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Wednesday, May 26th "First communion report; Humor and Television"

I learned a little about first comuniones in Seville on Sunday. Around 10:30am we made our way down to a church close by in Santa Catalina and gathered with friends and family to watch a neighbor's daughter take part with 8 other children in the ceremonies, or perhaps rite os passage. We watched several nervous children read aloud and practiced plenty of standing and sitting. The first one to speak was perhaps the best - speaking mere centimeters from the microphone so loud you could see many in the crowd cover their ears. The "sound guys" don't do any adjusting during these events. He also spoke at a rate so quick it was impossible to understand him. Poor little guy. After causing most of us to go deaf for the rest of the ceremony (I was thankful) we listened to several others speak with short breaks of awful music. I also learned there are mean old ladies in church in Spain, too. One who guarded the door did her best to shuffle anyone who entered to the back (where you could see nothing) or out the door. No standing, not for even a second, as you walked in. No getting your bearings or even waiting as the rest of your group came inside. She was hell bent on using her power - "This is not a happy event. It's time to order people around!". After 20 minutes of watching her work I decided to leave with many other people.

The convite, or reception afterwards was held in the outskirts of the Seville in the same venue where my sister's wedding reception was some 12 years ago. What once was a small, pueblo-like neighborhood is now the site of 8 high-rise apartment complexes under construction. Other than that the complex is the same - it's designed for catered events such as this and includes outdoor gardens as well as formal dining rooms and terrazas for celebrations. As with any formal celebration (and informal ones, too) we had appetizers and drinks, then sat down to a three course meal including red and white wine, as well as champagne. Then dessert, coffee and of course a copa. There was a clown in there somewhere who entertained the kids. It was all a blur at the end and I stopped remembering as I became quite ill. Not from drinking but from a flu or some kind of bug I had for 4 days.

Humor is one of the last things you "get" when you live in a foreign country. Certainly gags and more physical humor are easier to understand, but one can become frustrated sitting around a table of Spanish friends telling joke after joke which flies right over one's head. I still have those moments - humor is filled with cultural nuances and many times a play on words. The history and group dynamic also play an important part. It works this way in almost any part of the world. While my friends from other regions of the U.S. will likely understand most of my humor there are times when I can easily "lose them". A joke about people who live in the town next to us, an event from 15 years ago only me and my high school friends could know about, etc. can turn people away. Recently, though, I've enjoyed that my time in Seville is starting to sink in. The little things start to add up: crappy music on the radio, bad news stories, illegal street vendors, gossip talk shows, Operation Triunfo, my visits to the barber, Ratones Colorao with Jesus Quintero, UPA, the Royal Wedding, tourists and myself speaking bad Spanish and more have given me a base of what I like to call "cultural trash" with which to understand a lot of humor. This base comes together nicely for Moranquissimo, a show comprised of skits from two local comedians. They know Sevilla and Andalucia well and finally I can say I understand some very regional humor. It's something that just takes time, I guess.