Today I saw the other side of the supermarket queue thing. Having been harangued for attempted queue-jumping the other day, this morning I was invited by two gentlemen, yes, TWO, to go ahead of them in the queue.
I had bought milk yesterday on my way back from the hairdresser’s but, despite the fact that its use-by date was not until Friday, when I heated some up for our breakfast coffee it curdled in the pan. Not pleasant! Why should that happen? It’s not the first time I have bought bottles of milk from the Froiz supermarket only to find that they go off before their sell-by date has been reached. Can an apparently thriving supermarket chain not store its milk properly? I prefer milk in bottles to milk in cartons – it’s just one of those things about being in my comfort zone – but I think I’m going to buy my milk in cartons from Mercadona from now on.
Anyway, this morning we had a small breakfast problem. Fortunately Mercadona is literally just next door so I was able to pop down and pick up a couple of cartons of milk. As I approached the till, first one gentleman and then another looked at my small amount of shopping and said to me, “¡Pase usted primera!” So I thanked them nicely and went in front of them. I like to think it was my charming person that prompted such chivalry but I suspect it was the fact that I looked like someone in a hurry who had not had breakfast yet.
So, you see, chivalry is alive and well and lives in Vigo.
Of course, it may be that they looked at me and saw a foreigner and wanted to impress me with how gallant Spanish men are. I say this because I walked into the chess club one evening recently and had Pepe, the club secretary, greet me with, “Hola, tú y Phil sois muy guiris” – “You and Phil look very foreign”. Asked to explain he talked about our clothes. OK, I was wearing a sunhat and suglasses but even so. We pointed out that we see many Galicians dressed just like us on the streets of Vigo. Goodness me, I even buy some of my clothes here! So then he said, “Sois tan blanquitos” – “You’re so pale, i.e. not suntanned”. Now, I had to protest. I may not be brown, brown, brown but I’m hardly pale. You can’t hang around the swimming pool as much as I do and not get something of a tan. In response to my “¿Blanquita, yo?” he took another look and conceded that I am not, in fact, all that pale. But then he went on, “Pero tienes esa cara tan inglesa” – “But you have a very English face”. You can’t win. He sees us as “guiris” and so we have to accept it: “guiris” is what we are!
At least we are not ninnies. In Spanish they have an expression for young people who are neither studying nor in work: “los ninis”. It comes from this: “Ni estudian, ni trabajan”. Well, last week I saw a new meaning for “nini”. There was newspaper headline: “Gobernado por los ninis” – Governed by ninis. It went on: “Mariano Rajoy ni dimite ni convoca elecciones. Es un nini.” This means, “Mariano Rajoy (President of the Spanish Parliament) will neither resign nor call elections. He is a “nini”.”
I wonder if anyone writing this knows what a ninny is in English.