Wednesday, February 09, 2005

even the words they fail me

Need I disclose what was playing on the radio this morning? Note to the supposedly alternative station in my beloved city- for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, stop playing the Killers every fifteen minutes. Not just because I am going to get a ticket for speeding if you keep it up, but also so that I do not grow to hate a band I once thought was great.

I suspect any reader of my blog is going to see the following quote quite often over the next few months:
"He nice, the Jesus. He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."
Taken out of context, that must seem quite strange. It's from Me Talk Pretty One Day, in which David Sedaris relates his experiences in French class as he and his classmates desperately attempt to describe the meaning of Easter. If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for? It will take approximately 4-5 hours to read, and there will be much laughter of the side-splitting variety in the course of your adventure.

Anyway, I mention the quote because Spanish lessons are going to have a similar comical quality to them. Unlike Sedaris' class, mine is extremely tame, and very few people attempt to say imaginative things. Doesn't matter, class still had its moments. The whole room seemed to salivate the moment my teacher held up a picture of Michael Jackson- "blanca!" (White), "delgado!" (thin), "loco!" (crazy), "raro!" (weird), "puta!" That last one was followed by an awkward silence, and me shaking my head at the supposed stud-wannabe who threw that jibe in there. Dude, the purpose of this class is not to teach you how to curse people out en espanol. The teacher seemed genuinely chagrined, but continued on, ignoring stud-wannabe.

At one point, we were asked to get up, walk around and introduce ourselves to each other. This was worse than walking up to random strangers in a bar:
    Person A: Hola, como esta?
    Person B: (long pause) Uh... bien.... y tu?
    Person A: Muy bien... uh... como te llamas? (if you're lucky. most of the time, I got como te llamo, or como me llamo, or como me llamas)
    Person B: Me llamo _____. (another awkward pause) Uh... mucho gusto.
    Person A: Uh... uh... el gusto es mio.
At that point, the two people regard each other for a long while, shrug, smile with their hands thrown up helplessly, and continue on their way. Hey, though I'm making fun of them, don't assume I was any better. I found it frustrating, because once you're through the pleasantries, you want to say more, but can't figure out how to say it. All I can say is, now I know how three-year olds feel. And why I find them annoying.

Random moment in class: during a break, an effing caucasian dude starts chatting with me about my Indian-ness, and then starts bugging me about going to temple... and why don't I go, he goes, it's great! I'm thinking to myself, mothereffer, I can't believe this effing viejo gringo is giving me a guilt trip about going to temple. Back off!

By the end of class, if I can learn how to communicate in the basics, and translate this without the use of a Spanish-English dictionary, mission accomplished:
Puedo escribir los versos mas trestes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella tambien me quiso

- Neruda
Swoon. And ouch. Neruda is great if you're looking to come undone, incidentally. He's like the anti-Sedaris.

No comments: