“Pastor Meeeshael?” inquired the voice on the other end of my cell phone.
“Michael, sim.” I declared, wondering exactly who was calling and why.
And, like a racehorse, she was off. Marilena (I found out her name at the very end of the conversation) with full force began winding me a story about family members and friends in need of assistance that quickly had me twisted like a pretzel.
The worst part about it was that she was calling from Brazil.
In case you don’t know this already, Brazilian Portuguese and Continental Portuguese are like fraternal twins. They don’t have as much in common as you think they should.
The syntax is different. The vocabulary is different. The accents are extremely different.
It’s the same language…but it’s not.
As she kept turning and twisting like a rabbit down its hole, my mind flew to the alternate universe called who-is-this-and-where-did-she-get-my-number?. There, I came to a very simple conclusion. I had no idea. I still don’t.
But, since I was driving down the road, I politely asked her if she might be able to send me the information in the form of an email. I should have known better than to ask, but I didn’t.
It’s all my fault for thinking that maybe she would respond by saying, “Sure,” or “No,” or even, “I would rather not…” What she said was,
I don’t know how to put in all of the characters. I don’t have any way to put in all of those characters.”
Huh? Come again?
Characters? What characters? My email contains letters from the Portuguese alphabet. It’s not in Hebrew. We’re not talking about Mandarin, here. It’s in Portuguese, her native language. It’s email. You don’t need a doctorate from MIT to put those characters in.
Exactly what does that mean? That’s right. I’m asking you, because right about now, I’m in the dark.
So, I decide to change my strategy just a little bit. I tell her that I’ll get my wife to write down the information and guess what…
Like a racehorse, she was off, again. This time with names and numbers mixed together. The way Nina wrote everything down, it looks like she was keeping score for a Yahtzee tournament.
Incredible. Really incredible.
So, against my better judgment, one more time I try to ask her another question. In Portuguese I say,
Qual é o nome dele?
Word for word that would be translated, “Which is the name of him?” and the word “dele” in northern Portugal is pronounced pretty much like an Alabamian saying dill as in “dill pickle.”
When I said that, it threw her for a loop. Now it was her turn to have no idea.
So, pushed against the wall, after repeating “dele” (dill) 4-5 times, I finally climbed down off of my high horse and said with my best Brazilian pronunciation,
Qual é o nome dele?
Only this time instead of saying it like, dill, I said it like deli.
OHHH!! Dele? (saying it like deli)….and once again, Marilena was off…like a racehorse.
So, which is it? Dill or deli?