It is ‘Bien,’ Right?

You know you go into a restaurant way too often when the same woman who always takes your order asks you “Como esta?” and you say “bien” and she asks “How are you?” and you say, “Bien, right?” and she laughs like you’ve just said… oh, I don’t know… “I’m having an orgasm.”

I have no idea what Spanish word it sounds like when I say “Bien” but I was both mortified when she laughed, and delighted, because it was beautiful to watch, her whole face lit up and her eyes sparkled and, really, how can you not laugh in return at that?

Ha, maybe I should have asked Santa for Spanish lessons for Christmas instead of shoes, because, apparently, I can’t even pronounce the few words I do know.

12 thoughts on “It is ‘Bien,’ Right?

  1. I think maybe she laughed because you’re supposed to say “estoy bien” or “estoy bien, y usted?” and just “bien” sounded as odd to her as if you said “how are you?” and someone responded in English with “I am very well, thank you. And you.”

  2. When I was in Austria, I asked an Austrian friend to teach me “I don’t speak German” in German in case someone came up to me and started talking when he wasn’t there to translate. After 20 minutes of me trying unsuccessfully to get out the word “spreche,” he said “You know what? just say ‘Ich kein kein Deutsches,’ it’s terrible grammer but at least they’ll know what you’re trying to say.”

    I don’t do well with foreign languages…

  3. Just tell me how to say “My! How I would love it if you would spend the afternoon smooching me while I giggled with delight!” and then let’s drop this. It’s making me self-conscious.

  4. “Just tell me how to say “My! How I would love it if you would spend the afternoon smooching me while I giggled with delight!””

    I believe a crude translation would be “estoy calor” – the people I hung out with in Spain were very careful to warn me to say “tengo calor” when the air temperature was uncomfortably warm, as we didn’t want to give the wrong idea to the people we met at the bar!

    And I said “bien” all the time in Spain and never got any weird looks. I can’t imagine what happened in that conversation with the waitress.

    In reply to Mr. Mack’s comment, to be technical “soy” is from the verb “ser” which is a different word than “estoy” from the verb “estar”, not a translation. They both mean “to be” in English, but “ser” is for things normally considered permanent (height, hair color, marriage, etc.) and “estar” is for things normally considered temporary (being hot, cold, hungry, etc.).

  5. lyrl, I do think it’s entirely possible that she didn’t hear my first answer and then, when she asked me again, not knowing that I didn’t speak Spanish, my response struck her as funny.

    If I asked, “How are you?” and you said, “Good, right?” that might strike me as silly, depending on my mood. I mean, if you don’t know how you are, how can I?

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