April 24, 2012: Mon Dieu to the 27th Power

            I’ve enrolled in a French immersion class. I figure, nothing else has worked in making me conversant in this language, which I plan to need again one day when I return to Provence to live. I’ve taken college classes, tried private lessons, and even done the Berlitz thing. Perhaps being forced to speak only French with a small group of clever students will finally do the trick.

            The language school where I’m studying is run by linguists who appear to have secondary degrees in disorganization. The nice young manager called me twice with two different starting dates and three different prices, and before it ever commenced, the class was moved from Wednesday afternoons to Tuesday mornings and back again. When I arrived last week for the first class, the jeune fille at the front desk handed me an enrollment form for the German class and the textbook for Beginning Spanish. But she was wearing a real cute top.

            Things had already been going badly. While driving to class, I had a phone call from my father, telling me that there was a fireman in their kitchen. You see? I thought to myself. I knew as soon as I attempted anything extracurricular, my parents would burst into flames.

            It turns out that some little kids on my parents’ block had caught their house on fire, and the local fire brigade was going door-to-door, checking to make sure that everyone had an operating smoke alarm in their home. I was still listening to the nice fireman lecture about the importance of rechargeable D batteries when I arrived at French class to discover I’d left my reading glasses at home.

            I’m blind without them.

            While we waited for our instructor to turn up, I chatted with the only other student, a better-than-middle-aged woman who stuck out her hand and said, “Hi, my name is Bronagiddle.”

            Oh, no, I thought. It can’t be.

       Bronagiddle is the name of the old lady nursing assistant I unintentionally had fired a few months ago when I found out she was calling people to tell them how well my parents were doing in daycare. When I called the daycare facility to point out that this was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the manager agreed. And then she fired Bronagiddle. There couldn’t possibly be two old women named Bronagiddle in this city—or in the world. And now, here I was, trapped in a classroom, unable to see, with a woman I’d recently had sacked.

            It turns out that there are two Bronagiddles in Phoenix, and the one with whom I am studying French gave me a strange look when I asked if she’d ever worked in an elder care facility. Before I could explain, le professeur arrived. Incapable of not showing off, I rattled off the nine French words I know, meant to impart how happy I was to meet him and hoping his day was being plus more the very good.

            “Yes,” he replied, which made me wonder if I’d accidentally asked a question. “I am Monsieur Mailhairer, and you will now both be very smart and learn the conjugation of etre.”

            It turned out that Monsieur Mailhairer—who bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Bud Cort and is one of those maddening men of no determinable age; I still can’t decide if he’s 16 or 45—was mistaken. Not only were we unable to make it smartly through the verb for “to be,” but we sucked at Concentration—an image-matching game meant for five-year-olds—besides. We must have driven the poor man to distraction, because halfway through our four-hour class, Monsieur Mailhairer excused himself and returned with a large Styrofoam cup filled with red wine, and proceeded to get bombed.

            On the way out, Bronagiddle was huffy. “Well, I won’t be returning for any more of that,” she hissed.

            “Hey, he’s French,” I said. “Give him a break. It was just a little wine.”

            She glared at me. “I don’t care about that,” she said. “This is supposed to be a beginner’s class, and you’re fluent!”

            Qui, moi?

Thing I Hate Today: Telemarketers

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6 Responses

  1. Would that be Bud Cort in “Harold and Maude” (my favorite movie of all time) or Bud Cort in “Life Aquatic” as the bond stuge?

  2. Sorry, I spelled stooge incorrectly. You get the idea though.

  3. C’est une histoire trés amusante mais un peu triste, aussi. N’est-ce pas?

  4. …a large Styrofoam cup filled with red wine and then proceeded to get bombed. Your best post so far, R, LMAO!

  5. Again– you’ve missed an obvious tag “People with Liddle Kiddles names….”

  6. Bonne chance, Robrt!

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