Language Barrier

Originally published online March 23, 2016

Way back when, going to border towns for fun was a rite of passage for guys attending colleges and universities in Texas. Do kids these days still do that?  

This story also has a few shout-outs to friends that live to the south of me…some farther south than others. 😉

NOTE: Hover your mouse over italicized text for a translation!


In the town of Tigre Blanco, a trio of foxes walked side by side down a sidewalk looking for a place to party. The sidewalk was crowded with the throngs of college students that populated the border town’s streets and clubs during their Fall Break week.

A large fox who barely fit into his letterman jacket turned to the left to ask: “Are you sure it’s this way, Josh?”

“I’m pretty sure it is, Shawn,” the second member of the group; a fox of average build wearing a plain T-shirt, replied.

“I hope your directions are good, dude,” said Jake, the third member of the group. He was also of average build and wore a grey hoodie that read “Texas State College.”

Josh flattened his ears and snarled at the insinuation: “We’ll be fine, Jake. Worse comes to worse, we just go where most people are going. Ell Zoh-rillo Lee-on is supposed to be the place to party.”

Jake leaned back and placed his handpaws between himself and Josh, fingers wide open: “Alright, already. I’ve just heard that things happen to furs that wander off the beaten path down here, you know?”

“Hey guys, I think that’s it.” Shawn pointed towards a crowd of furs ahead of them. A burly wolf dressed in a simple black T-shirt and black jeans stood before the crowd. As the group approached, they noticed the bouncer was letting some furs in and sending others away.

“Looks like you have to have the right stuff to get in.” observed Josh.

“It’s supposed to be locals only,” Shawn said before letting out a confident humph. “Don’t sweat it, guys. I’ve got a twenty that says we’re welcome,” he smiled.

The three foxes walked to the end of the line in front of the club entrance and waited. Jake noticed a sign by the door. He read it aloud, doing his best to pronounce the Spanish words: “Soh-la-men-tee, animal-ess sal-vah-gees?”

“What, what?” Said Shawn.

“That sign by the door.” Jake nodded his head upwards. “Not sure what it means.” He reached into his pocket for a cell phone.

“Hrm.” Shawn grunted. “Guess we’ll find out.”

“Guys, we’re up!” Josh said. The three foxes walked towards the bouncer and stopped a few feet in front of him.  The bouncer towered over Shawn by a few inches and stared back at them with his arms crossed in front of his chest. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Shawn broke the silence:

“Hoe-lah, sen-yoor. Pooh-ay-dees in-trare, *uh* nose-oh-teros?”  he stumbled.

The bouncer smirked and flatly said: “No.”

The reached into his jacket pocket for the twenty-dollar bill he had saved for the occasion. He offered it to the bouncer with a wink and a confident: “See.”

The bouncer made no attempt to take the bribe. He nodded his head towards the sign and repeated: “No.”

“Guys, I got this.” Jake said. The other two foxes turned to looked at him, their brows furrowed. “The sign says ‘Wild animals only.’ I’ll bet the bouncer only speaks Feral.”

“Makes sense,” Josh nodded. “hardly anyone uses Feral back home. I haven’t heard it since I was a kit when my great-grandparents would take care of me.”

Shawn raised an eyebrow at the smaller fox. “And I guess you speak Feral.”

“Yup. I sure do. Here goes,” Jake said confidently. He cleared his throat, stepped forward, and began to growl and yeip at him.

The bouncer’s eyebrows raised briefly upon hearing Jake’s use of the Feral language. He nodded his head while listening to the young fox. After Jake had finished speaking, the bouncer replied with growls and yips of his own. Josh and Shawn stood behind Josh with eyes wide open. Shawn tilted his head and cocked an ear towards the two.  He tried to make sense of the animal sounds he was hearing, with little success.

Josh’s ears drooped slightly as the bouncer finished speaking. He let out a short whine and yip. The bouncer responded with a soft growl and bark.

“Let’s go, guys.” Jake frowned. “We’re outta luck.” He turned and began to walk away from the club entrance.

Shawn and Josh simultaneously let out a “Huh?” in response and followed him down the sidewalk.

Josh asked: “What the heck, Jake? Weren’t you speaking Feral just now?”

“I was, fox, but you can’t come in unless you can speak Feral in Spanish.”

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