Monday, June 08, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Five

Wow it’s been a long time since I put myself under the microscope. I think that’s because I’ve entered the middle school years, which feels mostly downhill ‘til I get out of high school. But since I can’t exactly skip past seven years of life, I’m back to it. This week I’ll be posting five chapters. So if you don’t like reading about the unimportant details of my childhood, you’ll probably want to wait and come back next week.

For those of you who are still here, I’m gonna ease back into things today. Back in 24 I mentioned that I had started middle school at Woodrow Wilson. If you’d like a refresher, then click here. Suffice it to say, I hated it there.

During my time at Woodrow, I was able to gain exposure to a foreign language. A lot of folks had to wait until high school to begin Spanish, but I got to start in sixth grade. I say “got to” like it was some kind of privilege. I guess, looking back, I should have treated it as such. If I had, maybe I’d be able to speak the language fluently to this day.

Our teacher was a crazy lady named Mrs. Carper. But in class, we had to call her Señora Carper. Actually, outside of class we had to call her that as well. It’s not that she was actually crazy. Maybe eccentric is a better word. But I always assumed that eccentric was used to describe wealthy people. Not too many wealthy people teaching Spanish to sixth graders.

Aside from learning the Spanish alphabet, the numbers, the days of the week, etc. we got to watch movies in Spanish. These weren’t foreign films where the actors spoke Spanish, no. These were American films that were dubbed in Spanish. Two that I distinctly remember seeing were Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I remember that, during these viewings, my friend Chad and I would sit in the back of the class and make up the dialogue as we went along. As we were only middle school students, a fluent understanding of the voice-over actors was beyond us.

Another tradition that Carper liked to force upon us was the singing of the Christmas carols… That’s right… en Español. I didn’t so much mind sitting in the classroom year after year and going over the Xeroxed pages of translated carols. What got to me was the forced marching through the halls of Woodrow Wilson, singing at the tops of our lungs. Oh, the humiliations. No me gusta.

So let’s think about all the years I spent learning Spanish. Three years in middle school, plus two in high school. But since I didn’t take the advanced placement exam in high school, I was forced to relive two years of it in college, just so I could get my degree. Anyone need help with the math? That’s seven.

Seven full years of Spanish and I can barely speak a word of it. Maybe if I were to go and spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country I’d have no choice but to learn and I’d be able to pick it up quickly. So far though, I’m not having any luck when all I’m surrounded by are English speakers.

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