Why I Am Monolingual: The Woe Goes On Forever And The Story Finally EndsPosted: August 27, 2010
This is the last of a three post series that starts here.
I was off to a dreadful start with my Italian teacher. The spectacular plan I concocted in Junior High started withering in the first weeks of High School.
A Moment Of Fairness, If You Please
It became obvious after the unavoidable humiliation incident on the first day of class that I was not the teacher’s favorite. I might have become a favorite if I’d rekindled my hidden knowledge of Italian. That didn’t happen. I will admit that I lacked something as a foreign language student.
That missing something, which I will call initiative, did nothing to endear me to the teacher.
The Plan Must Go On
Eventually, the day the plan was to be deployed arrived. I knew from my grades that I would not perform like a native speaker. But I still held the fantasy that I knew enough to decipher what my relatives were saying.
Italian conversation eluded me, just like before. As I sat there listening, I took inventory of the phrases I actually knew in Italian. There were three:
- Where is the Post Office?
- Here is the Bathroom.
- Ciao, Fulvia.
Neither of the first two applied to the situation. Nor were any girls named Fulvia there for me to greet. The moment I had envisioned of revealing my bilingual ability came and went without me saying a word. The Plan died right there on the Thanksgiving dinner table, between the turkey and the ravioli.
That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger *
Things never improved between the teacher and I over the three years we spent together. I couldn’t get out of her class, she couldn’t get rid of me. My parents went to parent-teacher conference day for three years. Six teachers would tell them I was a nice kid, one would tell them they’d spawned the anti-Christ.
I didn’t do much to endear myself to her. I retaliated every time she blamed me for something I didn’t do. I’ll spare you the details and just say that it got ugly and never got better.
So what was the final score in the end? Well, I certainly don’t speak Italian. I did learn that…
…sometimes the usual suspect is not guilty.
…I get along with most people. Most.
…sometimes it might be better to spend the next three years pretending to be hearing impaired than to answer a simple question.