I consider myself a fairly intellectual person (someone has to), and had always put my early retirement from school down to just not wanting to be there. Similarly I had put my inability to excel at school down to just not being interested. I still believe this to be the case, however my recent foray into learning Spanish has shown me there is another reason. I don’t play well with others, and by others, I mostly mean teachers.
When you’re growing up, the most a kid is expected to deal with is school, a bit of bullying, and bad timing of the reproductive organs. This is however far from the norm nowadays, and so it was for me. Life was tough growing up (please keep your tissues in your pocket), and moving around along with all the other “stuff”, meant that schoolwork, teachers, and authority in general seemed ridiculous to me.
Going to school and being told when to take a piss, where I could have my lunch, to join in a chorus of “Good morning Mrs Blah Blah”, and all the other seemingly moronic drone like activities I was made to endure, did not sit well, and so I reacted in a number of ways, one was by giving up on the education system and anything which didn’t involve getting stoned.
Of course things have changed a bit, I actually volunteered to be taught this time, and I actually wanted to learn Spanish (as opposed to the pointless things we are often taught in school). I also had the option to leave whenever I wanted, but I didn’t.
For a total of 4 days, I gritted my teeth, reminded myself that I didn’t need to be frustrated because it didn’t matter how I did (an attitude severely lacking in schools), and actually made an effort. Unfortunately, effort only gets you so far, and of course my level of effort, has seen a sharp decline since about the age of twelve.
El Spanish Lessons
So it was I found myself sitting in a classroom with a teacher who’s monotone speech and heavy eyelids suggested that, just maybe, my success was not of utmost importance to her. Don’t get me wrong, she was nice enough, I just felt like maybe I was interupting her siesta, like all the time.
Then she started the lesson, the first 10 minutes or so were tame enough, buenos dias, Buenos tades, buenos noches (good morning, afternoon and evening), sweet I thought, lets just paddle around the shallow end for awhile, get a hang of things, and then she said something ridiculous like,
“Now we are doing irregular verbs“.
Irregular what now? Hold on a second, this is a beginners course right? I don’t even know what an irregular verb is in english. Almost a 100% of the english I know comes from reading a lot and speaking a little. Remember, I didn’t pay attention in school.
So here I am, having irregular verbs, along with other mystery language do’s and dont’s, explained to me in Spanish. As you can imagine, it did not take long for me to fall behind. At the end of the first day I was kind of like,
“Yeah it’s tough, but I think I was getting it at the end there.”
Then the second day hit and I was like,
“What the fuck?”
It wasn’t long before the teacher dubbed me her bebe (another way of saying el stupido), and I found myself reciting like a parrot without any understanding of what was going on. That is just about when the frustration set in, a good old trip down memory lane. The warm flow of blood to the skin, the lowered lip, the surging thoughts of “screw this” and “what a shit teacher” bubbling to the surface, hidden behind a forced smile and LOTS of sarcasm.
That is when I managed to do what I never had as a kid, I just let it go, and had fun, the sarcasm became less biting and more self deprecating (my favourite kind of humour, I think it makes me endearing). Really the teacher wasn’t great, but she wasn’t bad, Sarah seemed to be getting more of the gobledie goop coming out of our half asleep mouth than me. So really, the problem could only lie with one person.
I am still however trying to figure out who that person is.
And so it came to our last day, it is fair to say that at this point I, along with my teacher, had given up on me and accepted that perhaps I should stick to phrases and slow loudly spoken english words, actually pretty similar to my school days, the giving up on me part that is.
But, I like learning?
The thing about this though, is that I love to learn, I learn about all things computer related, I learn a bit of theoretical physics and cosmology (the parts that don’t involve much math), and almost every day I learn something ridiculously small that I wish I knew sooner.
Like if I use the edges of my hand to wipe the water off my skin after a shower, the whole drying process becomes quicker, easier, and leaves the towel in a much dryer state.
Or like the time I realized that if I drank at least a glass of water a day it stopped the burning when I urinated.
Or when I realized that carrying wet wipes around is a great way to minimize chaffing (I know what your thinking, what a catch right, but hey, genius comes in all guises).
And then there was that time I found out that when you stop giving a shit what people think, life becomes a hell of lot easier, hence why all my clothes have paint splats and tears, my unruly Amish beard rarely gets a trim, and why pyjamas are now acceptable evening wear when heading out to the the local cafe.
Basically, I love to learn new things, but I love to learn the things I want to learn, when I want to learn them, and I want to be able to stop learning them, when I no longer feel like, well, learning, them.
So were Spanish lessons a complete waste of time, hell no, we met some nice people in the class, we cracked a few jokes, it made me appreciate not having to go to an office or school. And to top it off, I learned a few things, like book (libro), or lunch (lunch), or Bano (bathroom).
I even learned how to say “Mi casa es su casa” (no shit, I got to use it in a lesson), and who knows when that might come in handy. I also learned that a lot of Spanish words are just the English ones with an “o” or “a” on the end, which means if I’m really stuck I can say something like,
“Mi es bustingo for a pissa, whereo es el crappero?”, and possibly not end up offending someone.