Gringo Payne

“No comprende.”

Max Payne has had a rough life, like a small noir-flavored pitbull that’s been kicked by the fates far too many times, so he drinks and takes pills that make him extra-talented with firearms. In his third outing, he’s still boozing his life away after the death of his family, when a new job gives him the opportunity to watch another woman die, see his charge murdered, and he’s just found out he was betrayed, used, and set up to be the fall guy, “the American, running around, acting like an action hero, killing lots of people.”

Everyone keeps calling Max a “dumb gringo.” He’s been continuously telling them he doesn’t speak the language. Now, bald, hungover, and upset, Max sits in one of the worst-looking strip clubs I’ve ever seen, seething in his despair, as a new group of toughs harasses him. He snaps curtly, “No comprende, leave me alone,” moments before the gunfire starts.

This puts me back in high school Spanish, where I always felt lost. I had an amazing, kind teacher, but he was too lax with us. We cut class constantly, with his blessing, painted murals on the walls instead of studying, and watched American Pie the last week of school, since he didn’t know about the nude scene. The only things I learned were various curse words, how to ask for food, sex, and where the bathroom was. It’s no wonder I tried to get out of it in college when they informed me I’d have to start with the intermediate Spanish course. I adored that teacher, but I wish I had learned more. My poor eyesight makes it hard for me to read subtitles, but these are in Portuguese anyway, for that lost and confused in Spanish class immersion Max Payne 3 nails.

By Stephen Wilds

One who writes for various entities (Looper, Polygon, PC Gamer, Playboy), waking up late in the day to struggle with commas, broken controllers, and nightmares of Resident Evil, when he's not contemplating random facts about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or wondering what Darkwing Duck is up to these days. Find him on Twitter @StephenWilds

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