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Monday, September 20, 2004  

¿Que the Hell Pasa? (Parte Seis)

I kind of had the idea that once I was working at home, I'd have a lot more time to do stuff like practice my Spanish. Maybe relearn what I've forgotten in the past several months. But as it turns out, working at home finds me spending a lot of time, well, working.

Which is good. I'm not complaining. Not when there are other things to complain about, like the surreally absurd conversational exchanges in my Spanish textbook. I've covered some of these in Partes Uno, Dos, Tres, Quatro, and Cinco, of course, but now things are going to get really weird.

As you may recall from previous lessons, Pedro is now an adult. Which worried me a little. As you recall, the whole point of Pedro was to learn Spanish the way a child does. How am I to keep up, now that Pedro has undergone a decade and change of intensive tutelage by Mr. Garcia? Yes he's still locked in that dysfunctional relationship with his lifelong teacher. But there is hope. As we join them for Scene 11, Mr. Garcia appears to have buckled down and begun to take his responsibilities as a teacher seriously. Maybe he watched a couple of episodes of Boston Public.

"Pedro…Are you ready?" he asks. Pedro is.

"Do you have your pen?" he asks. Pedro has it right here.

"Then, to begin, an exercise. Write this: 'I am in my house.'" He then asks Pedro to conjugate using other pronouns. Pedro's up for it: "She is in her house. He is in his house. You are in your house." Mr. Garcia congratulates him heartily.

Obviously, Pedro's been hitting the books pretty hard the past fifteen years.

Mr. Garcia comes right back at him with plurals: "'We are in our houses.'" And now Pedro must conjugate using the plural third and second person pronouns: "Those guys, those women, and y'all." Which looks weird in English, but Spanish actually does have plural pronouns.

Which, believe it or not, is news to Pedro. "Y'all?" he responds in bafflement, as if he's never heard it before. Or "youse," for that matter. But Mr. Garcia is there to clarify it for him. "You, you, and you: y'all." Pedro seems to accept this.

My question is, what the hell has Mr. Garcia been "teaching" him all this time?

We'll have to return to that question later, because now Pedro has slipped his leash and is bugging Maria the secretary again.

"Maria," he queries, "that machine is for photocopying document, right?"


"And this is a computer, right?"

Maria agrees, suppressing the urge to defenestrate him. Instead, she gives him a little demonstration on how you type on the computer just like you would on a typewriter.

I see. So now we're no longer learning Spanish the way a child does. We're learning Spanish the way a child who has had some sort of catastrophic head injury and has spent the past fifteen years in a coma does. If this is an important distinction, nobody at Berlitz seems to think so.

There's always another possibility. It is conceivable that Maria got so tired of interruptions from the school's one student that she lost patience with him and locked him in the boiler room all this time, occasionally dropping food to him down the garbage chute. I can't decide whether I find that more or less disturbing than the other option, which is that Mr. Garcia clubbed him so vigorously and repeatedly about the head and shoulders that he's spent the past decade and a half getting fluid drained from inside his skull twice a day.

Whatever the case, nobody's talking about it. It's like a big elephant in the room, wearing a sombrero and watching Univision at top volume. We can only hope that future scenes will answer these questions and more. They won't, of course, which is why we can only hope.

Today's best search phrase: "Why don't squirrels need haircuts." Well, someone had better rock me to sleep tonight.

posted by M. Giant 9:08 PM 7 comments


I love this series. I don't know why but everytime I've read it I end up laughing so hard it hurts, which was fine when I was in an office by myself but not so much now.

I think it's because I used to teach English as a Second Language and had those same thoughts when doing courses or having to make those tapes/dialogues myself.

Thanks M.Giant!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 21, 2004 at 12:25 AM  

Ah Pedro, we meet again. I think Pedro is my favorite recurring character in your blog. Well, except for Trash. and the cats. But still, one of my favorites.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 21, 2004 at 7:00 AM  

Oh, I love these stories, as well. M. Giant, yer too funny.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 21, 2004 at 11:35 AM  

"Defenestrate" is such a great word. I try to work it into essay questions on exams just to confuse the profs.

By Blogger CanadaDave, at September 21, 2004 at 5:30 PM  

For some reason your technical (and legally sufficient)description of Pedro's being clubbed "about the head and shoulders" cracks me up. Not that assault is funny, but, yeah.
Color me jaded,

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 21, 2004 at 5:54 PM  

I don't understand -- what is this all about?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 23, 2004 at 4:54 PM  

MG maybe had to chase Strat away from something dangerous, so parts I through V, while mentioned, were not presented as links... however if you look back a ways, this will make more sense. It's the sixth in an ongoing series about the Berlitz(tm) language tapes MG is using to study up on the Spanish language. He's telling us about them in terms of the content and presentation of the little story they use as they introduce Spanish words and phrases.

Lawre: is "about" meant in the sense of "in the approximate region of" the head and neck, or is it more like "upon," simply stated in Legalese?

See, we're reaching out across barriers here. Yay.

(Hey, if we reach out to OnStar, and tell them there's no HumpBlog this week, and we're worried for M. Giant, I wonder what they'd say?)


By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 24, 2004 at 6:44 AM  

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