Lucia calls me over to her desk and asks, “How do you say ‘paja’ in English?”
“Paja” means masturbation.
“Uhh…uhh…” I say.
Maybe I’d misheard her. No 12 year old girl would politely ask me how to say “masturbation” and then write it in a school assignment. Maybe she’d said another word. Maybe she’d said “pija.”
“What word?” I ask her.
“Paja,” she says again, and looks me right in the eye.
Spaniards are more open about sex and sexuality. The school I work at in Spain has three separate paintings of naked women on the walls. This is one of them:
My middle school English teacher wouldn’t let us watch the kissing scenes in Romeo and Juliet.
So maybe this is a cultural thing, and I certainly don’t want to shame her out of asking questions. But I also really don’t want to answer this question.
Fortunately I’m the language assistant and not the language teacher. So I say, “I don’t know. Ask the teacher,” and I walk away.
Lucia repeats her question to the teacher who writes the word “straw” on the board.
I grab an English-Spanish dictionary off another student’s desk, and sure enough-
Who the hell came up with that system?