"Just a coffee for me, thanks," Paul nodded politely at the thirty-something waitress as she took his order.
"Anything else?" She looked up form her notepad.
"Actually," Paul interjected, eyeing his friend Jeff, who was walking through the door just that moment "better make that two."
Jeff looked tired: his eyes lie red and weary under his short, matted black hair. The young business major tossed his backpack ahead of him as he slid heavily into the booth. The cold touch of the red vinal seat felt good on his back. Spring days that felt more like summer were going more and more common as the year continued on.
"Well?" Paul shrugged as he locked eyes with his dining companion.
"Well what?" Jeff just shook his head.
"How was your trip?" Paul seemed excited to hear the details. "What was Spain like?"
"Well," Jeff began to to reguile his spring break in great detail as he let out a sigh and put up his arm on the back of the booth, "it was pretty relaxing up until the last couple of days. Funny story, actually..."
Neil planned a trip to Spain for spring break, and had determined that the cheapest way to go about getting around was to book a flight to Lisbon and head to central Spain: Madrid, Segovia, and finally down south to Seville. Neal had been adopted by a couple of reasonably wealthy Argentine immigrants, and grew up speaking Spanish as a second language, taking fifth year Spanish his freshman year in high school. Because of his lingual talent, Neil was offered a post as an interpreter for an American consulate in his choice of Spanish-speaking countries: Neil had always wanted to spend time in Madrid and brush up on his Iberian Spanish, so he figured he'd take a quick trip there before he made up his mind.
Since his vacation just so happened to be during spring break, Neil figured he'd bring a couple of friends along with him, and show them a good time al Andalus. Jeff and Austin were his two closest friends, and they just so happened to be the only ones willing to shell out for round-trip Trans-Atlantic plane tickets, so he had his work cut out for him. Neil had planned to spend exactly ten days in Spain, one in Portugal, two flying, and one recovering from jet lag.
Each of the three got different things out of the journey: Neil, of course, was perfectly content not speaking any English for the entire trip; Austin was after some fine Spanish tequila, and thus was content not being sober the entire trip... and Jeff? Well, Jeff spent the entire trip in pursuit of some Latin tail. The three young college students had the time of their lives up until the last two days in Seville.
From the outside, Seville looks like a quiet little town reminiscent of the old days of Moorish rule and the Spanish empire, but if one knows where to look, it's not at all difficult to find a place to cut loose with a few natives. Austin, armed with a rudimentary grasp of "Restaurant Spanish" and a sixth sense for seeking parties, had found what, in Europe, is commonly known as a "Disco".
They were in a small club in downtown Seville, with a bar and a small Flamenco house band that gently wafted quick and melodic music down into the crowd. The three had been there barely an hour, yet Austin was already completely inebriated, and Jeff was already ready to check out for the night, so to speak. Jeff had his eye on a young native woman seated at the bar who looked to be in her early twenties; she wore a long red skirt that obscured everything down to her heels and a traditional, yet provocative and revealing blouse. She had large gold earrings that touched her bronzed shoulders when she moved, and rested motionless against her long jet-black hair when she didn't.
Jeff sat down next to the young woman and asked for a tequila on the rocks. A few seconds passed before he turned to her to speak.
"Hey," Jeff said nonchalantly, "you look like you know your way around this town... Maybe you could help me, I'm a little lost."
She just smiled at him and nodded, as though she were deaf.
"My name's Jeff Lincoln." He stuck out his hand invitingly and returned her smile.
"Jeff?" she said in a soft, heavily accented voice.
"Yep... that's me." Jeff laughed nervously.
"Mi llamo Juanita." she spoke very quickly, "Son Americano?"
Though the proper nouns were undeniably universal, and although Jeff got the gist of her statement, he cringed as it dawned on him that she had little to no knowledge of the English language. While Austin had taken a year in high school, and Neil, who was nowhere to be found, had been their proverbial voice for the duration of the trip thus far, Jeff didn't know a single word of Spanish, which he was now sorely regretting.
"Uhh, yeah... si", Americano," Jeff parroted slowly, making no effort to conceal his lack of lingual ability. "Juanita?"
"No habla Español, verdad?" her black hair bobbed as she shook her head. Jeff could only shrug, ushering in a new silence.
"No Spanish speak?" It sounded as though her English was just negligibly better than Jeff's Spanish.
"No," Jeff shook his head to help get his point across, wondering vainly what the Spanish word for "no" was. He smiled sheepishly, thinking for sure that he had struck out and had seen his cue to retreat with his proverbial tail between his legs, but she returned a smile as she lifted a glass to her mouth. A surge of boldness grabbed Jeff by the collar and thrust him once more into conversation.
"What do you say we get out of here and go somewhere a little more private?" Jeff suggested in his inimitably sly manner.
"Pri... vat?" she parroted, though she leaned in to hear more of a language she clearly couldn't comprehend. In her demeanor, Jeff was certain that, in spite of the language barrier, she was responding to his advances: He pressed ever onward.
As Jeff slid off his barstool, he silently motioned to the stunning young Andalusian princess to follow him, which she did, exuding all the grace that one might expect from such a radiant figure. The left the sounds of Spanish folk music, chattering barflies and clanking glasses, and took a stroll out back, admiring the moon as they walked. No words passed between them for a long time; they only exchanged the occasional glance of appreciation for the beautiful landscape and for each other's company.
Getting more to the point, Jeff began to slide his hands around her back, eventually probing areas that a young man probably oughtn't be putting his hands. Still in a quite comfortable tone, however, she began to say something to him in Spanish; the only word that really stood out was something about "Mi Novio"... Jeff wasn't sure what a "Novio" was, but he would well imagine what it might be and, ever the optimist, began to pus his hand down a little lower. Though she continued to tell him about her "Novio", Jeff carried on, certain that she was encouraging him.
Only too late did he notice the 4X4 wooden beam thundering headlong towards his face, and only had time to let out a quick yelp before it did some impromptu reconstructive surgery.
"Well, a few hours later, I woke up with a nasty bruise and a headache, and she was gone..." Jeff sighed, clearly bothered more by the latter than the former, "I'll never know who she was..."
Paul only stared in amazement at his friend, shaking his head as he finally laughed.
"What?" Jeff furrowed his brow.
"You should really learn to speak Spanish, dude." Paul began to pick at his eggs, looking smug over what he was about to say.
"What makes you say that?" Jeff stared at him incredulously for a moment.
"You didn't ever ask Neil what 'Novio' meant?" Paul began to cover his eggs with ketchup and shovel them down, briefly breaking eye contact with Jeff.
"No," Jeff shook his head, his curiosity suddenly piqued, "why, what does it mean?"
"Dude," Paul laughed, "'Novio' means boyfriend. She was trying to warn you that her boyfriend was going to work you over, which, evidently, he did."
Only the sound of Paul's fork scraping his plate persisted through the silence, as Jeff stared long at his friend, stunned by this new revelation. After thinking on the manner at length, Jeff came to the conclusion that a moral could certainly be extrapolated from this incident. He know, in his heart, that he had learned a valuable lesson this day.
"From now on," Jeff announced with poignant and renewed resolve, "I only pick up English speaking chicks."
Paul shook his head at his harmlessly obtuse friend. He could try and impart upon him some real wisdom, but he concluded that it would simply be a lost cause, and just put more ketchup on his eggs instead.