(PNS reporting from SILVERLAKE) It was a shocker when encaustic and collage mixed-media artist Ben Brown found out.
Even though he spent two years of high school learning Español, his habit of dropping a word or two in Spanish into day-to-day English conversations has not increased his “street cred” even un poquito.
The self-proclaimed free-spirit, a three-year resident of this trendy “East Hollywood-adjacent” neighborhood, said he had to face the fact that others did not perceive him as special or cool merely because said “hermano” or “comprende” at the end of his sentences, and they weren’t impressed by the pains he took to pronounce the double R in words like “burrito” or “ferrocarril.”
“I practiced that for hours at home! Seriously, can’t I get any love?” he asked PNS.
Brown’s multicultural world of illusion shattered Wednesday afternoon when he tried to impress a Latina he’d had his eye on for a while at Intelligentsia Coffee in the 3900 block of Sunset Boulevard.
He’d seen her there twice before, and although he never heard her speak Spanish to anyone, he assumed by the peasant blouse and large ethnic-looking earrings she wore that she was an immigrant.
“Hola, ¿cómo estás? I love Mexican food, may I sit down for a charla?” Brown, a prematurely balding 28-year-old, said to the young woman. What followed will haunt Brown for the rest of his life.
“She just laughed at me! Hysterically, like, not even a little bit! And then she told me not only doesn’t she speak Spanish but that my Spanish was terrible and I was stereotyping her by trying to speak it,” he said.
“I’m open-minded, you know? Not fair!” he mused. “Maybe I should just learn French instead?”