For two years in high school I won the trophy for best student in French. Everyone thought I parle-d the Francais just tres fantastically. I saw my future clearly: hopping from European country to European country to Asian country, charming the fine foreign folks in their native tongues and stealing hearts where-ever I go.
The problem – I soon discovered – was that up to that point, we’d only just studied grammar and the written word. When my third year of French rolled up on me, the trophy disappeared along with my hopes and dreams, and I saw my new future clearly: I was going to be kidnapped and trafficked to an unknown world – probably South America – where I’d be kept in the forests of Brazil, surrounded by people I would not understand and who made no effort to understand me.
See, I don’t have ears. I mean, I have physical ears, but auditoraly they’re useless. I mean, I can hear, but I can’t hear. You know wha’m saying?
So when my darling French teacher started speaking French with us and expecting responses, my marks went from I’m-moving-to-France to I-might-have-to-move-to-that-Tom-Hanks-island. I couldn’t make out anything she was saying. So I could never respond.
I felt isolated and stupid.
Not long after that I dropped French. I can still read a little itty bit, but whenever I hear people conversing in Napoleon’s tongue, I just see people pulling their mouths in a pretty manner, but it all sounds like je je je je je….
When I studied law, Latin was my jam, baby. Why? Coz no-one speaks Latin anymore! It’s a reading language. At least here where I operate. So I never had to suffer the embarrassment brought on by that blank expression that says: huh?
But of course I’m from a country I love and a country with 11 official langauges. And I only speak two. This is unacceptable. So a week ago I packed my bags and set off on a journey of self-loathing and frustration: I am learning a third language.
Lord help me.
But I’m determined. Okay fine, I’m desperate. Which is why I’ve purchased a set of CD’s, four books and a series of more YouTube videos than my wifi account can handle. I’ve lined up my friends who speak this language to serve my every need. If I send you a line at 3am, I want a voice note back with perfect pronounciation.
That’s right. Nothing will stop me, not even reason.
But first…a chococino…mais non….du vin!