Friday, July 07, 2006

Blah blah

Just as I was getting ready to blog last night, someone reminded me of my struggles as a puertorican boy coming to the states to go to college. They found it funny. So here I am sharing with you this miracle of growth.

I was a good student all thru high school. Ok.. so I had all A's. But I was not a geek. Well, only until 4th grade. In Puerto Rico, being a territory of the US, it is mandatory that you take an English class all twelve years. So just like you, I had to read things like "Jane Eyre", "Little Women", "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Catcher in the Rye", "1984", "Animal Farm", etc, etc. This little obligation however, did not necessarily produce too many fluent English speakers. However, when I graduated from junior high and then high school, to my surprise, I had the highest average grade in English. so I knew I could do better then the next person.

Although I was born in New York, I was two and a half years old when my puertorrican parents moved back. Each summer I would spend a few weekends with my cousins from New York, who would come to visit anually like clockwork. They spoke more Spanish to me than I spoke English to them. However, I was in front row for every single argument they had in English. I guess it was with them that I grew partial to the american music. And for whatever reason, my father's newspaper subscription was to the only english written daily-journal in the island, The San Juan Star. If anything, I owe most of my ability to speak english to the papers, and to the old K-Tel records.

When I landed in Milwaukee, WI, to attend my beloved Marquette University, I knew I could communicate, but with an obvious accent and a penchant to literally translate things from Spanish to English, along with the construction of the sentences (the grammar has a different order) I was not necessarily Mr. Confident.

That freshman year was brutal! I was the imported bird from the tropics; say "pretty bird".

It all started the very first day in my dorm, as the fifth floor residents of McCormick Hall met for the very first time ; all seventy some of us. We needed to get up, say your name, where you were from, etc, etc. It was my turn. I was so scared you could barely hear my voice; "Hi I am Tony Melendez, I am from Puerto Rico..." The Resident Advisor, noticing my uncomfortability jumped in to make me feel at ease. "Tony I hear Puerto Rico is beautiful, out there in the caribbean." And so the brutality started. "Yes! Puerto Rico is BERRY BERRY beautiful. There are plenty of BITCHES. Everywhere you look there is a BERRY beautiful BITCH!" I could see the faces lost in confussion. I thought they could not understand me, but that was easy, they should have been able to. I tried to make it clear; "So yes, you can go an lay on a BITCH everyday". It is my understanding there was a sismic movement recorded in Milwaukee that day.

Not having had enough, some of these freshman college students, during the "Animal House" era, felt compelled to further meet the Chico Escuela of the group. I tried to hide to no avail in my room; where not only they found me, but my roommate displayed me. I was getting a little fed up with the craziness. At one point, someone spilled beer on my bed, and I found the opportunity to lay down some respect. Or so I thought. "Dam-it, my SHITS are wet. These are me new SHITS. My mother bought me the new SHITS for school." A smaller sismic tremor was recorded.

And so it went throughout my years of college. I have only found closure and redemption since George W Bush was elected. Other "Tonyisms"?

"So Tony, what are the colors on a traffic light"
"Easy: Red, green and Jello!"
"And this year you are a Freshman, then you will be a sophomore, and then?"
" A yunior of course"

On the way to class, yelling; "Hold that BATOR"
In the morning; "Im going to take a bath" (translated from the spanish to bathe)
- My roommate: "Tony, women take baths, men shower."
"Ok, good. Then I am going to take a CHOWER".

Nowadays, if one of these pronounciations makes their way out of my mouth, I chuckle!


Blogger NtycnBoricua said...

LOL - That's great. I'm sorry you had to go through that. My brother speaks the same way and says beach, sheet, cheat just as you described. Your story reminded me berry much of him. :)

5:01 PM  
Blogger TMelendez said...

Thanks for stopping by Melanie! Hope Orlando has not been too hot lately. although I hear you guys will get cool this weekend.

I almost die laughing at your "Puertorrican Mothers" post. That was priceless!! Im going to have to make it one of those chain emails.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Awareness said...

Hey Tony

My favourite colour is jello.

I enjoyed reading your post.

BTW......I have printed off the "draft" and will read it tomorrow. Looking forward to it.


9:31 PM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

LOL...Being married to a Cuban, I am familiar with the Chevy being pronounced CHA, so I laugh with you, on the one hand, and know what you experience on the other.

BTW: Tu eres un buen persona!
Pasas un buen dia tambien.

3:33 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

I had to come & check you out. I read your comments over on "barbara from califoria"'s blog. & you always seem to have something thought provoking to say. I really enjoy that.

10:38 AM  
Blogger TMelendez said...

Awareness.. Bill Cosby also likes JELLO (pudding)

Hey Barbara... that Chevy this is the one that still comes out often along with Chicago.

l>t.. I always loved your 'name' and avatar.. speaking about thought provoking.. I still cant figure it out!!!!

5:10 PM  
Blogger Southern Sweetheart said...

hehehehee -- just as funny the 2nd time around as it was the first. :) hope you had a great weekend dude.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...


This was a funny post. I am Mexican American, grew up in Texas. I've been told NUMEROUS times that I do not have a Spanish or Texan accent (my husband says my accent is generated from watching too much MTV...LOL).

I come from a large family and I have a brother and sister who have very thick accents...chair=share; shoes=chews;... you get the idea.

How do you like all this rain?

11:44 AM  
Blogger TMelendez said...

not a good time to take a vacation week... an accent form MTV.. thats hysterical.

11:59 AM  

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