Monday, February 16, 2009
DRESDEN, DENMARK AND OTHER JACKASSERY
My level of France retardation spiked this past week with a series of events that left me googling "loss of brain cells"....
French class, take 3.
After two disappointing rounds at Alliance Francaise last year, I was able to sign up for super cheap French classes through the mairie. I have learned not to cheat my way through placement tests and I showed up the first day to learn that after a year in Paris, I am now qualified for level 2. YES! I can say all sorts of things now but my major problem remains...I still don't understand one word anyone says to me. I am 100% convinced now that I am either an asshole who doesn't listen or I actually do have a learning disability. My class is held in an elementary school and I felt the butterflies as I squeezed myself into the tiny, tiny desk and looked around at the 30 other adults. I fought a sudden urge to yell "CAN WE ALL GET THIS OVER WITH!!? MY NAME IS DANA AND I JUST WANT YOU PEOPLE TO LIKE ME, OOOKAAAY??!!" I add "Tourette's" to my internal "to google" list and I wondered if anyone else is afflicted with childhood holdover anxiety disorder.
Our first lesson is to turn to our neighbor and interview them. Where he/she is from, what they do, how long they have been here, etc. After your neighbor interviews you, you are to present each other to the rest of the class. OK, no sweat, I think. I turn to my neighbor....Jonas.
Where are you from?
I write DENMARK.
Can you spell that, please?
OH! DRESDEN, DENMARK I carefully write.
24? No, 26 he corrects.
Oh, right. I knew that one. (Note to self: brush up on numbers 1-10)
OK. What do you do?
Physicien, he says.
DOCTOR, I write. Wow, they must have really super advanced med school in Denmark, I think. OH those Danish! So efficient and so very smart too!
We finish our interview and the teacher begins calling out names to present. I smile as my name is called and stand proudly to announce my new neighbor. I got this in the baaaag. My very first words to the class, I am ready to make an animated and friendly first impression...
"I present to you....JONAS! (I gesture grandly to him). Jonas is a DOCTOR from DRESDEN, DENMARK!"
Silence. Blink. Blink. Something is clearly wrong as I look around at the puzzled faces. My teacher asks me to repeat, please?
"Jonas is uh.....a doctor....from.....Dresden...Denmark...he is Danish..." Jonas taps my leg and quietly and politely informs me he is actually a physicist from Germany. I feel the blood drain as I search wildly for something to say, in French, something...ANYTHING to save me from this horrible display of inadequacy. I try and muster my shattered self confidence.
"Ha....ha...uh...just now...what FUNNY! I think he say Denmark....I hear Dresden...what JOKE...ha...ha...it is reason I am here!"
I awkwardly sit down and concentrate on making my face turn back to white from purple. I can't even look at Jonas, the physicist from Germany. Or the rest of class for that matter. I pray someone else will make a similar mistake..."Maria is a FISHERMAN from CANADA!"...."Antonio is an ASTRONAUT from KOREA!"....aaaanything.
But no one does.
I have been searching for a good lotion for my winter dry skin. After carefully scouring the shelves at the pharmacy, I see a picture of a baby on a giant jumbo size bottle. OH! BABY lotion, perfect! After slathering this on my body every night for two weeks, I notice my skin is getting progressively red and bumpy, I frequently wake up in the night itching and I am developing some sort of skin condition on my feet. I take a closer look at the bottle again and realize there is actually an English translation on the back.
I have been slathering myself in soap for two weeks wondering why I am itching and why my morning showers are particularly frothy.
It's because it is SOAP.
I made some Vietnamese food yesterday. Chopping the hot pepper for the sauce, my nose itched and while scratching it, I accidentally shoved a bunch of hot pepper seeds up my nose. The fiery burning quickly spread from my nose to my throat and I spent the next hour making "freaked out cat with a fur ball stuck in throat" gagging sounds, praying to god that the neighbors weren't home.
Just trucking along, as usual.