Suddenly, I was embarrassed for myself. Born to immigrant Filipino parents, brought up on kare-kare, sinigang and bangus, I can watch Tagalog videos without subtitles, take orders from my grandmother, laugh at any Tagalog joke. But I can’t speak it. The only complete sentences in Tagalog that easily roll off my tongue are sappy lyrics memorized from Lea Salonga pop songs. Plus I know a lot of individual words, I tried to be hopeful, but since I don’t know how to conjugate them, they are about as conversationally useful as a drawer-full of socks without partners.
“I only speak English,” I admitted.
The date went from hot to uncomfortable pretty fast. The food didn’t taste as good. I was uncharacteristically not as excited about dessert. It was hard to look at him.