NOTA CULTURAL

  1. I took Spanish in high school.
  2. Our Spanish text book had a series of sidebars called "Nota Cultural" ("Cultural Note") with tidbits of wisdom.
  3. One of these was about a supposed Spanish phrase, "¡El mundo es un pañuelo!"
    Literally "the world is a handkerchief" but ostensibly meaning "oh what a small world!"
  4. For spring break my senior year we took a school trip to Paris.
  5. While at the Louvre a couple approached me and asked me if I would take their picture.
  6. They were clearly native Spanish speakers. I asked them where they lived.
  7. "Oh we are from Spain but we actually live in America, in Indiana. We are students at Indiana University."
  8. Well let me tell you, List Appers! I was from Indiana. My sister was an IU student. I was visiting Paris from an hour away from what these folks called home.
  9. THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO SHOW MY CULTURAL AWARENESS
    (Of "Spanish language" culture mind you, as if that is a thing.)
  10. So I looked at them with surprise and said enthusiastically,
  11. "¡El mundo es un pañuelo!"
  12. And they looked at me...
  13. ...with confusion.
  14. They smiled awkwardly. She looked at him and he looked at me and then they handed me the camera and stepped back to position themselves in front of that glass pyramid.
  15. And I took the picture and returned the camera.
  16. And they walked away.
  17. Looking back once or twice at the strange American who called the world a handkerchief for no apparent reason.