Tuesday, June 02, 2009
DAY 525 - THE GREAT PRETENDER
I am getting dumber.
I know this.
I can feel it.
My brain cells are one by one packing up somewhere far beyond my reach. I don't even speak good English anymore. My posts have been fewer, my patience has been thinner and my brain is more fried. Frieder.
Way more frieder.
I have had French class twice a week since January. Whenever people asked about my French, I used to say "Wow, it SURE is harder than I thought!" with my BUT I SURE AM GIVIN' IT A GOOD OLE' TRY! smile smile, wink wink.
Now when I am asked why I don't understand, I just say "Because I am slow and stupid. Did you know I am dumbest one in my class? Seriously. I am the stupidest one. My head is like a brick, I sit in the first desk in the front row too and I study two hours a day and I do ALL the homework and I try every day really REALLY hard. But I am just really slow and stupid."
That usually wraps up the conversation pretty fast.
I'm not even upset about it anymore.
In March, I passed the 15 month mark of moving to France. When it came and went with no perceptible change in my level of permanent confusion, I have to say, I got depressed. I had heard from so many different people about the magic "usually around 15 months or so, you will see a sudden difference, you'll just start to understand"...
And so, I waited.
I waited 15 long months for that magic moment to come. 15 went into 16 into 17 and now on this, my 525th day of wrestling with this language, I have to admit to myself, I feel defeated.
I'm really, almost unnaturally, good at pretending I know what is said to me. I can usually catch enough of the social cues to pretend my way right through every conversation. But it's exhausting trying to make sense out of two paragraphs having caught only CHEESE, HOUSE and HORROR. I could make about 65 different narratives out of that one, each one more implausible than the last. It's exhausting. I'm tired of the GUESS THE SUBJECT OF THE CONVERSATION! game. I fold. I can't do it anymore. I don't KNOW what the subject is, I don't KNOW why you are all laughing so hysterically, I don't KNOW why someone names PIERRE had something to do with a SANDWICH and it was HILARIOUS. I can't pretend laugh HAHAHA PIERRE SANDWICH! HAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAH!!! PIERRE SANDWICH!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!
A few times I have been too tired to pretend and have let the truth come out and it usually goes like this.....
YOU: GRBLEGREBLGREBLEGRBLE GRBLE GRBLE GRBLE GRBLE
ME: Yyyyyyyyeah, I have no idea what you just said. I dunno, maybe slower?
YOU: OH. OK. GRRRRRRBLE GRRRRRRRRBLE GRRRRRRRRBLE GRRRRRRRRBLE GRRRRRRRBLE!
ME: Yyyyyyeah, that actually isn't working at all either. I still got nothing on that one. Was it about a banana that caught on fire or something? No? Wait, was it you have fear of pineapples? No? OK, don't worry about it. Just move on. You don't need to tell me the 5 minute broken English version, it's cool. I probably won't understand that one either. It's seriously not worth it. Just moooove on, you can even go talk to someone else if you want too. Seriously. I'm cool with it. I get it. It's cool.
I have to run to French class right now and count down 120 more minutes, hoping last week's conversation doesn't happen again.
TEACHER: blah blah blah blah SUBSTANTIF blah blah blah
ME: (knowing I should not have asked a proactive question) Um, excuse me? What is a substantif?
TEACHER: blah blah blah blah blah
ME: (vigorous nod of the pretending head) OH RIGHT! OF COURSE! MERCI!
TEACHER: What is the word in English?
ME: (busted. purple face) Uh.....uh........uh.....
GERMAN GIRL BEHIND ME: It's called a NOUN.
Fuck you, Germany. Thanks for throwing me under the bus. You want to paint SHIT FOR BRAINS across my forehead too while you are at it?
I gotta go.
I'll be back more often.