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Monday, August 02, 2004  

¿Que the Hell Pasa? (Parte Cinco)

It's quite common for people to resolve to teach themselves a language and then completely drop it after a few weeks, right? I haven't cracked my Berlitz book in months (three, to be exact), but I can take comfort in the fact that my Spanish is still better than that of Mirna on The Amazing Race. I've been to Mexico twice, and I've never had to bust out the non-phrase "¿Posibla boat stopay?" to a local. But then, I'm blessed with acute powers of observation that allowed me to intuit the meaning of the world "ALTO" on the big, red, octagonal sign at the exit from the airport parking lot.

And that was well before I picked up the tools I mastered in ¿Que the Hell Pasa Partes Uno, Dos, Tres, and Quatro.

But when it comes to second languages, everyone says use it or lose it. So maybe it's time to get back into the course. We join Maria, the world's unhappiest secretary, in scene 10.

The school's director, Mr. Lopez, summons Maria into his office with the letter she typed for Mr. Johnson. Maria says twice that she's coming right away. Note to Maria: if you have time to say "right away" twice, "right away" isn't technically happening.

"Thanks for the letter, Maria!" Mr. Lopez chirps. Maria sighs that it's nothing. In fact, it's a photocopy. This is an audio-only program, so we can't see that Mr. Lopez is reading the letter upside down. "It's for the computer," Mr. Lopez announces. I have no idea what that means, but Mr. Lopez's computer spews forth a series of random, rapid-fire beeps that indicates that he picked it up on the set of a 1970's sci-fi television show.

This is when Mr. Garcia busts in. He still works here?

"Maria, is my student here?" He demands. Maria's like, "What?" Mr. Garcia says, "Yes, yes, my student. Pedro Aragon. Is he with you?"

So it sounds like Mr. Garcia's class size peaked years ago, back when Pedro was still a tot. Now his student load consists, in its entirety, of Pedro. Hmmm.

Mr. Garcia, alarmed at the apparent loss of his meal ticket, starts shaking down Mr. Lopez for clues as to Pedro's whereabouts. Here's a theory, Mr. Garcia. Maybe Pedro got tired of being your hostage and made a dash for the fence. Ever think of that?

Alas, it is not to be, for there is a knock at the door. Mr. Lopez dispatches Maria to open it, because his damn legs are broken or something, and in pops Pedro, complete with a jaunty music cue and a pleasant "Good day! I am here!"

"At last," sighs Mr. Garcia. Hey, maybe Pedro would have been here sooner if he hadn't had to check every room in the "school" before finally figuring out that everyone's holed up in Mr. Lopez's office for no reason, Mr. Garcia.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Garcia," says Pedro. "My watch stopped."

Okay, I'm beginning to detect a somewhat offensive pattern here. I didn't say anything when Maria was an hour and ten minutes late for work back in scenes 2 through 4, but now I'm beginning to suspect that when Berlitz claims that its courses teach "cultural understanding," they really mean "insulting stereotypes." So now I know a couple of different ways to be late in Spanish. You suppose Berlitz could also teach me to haggle in Yiddish, surrender in French, and deal Blackjack in Ojibwe?

I'm sorry, I'm too upset to continue. I'll try and get back to scene eleven sometime in the next month or so. But who knows, it might be late.

Today's best search phrase: "Handmade homemade pussies." Well, that's disturbing. Try to be less redundant, okay?

posted by M. Giant 9:04 PM 0 comments


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