When I was growing up, my mom loved to sit down and watch “The Amazing Race” every week. It’s a competition reality show where teams of two race across the world and complete challenges at each destination for a massive cash prize. She would ask my dad and me, “Who will be my race partner?” The answer would depend on who she liked more that day. 

Since then, my life has more or less been dedicated to acquiring skills that would make me the more viable candidate. At age 20, I train in the gym, have earned the role of designated map reader of the family, and can drive stick shift. 

I’ve also traveled abroad myself and can tell you two essentials you must bring when traveling — a friend who can speak Spanish, and a pair of nice tits. Bonus points if both are on the same friend. 

My Spanish-speaking friend saved another friend’s life during a medical emergency while I was studying abroad in 2019. We were in the small Italian city of Ferrara when my classmate passed out in the middle of the city square. None of the emergency personnel nearby spoke a lick of English, and we didn’t speak Italian, but they sure did speak Spanish! So native speaker Cass was able to tell the carabinieri all the details of the situation and get our friend the help he needed. 

After that, I began to take my high school Spanish classes a bit more seriously, since you never know when it might come in handy. 

I finally got to put my four years of Spanish education to the test when my mother and I took a group trip to Barcelona and Paris. I was excited to practice my Spanish with native speakers — until our tour guide, Christina, told us that they actually don’t speak Spanish in Barcelona but rather a dialect native to the Catalonia region of Spain. Barcelonans were still gracious of my attempt to communicate with them, though. 

My intermediate Spanish came in handy when I needed to communicate with Christina without my fellow travelers listening in (since they didn’t speak any language other than English). 

“¿Por qué esperamos a esas putas?” I asked Christina while we were waiting on a Parisienne street corner for the rest of our group, who lacked respect for curfews. Christina choked on air and sent Mom and me back to the bus as punishment.

But my Spanish also convinced Christina that for one evening in Paris, my mother and I could be allowed to stay in the city while the rest of the group went back to the hotel. 

“I trust you two to not get murdered or kidnapped,” Christina confided in us before turning us loose to enjoy some local red wine and wander the streets of Paris slightly tipsy. 

Mom and I decided we’d make the trek up to the Eiffel Tower to see it light up after the sun went down. We waited in the excruciatingly long line, mooched off the free wifi, and made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower exactly as it lit up for the first time that night. I planted a biiiiig smooch on my mother’s cheek before we descended back down to take some pictures and catch a train back to our hotel. 

By the time we got to the metro station, it was past midnight. We had dodged enough street vendors and clubs-on-wheels to check that tourist experience off the list, and wanted to get away from the hordes and sleep in the pillowy hotel beds.

But our adventure did not end there. After we deliberated (argued) over the map about which line we should take, I conceded to my mother’s decided route, and we finally hopped on the metro (remember how I said I am the designated map reader?). Mom basically fell asleep as soon as she sat down, while I kept an eye on the monitor above displaying the stops along the route.

The train kept moving and stopping, moving and then stopping. Something was wrong. Our hotel’s stop was not on the monitor. 

I shook Mom awake and told her we needed to get off at the next stop and ask a local for help. At the next platform, a handsome Parisian man with thick-rimmed glasses who spoke English told us we should catch a “G” train and take it to the last stop on the line — but we better not miss it, as all the trains were on their very last routes for the whole night. It was 1:30 a.m.. 

Mom and I thanked the pretty glasses-man for his help and hopped on the G train to the end of the line. When we got off the train, we realized he had been very correct about the train station closing — there wasn’t a single soul in the station. We groggily trudged underneath the yellow-fluorescents, following the signs that pointed to the exits, cordoned off by turnstiles. 

“Oh but Mariah, they’re just turnstiles!” you might be saying, but you’re wrong. These turnstiles were stupid American-proof. They would not budge. We kept trying to force our way through with our hips, all the while two men watched from outside the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, high as a kite and laughing their asses off. 

Five minutes later, an older gentleman wandered up behind us and wordlessly swiped his card at the turnstiles to let us through. We profusely thanked his back as he continued out the doors and away from the stupid, lost Americans.

You see, the plan was at first to hail a taxi cab once we got off the train, but we had to reevaluate when we realized the outside of the train station was just as desolate as the inside. There wasn’t even a glimmer of hope of catching a cab, and the clock was fast approaching 2 a.m.. 

Across the street from the train station, though, was our beacon of hope: A pizza shop with its lights on and a lively crowd inside. Mom and I approached the locked door and knocked on its glass, and one of the people inside let us in. 

“Parlez-vous anglais?” we asked upon entering the pizza shop-turned-private bar, and were met with a resounding, “Non!” 

So I pulled out the next best thing.

“Parlez-vous espagnol?” And the bar erupts in happy chatter: “Sí, sí!” 

As it turned out, we happened to stumble across a local gathering of Parisian immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. We were immediately welcomed in, and they surrounded us, offering beers, snacks, and telling us how much they love Americans and the Great U.S. of A. I asked them if we could borrow their phones to call an Uber, and they happily obliged. I bought a Red Bull. It was 2:30 a.m.. 

The guy who ordered our Uber walked outside with my mother and me, his wife trailing along. I made small talk with them until the sleek black car drove up to where we were waiting… and proceeded to drive away. 

Okay, attempt #2. An overly eager guy with a wiry, patchy beard offered my mother and me a ride on his tiny moped when we dejectedly returned to the bar. Seeing as there were three of us, his moped looked more like a bicycle with a lawn mower motor attached, and he was very obviously intoxicated, so I politely declined his offer. 

The whole time, my mother sits there, laughing and smiling, not a clue as to what’s going on around her. I couldn’t defer to her; that woman’s small Spanish vocabulary was long lost to the sands of time. It was up to me to save us both.

At 2:45 a.m., the bartender finally tells me that his friend who is a taxi driver had clocked out for the day and was on his way to the bar to meet up with the rest of the group. The bartender offered to ask his friend if he was willing to make one last trip. 

When his friend pulled up to the bar/pizza shop, the bartender came outside with us and explained our situation in rapid-fire Spanish that the doting Señora Witter did not teach me. Before he gives us the greenlight, the bartender turns to me and says a phrase I didn’t entirely pick up on — something about my being an angel? 

I smiled and nodded, “sí, y. . .”-ing everything he said until he asked, “Puedo ver?” while seeming to gesture at my gauzy pink jumpsuit I had worn to my sophomore year homecoming and specifically packed to wear in Paris. I figured he was complimenting the wonderful outfit, but I figured out when he began to make direct eye contact with my chest for a whole minute, that that was not what he was asking to look at. 

In Spanish 4, they do not teach you how to defend yourself from sexual harassment, and the clock was nearing 3 a.m., so I let him soak up the star-spangled glory of my all-American tits. When he finally broke his stare I shook his hand, thanked him for the ride, and hopped into the cab with my mother cackling as she slid into the seat next to me. 

We finally made it back to our hotel at 3:15 a.m., and Mom tipped the taxi driver nearly triple the typical amount. I told him it was for his drinks when he got back to the pizza shop.

“So, can I be your partner in the Amazing Race now?” I asked her. After all, my proficiency in Spanish and obvious sideboob had just saved our lives in Paris. 



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