English catches me off guard in a butt class.

7 02 2007

It’s always surprising to hear English here. I know a lot of people here can speak English because, sometimes when I’ve had trouble in stores, complete strangers have helped me figure things out in my own language. Although I think lots of people can speak English, Portuguese obviously is the language I hear most often on the streets.

But it’s not like it doesn’t exist on the streets. There’s one section of the main street near my house that I consistently hear English speakers with American accents. They must be business people because mostly they’re on their cell phones. Sometimes, there’s English on billboards or it’s part of store names. I seem to recall a store called “Mommy Land Baby Land” somewhere near here. Or something involving “mommy” and “baby” in the title. And something else about “land.” Another popular English word I see around a lot, which is “hot.” Clubs, clothes, stores…lots of things are “hot.”

I hear lots of songs in English, too. One night at a club, they played the techno version of “One Last Cry.” As the song suggests, it’s maybe not the *most* rivetingly positive or inspiring song out there, but there it was, in a club, that people were grooving to and jumping all over the place. This led me to believe that what the song was actually saying wasn’t as important as the sound of the music because, maybe, most of the people there couldn’t understand the lyrics.

Had another observation today that lyrics maybe weren’t understandable was during my butt class at the gym today. It’s a fantastic class with the most incredible, empowering, inspirational instructor since my yoga teacher years ago, and she uses energetic music that makes the time pass quickly. Anyway, we’re on our hands and knees at the start of class, lifting our right legs in the air for a four count or whatnot: “E mais oito! sete! seis!…” and then suddenly, I hear, something-something-something “mother fucking slut.”


I looked up to see if the lyrics had registered on anyone’s face or on the instructor. “…quatro! tres! dois!…” Nothing. Not even a pause. So, I kept lifting. And then there was something more about “kicking ass” or “bitch slapping” or whatever.

What could I do? It’s not like I can stop the class and say, “Uh, do we realize what we’re listening to?” And it’s not like I would anyway; I’m not Puritan or anything. It was a good song. But it makes me wonder, when I’m enjoying a lovely Brazilian song as I’m drifting off to sleep or waking up first thing in the morning, am I hearing the Portuguese equivalent of “mother fucking slut” and enjoying it with a calm smile on my face?




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