, I can see how my actions might have been slightly hurtful to Joanna. Perhaps I should have asked her for permission before I took Sarah in my arms, caressed her hair, and kissed her. I probably did not make things any better when later that same evening, I approached Sarah again and once again planted a passionate kiss on her lips. My wife caught me in the act this second time as well. (She sure can be a busybody.) My encore kissing performance just made matters worse. I now appreciate how, from Joanna’s perspective, I probably mishandled this affair, because, to be honest, I didn’t give a second’s thought about how my actions would impact my life partner.

I imagine Joanna was asking herself, “Who is this man I thought I knew? Can’t he see I’m right here?!?” I should add that on my second romantic overture, as our mouths came together, Sarah didn’t slap me. She didn’t push me away. Quite the contrary. She acted as if she really liked it – a lot. She put her arms around me and swooned. It was magical – except for the small part about Joanna being a witness to this scene. I was concerned that she might not speak to me for the rest of the evening – or make me dinner.

I am not proud to admit that I pursued this tawdry affair for three weeks. I only saw Sarah on Friday and Saturday evenings, and on a couple Sunday afternoons. Before each visit, I rehearsed what I was going to say to her to win her heart again. And my lines worked perfectly. Each rendezvous was as exciting as the previous one. But after three weeks, Sarah abruptly broke it off, without so much as a goodbye kiss. She decided she had to put our affair behind her. I never saw her again. I would never feel the touch of her ruby red lips or her hands as they forcefully slapped my face, ever again.

I have to say, Joanna was surprisingly forgiving. Because after having witnessed me kiss Sarah not once but twice, on the way home, she barely brought it up. What a great gal! But to be honest, I’m not really sure why any of this should have bothered her in the first place. For starters, Joanna and I weren’t even married at the time. We were just dating. I had never said I wouldn’t see other people.

Spoiler Alert: When Joanna and I were dating, I got cast as Sky Masterson in a community theater production of Guys And Dolls. My character had to kiss his female co-star, Sarah Brown, twice in each of our show’s eight performances. Hey, I was just doing my job!

Spoiler Alert: When Joanna and I were dating, I got cast as Sky Masterson in a community theater production of Guys And Dolls. My character had to kiss his female co-star, Sarah Brown, twice in each of our show’s eight performances. Hey, I was just doing my job!

Oh, and I’m not sure if this next part is important, but the woman I kissed was a fellow actor in a community theater production of Guys And Dolls we were in, in Miami, FL, the city where Joanna and I first met. We were on stage in front of 400 people just performing our lines, which included two kissing scenes.

So, if you ask me, I really think my wife should have taken up her concerns with the director, not me. I was just following the script.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

[Author’s Postscript: The story above is 100% true. In the play, my character, a rogue, suave gambler named Sky Masterson, falls in love with a character exactly his opposite: an upright, devoutly religious Salvation Army worker named, you guessed it, SARAH Brown.

Our characters kissed twice in each of our eight performances, which were performed on Friday and Saturday nights and matinees on Sunday. In the first instance, the virtuous, innocent Sarah is mortified by Sky’s slick, overly bold unexpected kiss, so much so that she slaps him in the face afterward. And my co-star did not hold back! But later in the play, the two characters fall deeply in love and Sky kisses her again, this time, with her swooning in his arms – just the way my wife swoons every time I kiss her. Um, sort of . – TEJ]

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022

Thank You for Your Donation to Donald Trump’s Election Defense Fund

Thank You for Your Donation to Donald Trump’s Election Defense Fund

[Author’s note for the humor-impaired: This is a piece of political satire and not an actual solicitation for more money by the Trump campaign. – TEJ]

My Fellow Americans,

This is your legitimate president, Donald J. Trump. I want to thank you – and roughly 470 million other great Americans – for your generous donation of $100 to my Election Defense Fund. As you know, the nasty “Unselect” January 6th Committee is perpetuating the bigliest hoax in our nation’s history, claiming that I tried to overturn the 2020 election results. This is all part of the radical Democrats’ BIG STEAL. I won the election by the greatest landslide since Andrew Jackson defeated Herbert Hoover. I beat Sleepy Joe Biden by more than 30 million votes. If you don’t believe me, ask Rudy.

Mike Lindell (the My Pillow Guy) has proof that Venezuelan goat herders colluded with Filipino call center operators to rig the Dominion voting machines so that every vote cast for the Democrat nominee for president actually ended up being switched to a vote for Joe Biden. How in the world would I stand a chance when the machines were all rigged against me like that?

If it weren’t for millions of totally fraudulent mail-in ballots by dead people (not counting my mail-in ballot, which was PERFECT), it wouldn’t have been close. My attorney John Eastman assures me most of the Democrat mail-in ballots clearly violated the Constitution’s “It’s So Unfair” clause. If those ballots were eliminated, I’d have won by more than 400 million votes – 500 million if you include Puerto Rico. Those Puerto Ricans love me.

Everybody knows that the January 6th Committee has absolutely no case against me. The only evidence they “claim” to have is firsthand eyewitness testimony from more than 500 former Trump Administration officials and allies who testified that the election wasn’t stolen and argued that Mike Pence lacked the authority to overturn the election for me, then told me all of this, and then said I ignored their legal counsel and staged a coup anyway. They even claim I pressured the Secretary of State for Georgia to “find me 11,780 votes.” So untrue. I only needed, 9,500 votes.

They also claim to have proof from over 100 people in my administration that I deliberately incited a violent insurrection on the Capitol by urging my followers to get wild at the Capitol and stop the certification vote. And when it got out of control, they said I didn’t do anything for more than three hours to stop the violence. In my defense, I didn’t have time to call off the peaceful protestors smashing through the Capitol’s windows because I was busy watching a parade on TV and tweeting. And besides, who are you going to believe: a bunch of hacks I hand-picked for their positions or me, the most honest, stable genius president ever? Next to me, Lincoln looks like Lyin’ Abe.

That’s why I created the Donald J. Trump Election Defense Fund – to combat these lies. To date, thanks to 640 million patriotic Americans like yourself, we’ve raised at least 250 MILLION DOLLARS. These funds will go to pay for my legal defense team, with the remaining $245 million set aside to help me buy Fox News and pay off a few hookers who claim that I paid them to sleep with me at the White House when Melania was out of town. That’s a lie. I never paid them.

If you don’t actually recall making your donation, that’s probably just because you were tired. Your Republican-led state legislature and your local Republican-led Board of Elections Supervisors have  assured me that you intended to vote for me, had it not been for the Democrats’ blatant efforts to steal the 2020 election from me. Now they plan to steal my 2024 election win, too. Don’t let them. That’s why I need your help with another $100 donation to my Election Defense Fund, so I can be rightfully restored to my throne the White House for another 12-year term.

A few people claim they don’t recall donating to my offshore Cayman Islands bank account Election Defense Fund. If that describes you, perhaps, when you clicked to opt out of one of the 300 email solicitations I sent you in the past six months, you failed to notice the 3-point type disclaimer at the bottom of page 7, which clearly stated:

“By opting out, you agree to make a donation of $100 every month until the last of your grandchildren dies, payable to the Trump Mar-a-Lago Club, LLC Election Defense Fund. No need to provide your credit card information. We already have it, thanks to a Russian internet troll farm we hired. We also have your social security number – just in case we need it down the road.”

The despicable January 6th Committee has nothing on me. And to those critics who claim I tried to have my own Vice President killed by an angry mob, that’s just another vicious lie. I only wanted Mikey boy roughed up a little – to teach him a lesson about the importance of loyalty.

The Committee claims my Election Defense Fund doesn’t even exist. That’s ridiculous – another lie being spread by Crooked Hillary and Hunter Biden. I had my crack team of investigators, led by Sean Hannity and that Shaman Dude who stormed the Capitol, look into it. It turns out that the $250 million is missing. And I can prove that it was stolen by Liz “Pelosi’s Lapdog” Cheney and “Little Adam Schitt.” They committed the biggest theft since Pete Davidson stole Kim Kardashian from Kanye.

Please contribute to the Donald Trump Election Defense Fund. For every $100 you donate, President Trump will send a needy middle school child an AR-15, so they can protect themselves from Radical Democrats intent on destroying our democracy.

Please contribute to the Donald Trump Election Defense Fund. For every $100 you donate, President Trump will send a needy middle school child an AR-15, so they can protect themselves from Radical Democrats intent on destroying our democracy.

That’s why I’m writing to you. I urgently need your help to stop this steal and replace the $650 million that the Democrats and RINOs stole from my Election Defense Fund. Won’t you join the other 795 million gun-loving Americans who have already pledged to donate to help me Make America Great Again?

Together, we will prove that I clearly won the election fair and square, winning over 80% of the 850 electoral votes. When I’m residing again at Mar-a-Lago North (formerly known as the White House), I promise to pardon all the great patriotic protestors who were simply at the Capitol on January 6th because they were told by Kenyan-born Barack Obama that Congress was giving out free ice cream sundaes in the House Chamber. When they found out there was no ice cream, a few of them got a little “hangry” and got mildly annoyed. Could have happened to anyone.

Unless you want to turn America over to Crazy Nancy and her Democratic Antifa Socialist Party, please give generously. Thank you for your commitment to vote for me again in 2024. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, I voted for Biden in 2020. Why would I vote for you in 2024?”  trust me, you will. You see, I hired a Proud Boys reconnaissance team, and they’ve taken some extremely compromising photos of you which will be very hard to explain to your spouse – unless you vote for me.

Sincerely,

President Donald J. Trump

The Greatest President in the history of history

THIS LETTER WAS SENT ON BEHALF OF DONALD J. TRUMP, WHO APPROVED THIS MESSAGE.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos. And check out my new book, THE SECRET TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS (is Something I Have Never Figured Out. I’ Open to Suggestions).

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022

Songs for Cats

Songs for Cats

It’s no secret that my wife and I are crazy about cats. We’ve fostered dozens of kittens and adult cats over the years. We currently belong to three (formerly) male cats who were all once fosters: Zippy, Buddy, and our newest family member, Monster. Some readers may even recall that Zippy once authored a tell-all book trashing me. But we settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

We pet owners sure do love our furry companions. Many people, like my good friend and fellow humor writer Dorothy Rosby, even talk to them on a regular basis.

And sure, I talk to my cats too. Who doesn’t talk to their cat? (Unless they are one of those freakishly ugly hairless sphynx breeds – I just don’t trust them.)

When I talk to my cats, it’s always about important things, like whether my Seattle Seahawks should trade their quarterback Russell Wilson for a pair of first round draft picks or reminding them to make the bed after I get up in the morning or asking them if there’s anything good on TV. I can’t say with 100% certainty that they always understand what I’m saying, but they never ask clarifying questions, so I presume they’re tracking with me.

Cats are a lot smarter than most people think. One clever cat lover even wrote a book called Why Cats Paint. It was so successful that I plan to rip off his idea and pump out a series of similar books, including Why Cats Cook, Why Cats Bowl, and Why Cats Don’t Particularly Care About Particle Physics.

Some people wonder whether cats actually love us back. I can say with confidence that Zippy and Buddy love me. The verdict’s still out on Monster, ever since I recently put him in the laundry room for two days for peeing on the bed. He holds onto grudges.

I truly adore our cats, even though they almost never offer to help with the chores. That said, any time I put new sheets on the bed, Zippy is always eager to help – which he does by jumping up on the bed (right before I put down the fitted sheet) and lying there for hours under all the new warm sheets and blankets. Even when one of them misbehaves, I can’t stay mad at them. I even forgave Buddy the time he leapt up on my laptop keyboard and somehow instantly managed to delete a humor article I’d been laboring on for three hours but had failed to save. But did he ever apologize? Sadly, no.

I like to give our cats several nicknames. For example, I have periodically called Monster Pumpkin, Cuddles, Squawker, BumpelRumpinface, and most recently, The Evil One Who Must Be Destroyed. But they always seem to respond to my call, regardless what name I call them (so long as I come bearing treats).

I also like to tell jokes to my cats. But when it comes to humor, they are a tough audience. Whenever I read them portions of my latest column, they rarely chuckle or even smirk. Typically they just stare at me until they realize I don’t have any treats, then walk away – so, pretty much the same response I get from my wife.

Millions of cat owners routinely proclaim their affection for their furry friends by snuggling with them and telling them how much they love them. Like I said, I do that too. But I also sing to my cats – with original lyrics I make up. That said, I’ve never been able to come up with a song lyric that rhymes with “Monster.” I’m seriously considering changing his name to Ned or Brad, both of which are much easier to rhyme.

At left: Our tuxedo cat Buddy fitfully trying to sleep. Notice how stressed out he appears. My guess is he’s worried about when he’s going to be fed next. At right: Buddy after I just sang him a song I wrote about bunnies. See how totally Zen he is. Buddy finds my music very soothing.

At left: Our tuxedo cat Buddy fitfully trying to sleep. Notice how stressed out he appears. My guess is he’s worried about when he’s going to be fed next. At right: Buddy after I just sang him a song I wrote about bunnies. See how totally Zen he is. Buddy finds my music very soothing.

My songs cover a wide variety of timely topics from “I can’t see my computer monitor with you sitting there” to “Would you like to go bungee jumping with me tomorrow” to “how’d you get so fat – did you eat your brother?” – all in perfect rhyme but far from perfect pitch.  I’m pretty sure my wife enjoys when I break out in song for our cats because whenever I start up, she immediately goes to another room (no doubt for better acoustics).

Here is a song I just sang to Buddy, while he was curled up on my lap (sung to the show tune, Where is Love, from the movie Oliver):

Where-ere-ere-ere-ere is Bud?

Where-ere-ere-ere-ere is Bud?

Is he in a tree? Or the bottom of the sea

All covered up in mud?

Catchy, I agree. Or this one I recently composed for Zippy (sung to the tune of Hey, Paula by the singers Paul and Paula):

Hey, Hey, Zippy, I see you giving me a glance

Hey, Hey, Zippy, now you have jumped up on my pants

I wish you wouldn’t leave

All of your fur on my pant sleeve

Hey, Zippy, don’t make me ship you to France

I’m thinking of making an album called Pet Sounds (I sure hope nobody else has used that name yet). Oh sure, you may think I’m a bit quirky since I like to sing to my cats. I mostly croon Broadway show tunes, pop songs, and the occasional Gregorian chant. It’s not like I would ever sing them opera arias because that would be ridiculous.

Trust me, I’m not obsessed with our cats. I would never dress them up in silly costumes. And I would never install one of those giant cat walls that go around half the living room for them to climb up on – unless my wife changes her mind about that.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022.

“Buenos Nachos” – Beginning Spanish for American Tourists

“Buenos Nachos” – Beginning Spanish for American Tourists

So you’re on vacation in Mexico, but you don’t know a word of Spanish. Let me help you out. For starters, if you’re thirsty for a local beer, you might not want to ask the bartender, “Do you have Corona?” Be safe and ask for Dos Equis instead.

So you’re on vacation in Mexico, but you don’t know a word of Spanish. Let me help you out. For starters, if you’re thirsty for a local beer, you might not want to ask the bartender, “Do you have Corona?” Be safe and ask for Dos Equis instead.

It was 10pm at night. We had just arrived, exhausted, in La Paz, Mexico. We were about to spend ten relaxing days on vacation at a charming seaside resort on the Sea of Cortez. Ah, paradise awaits us. A gracious young Mexican hotel staffer assisted us with our luggage and showed us to our room before he bid us a pleasant goodnight.

As I attempted to tell him “goodnight” in Spanish, I suddenly had a deer-in-the-headlights moment. I haltingly fumbled my response, awkwardly uttering “um, Buenos Nachos, señora.” My wife quickly pointed out that I had just told the young man “Good Nachos, ma’am.” That might explain the confused expression on his face as he walked out the door. I meant to say “Buenas noches, señor.” In my defense, it turns out that the resort’s restaurant, I would later discover, did in fact serve very tasty nachos. So in a way, I was eerily correct in saying Buenos Nachos.

Truth is I hadn’t studied up nearly enough on my basic Spanish before our trip. To help you avoid an embarrassing faux pas like mine, let’s review some basic lessons in Beginning Spanish. This should assist you greatly the next time you’re planning on traveling to Mexico – or hiring a roofer to replace your roof.

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed to discover that most Mexicans primarily speak Spanish… all the time. Many of them are shockingly limited in their English vocabulary. So, if you find yourself drawing a total blank on how to converse in Spanish, don’t worry. Do what I usually do. Just speak confidently and loudly in plain English while laying on your thickest Ricky Ricardo Spanish accent. Eventually, in many cases, the local will get so annoyed that they’ll start responding in English. Problem solved.

One of the nice things about the Spanish language is that many of its words are similar to the English word for the same thing. For example: We say “romantic.” In Spanish, they say “romantico.” We say “fantastic.” They say “fantástico.” I say, “Do you have any weed?” They say, “Estas bajo arresto,” which loosely translates to “you’re under arrest.” Turns out undercover police in Mexico don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to drugs.

At some point, your attempts to explain your request for assistance in loud English with a bad Spanish accent may not be enough to engage in a successful exchange. As unfair as it sounds, you’ll probably need to learn a few useful expressions to get around. Here are a few beginning phrases that may come in handy on your next adventure to Mexico:

“¿Dónde está el baño?” >> which means “Where is the bathroom?”

“¿Conoces algún buen restaurante cerca?” >> “Do you know of a good restaurant nearby?”

“¿Dónde está el hospital más cercano? Creo que me rompí el brazo golpeando una piñata.” >> “Where is the nearest hospital? I think I broke my arm swatting at a pinata.”

“Por favor perdoname. Cuando le pedí sexo a esa mujer, no me di cuenta de que era tu esposa” >> “Please forgive me. When I propositioned that woman for sex, I did not realize she was your wife.”

See these American tourists? They just arrived in Mexico, but none of them speaks the language. That became a problem when Charlie (in the red Hawaiian shirt) tried to explain to the waitress that he is 32 years old. He meant to say, “Tengo 32 años.” But what he actually said was, “Tengo 32 anos:”: “I have 32 anuses.” It went downhill from there.

See these American tourists? They just arrived in Mexico, but none of them speaks the language. That became a problem when Charlie (in the red Hawaiian shirt) tried to explain to the waitress that he is 32 years old. He meant to say, “Tengo 32 años.” But what he actually said was, “Tengo 32 anos:”: “I have 32 anuses.” It went downhill from there.

Sometimes, if you can’t think of the appropriate Spanish word in the moment, you might try inserting a French or Italian expression instead. As they are all Romance languages, oftentimes, the word you’re looking for is similar.

Let’s say you’re in Puerto Vallarta, and you’re in the mood for Chinese food. You want to ask the local for the name of a “good Chinese restaurant.”

In Spanish, it’s “un buen restaurante chino.” In Italian it’s “un bel ristorante cinese.” And in French, it’s “un bon restaurant chinois”

Notice how the words for “a good Chinese restaurant” are all quite similar. On second thought, forget about it. I just remembered. There are no good Chinese restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.

If you’re in a jam, there’s always Google Translate to the rescue. You simply type what you want to say in English, and voilà (that’s French). Your phone’s Google Translate app can instantly transcribe your English message into any one of over 100 languages. Truly incredible.

The next time you’re in, say, Peru, and you want to buy an authentic handmade Peruvian hat from one of the local street vendors, don’t worry if you can’t think of the right words. Just type into Google Translate, “I love this hat. How much does it cost?”

Then show your phone to the merchant and watch as they read the following phrase, complete with accent marks: “Unë e dua këtë kapelë. Sa kushton?”

Notice how they suddenly appear to be confused, raise their voice, gesticulate wildly, and shout in your face, “no tengo idea de lo que acabas de decir”. Your wife quickly pulls you aside and informs you that they said, “I have no idea what you just said.” But don’t panic. Just look at your phone. Notice how you accidentally had the translation set to Albanian. No problema, amigo.

If all else fails, you will want to memorize these two words: “¿habla Inglés?”

You’ll get the hang of it eventually. Maybe not this minute. Maybe not today, but no doubt by bañana – which my wife just pointed out does not mean tomorrow in Spanish. She gently added, “The word you’re looking for is mañana – you idiot!”

If it all feels just a little too overwhelming trying to learn Spanish before your next vacation, then the first time you come across a local and you have no idea what they just said, just smile. Point to your wife. Let her do the talking. Clearly she’s way better at this than you are.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. Or as they say in Mexico, “Esa es la vista desde las gradas. Quizás me equivoque.”

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022