One thing I’ve learned since moving to Miami is…..I need to learn Spanish.
The local community college, had a Saturday class being offered this summer, “Beginner’s Conversational Spanish.” Great! Sign me up. That’s exactly what I need.
Now, I will be able to make small talk in elevators, listen in on conversations when they think I don’t know what they’re saying and I can tell the Urgent Care to stop leaving messages for Juan….as they only leave messages in Spanish. On my work cell phone no less. I don’t know Juan. How do I know what they’re calling about? I had to ask one of my coworkers listen to the message, which I knew obviously it wasn’t for me. It was in Spanish – duh.
Today was the day for my first Spanish class.
I was excited and ready to get going. I logged the community college’s address into my GPS and headed out the door. Of course, I had a general idea of where I was going. Down the highway a couple of exits and then head West-ish. When I got off the highway and was stopped at the first light, I should have trusted my gut and pulled a u-turn. There was a vaguely familiar looking man sitting on the side of the road playing music. On a 5 gallon plastic bucket. For money. He had a mustache like Cheech Marin. Had I been quick enough, I would have snapped his photo as he looked like someone I used to work with years ago. Enormously large bushy mustache….all you can see on the face…..stache and more stache.
Anyhow, I made my turn and quickly realized this was not the best neighborhood to be driving through. I was expecting a scene out of West Side Story to erupt at any moment. As I drove, I continued to keep my eyes open for unauthorized drag races to cross my path. After a little research, I found that this town in particular had the highest crime rate in America in 2004. Dear Lord, keep your eyes on the road and let’s just keep going forward. I should have turned around at that light back there.
The ridiculous GPS, which sometimes sends me in circles. Literally:
Didn’t bother to tell me to Turn Right…..and I zipped right past the college.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.
I pull into the first tiny little parking area. There is a LAKE of water covering three spots. Being I am now living in Florida, my footwear is not suitable to navigate this wading pool. I drive to the end only to realize the last open spot is clearly marked (with a Pictionary sign) for people with babies and strollers. Crap. I head out of the parking area and a lady is blocking the exit, trying to decide whether or not to turn in. She finally decides to give it a try and turns past me towards the pool. As I head down the road to the next parking lot I see she zipped into the people with strollers spot and I slow down to see if she has any babies with her.
That would be a big NO.
I give her a disapproving glare and continue on my way. Seriously, parents have it rough enough and now they can get this one little break in life. Uneducated girl is going to take one of their spots because she’s too lazy to walk from the next lot over. I hope you get explosive diarrhea in rush hour traffic… (This is my standard curse.) Yes, apparently she is uneducated. Even if English isn’t her first language the giant picture of a stroller should be a dead give away. My guess is she doesn’t do well in Pictionary or Charade games.
After I get my spot, I head towards building Numeral Uno! I am a few minutes late and make my way to the second floor to the assigned classroom. Yahoo….so excited.
I open the door and the instructor first greets me with a “bon jour!” Followed quickly by a “buenos dias.” I mutter a quick “hola” while she explains they were just talking about the French language as she teaches both. Whatever. I grab the first seat I see, right by the front door. As I go to sit down I look at the girl a few seats back.
It’s the STROLLER LADY!
Great. A sign of things to come. Another indication I should have turned around at that light with Mr. Mustache.
Suddenly the instructor is addressing me. All I catch is, “Giruod jab, whiuyt?”
The only thing I can say is, “Donna.” I assume she’s asking for my name.
Then she says, “Luiy weng tldiwl uls?”
My response: blink blink blink blink.
Again she says, “Luiy weng tldiwl uls?”
Again my response: blink blink blink blink. For good measure I shake my head NO.
An older gentleman in the class yells out, “last name.”
Oh! Powell. Donna Powell.
She goes back to the question at hand and begins to discuss how things will be listed on the immigration form, regarding your name. Immigration form? What the hell? This is supposed to be Beginner’s Conversational Spanish, not how to fill out your immigration forms. Well this is strange. Next up, the instructor, whose name I have not a clue, starts to talk about something that sounds suspiciously like, “come here lama.” NO clue. I have not one bit of an idea what this woman is saying. It continues as she points to the board, each time with a different stress accent. “COME here lama.” “Come HERE lama.” “Come here LAMA.” She explains in English something about using the “tu” when speaking with small children and the “utes” when speaking to adults. “Come here lama.”
By this time I start looking around the room to see if there might actually be a lama somewhere. Here a lama. There a lama. Everywhere a lama lama.
Guess what? No lama. Damn.
The instructor continues with the lesson: “Oulkjda jldoa pencil a’kdao kluou! Hwid, wolwd jweoub aoul? Taden pencil aera oueab weraouib alkpie. Right? So then, aoiudf’ag jlareio aoiejang aliduar ieialgob alkubow.” Now I’m looking around to see what everyone else is doing. Nobody has a notebook out…not even a pencil. Even the instructor only has a cell phone and cup of coffee on the desk. Should I ask if I am in the right class? Is anyone else dazed and confused or are they getting it? One guy is sitting there smiling like this is the biggest punch line he’s ever heard. Really? I am so screwed.
Well, it’s still only the first few minutes of class, maybe she’s going to start explaining whatever she’s saying in a minute.
Cue the hourglass timer…..any minute now we’ll be speaking in English. Any moment. Wait for it. One minute.
“Taljgljb kjadaljgio alkjro? Waoiudgh lkjdfopig qjdagji adlgajgoiuej akfji? Haidoug lkaj it. The plural of the uya aor, aoiuf alkjb as it is in English. Veriu aloiu akdj polg akjb. You want to aenbo agoiub and then in the French language it is pronounced ela aoub akuouv alouf vous. Taerib aljboiue jaoe kjgi alkjir; buanb aiuelg which is what?”
Which is don’t make eye contact cause I have no clue what you’re saying and I’m pretty damn sure it’s not English. La la la chicken.
“Bof lb iead, akjoie afoinl aulz ojghs oaurl and always make sure you ahbie pbiael aieug adiwow. Now, of course sometimes bagowie wobbloiu aty byru xkiao. Zcait abiuet itub lama aeiu?”
This is getting really, really awkward. Now it’s obvious she’s asking questions to the class. I’ve got nothing. The suck thing is I’m sitting in the front row. Prime target for being called on. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. No sense in trying to fake tying my shoes. First, because I’m in the front row and second because I’m wearing slip ons. Total failure. Whatever happens don’t make eye contact.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
It’s dawning on me that apparently, you need a working understanding of the Spanish language for this “BEGINNER’S” class. Well had it been a requirement, do you think I would have signed up for this hell? I have no clue what this woman is saying. Yatta, yatta, yatta SHE, yatta, yatta, yatta what do you call that? Yatta, yatta, yatta, yatta and then you yatta yatta yatta lama.
How the hell do I get out of this? I better do it quickly before we partner up for role playing and conversations. Oh my god, the horror of that thought. As soon as she turns her back to erase the board I am out of here.
Now she’s talking about pronouns and tenses. She’s asking questions and don’t you know it, STROLLER LADY is the only one answering. I don’t want to be rude and leap up from my desk and bolt to the door, but I know it’s only a matter of time before we have to pair up. What is this Top Twenty Spanish Pronoun Questions? Let’s get on with it. Turn around. Turn around.
Honestly, I shouldn’t worry about being rude and walking out. After all she’s the one speaking in another language that I don’t understand. Geez. That’s rude. Miss Manners would not be impressed.
I casually take out my cell phone to check the time. I have only been here 20 minutes. Well guess what. Time is up. Gotta go. Oh yeah, did you hear that? Sounded like a fire alarm. Gotta run. I casually loop my hand bag over my wrist and pick up my book bag off the floor. The instructor starts to reach for the eraser and I’m up and out of my seat faster than a naked man being bit by fire ants on the yin-yang.. As I swim through the air to get to the door I hear her say:
“Yzgibb aoiuearlj olkg iwkg aiublka laopiw? Zkie gubja….”
Don’t turn back, that could have been directed to me…..for crying out loud, this is an episode mix between Fear Factor, Whose Line is it Anyways and Hidden Camera. I close the door….on what I think is mid-sentence and then breathe a sigh of relief, wipe the sweat off my upper lip and think to myself: Gotta go. The lama called……and it said SAVE YOURSELF!