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  • Excerpt Monday: God Does Have A Sense of Humor by Rob Ballister

    God Does Have A Sense of Humor by
    Rob Ballister

    Just returned from the Military Writers' Society of America 2010 conference. What a great time! Met so many wonderful authors, and my book was selected to be produced as a play (parts of it, anyway). Below is an excerpt.

    Death by Spanish
    My Spanish teacher drove me absolutely crazy, but it’s funny to look back on it now.

    The experts say that high school is the best four years of a person's life. I would very much like to agree with them, but unfortunately I can't. Everyday I have to go to school, and my first class every day is Spanish, and if Spanish class is part of the best four years of my life, I'm going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge now before things get any worse.

    Perhaps I can put this in better perspective. I'm not Spanish. I never was Spanish. I never will be Spanish. I never even want to be Spanish, so why do I have to knock myself out to learn the language? Just recently I figured out that in English the adjective almost always goes before the noun modified, and now some teacher with an accent I can't understand no matter what language she speaks keeps telling me that in Spanish the adjective almost always goes after the noun modified. I am a peaceful person, but much more of this could make me loco.

    This would be easier to understand if you realized what goes on every morning in a typical Spanish class. Please try to follow along, I know it gets horrible, but remember, I live this.

    The teacher walks in every morning in an outfit so outlandish that naturally half the class keels over laughing (not me, of course). Instead of ignoring it, the teacher always asks some poor slob (that would be me) why half the class is in tears on the floor. Because I can't be honest and say, "Because you shot your couch and dressed in the carcass," I just sit there and grin sheepishly. Already, I’m in Hell, and class just started. Ten minutes later everybody is back in their seats and we are ready to begin.

    Every morning, the teacher addresses the class, not with "Good morning, class," or even "Hola, classe," which we would understand, but with "Buenomananacubanahavanapinadapinacoladahablaba." What does this mean? I don't have the faintest idea, so I just nod my head and repeat "Si," over and over. I know someone in the class must understand, but that person is afraid to speak up for fear of being stoned to death by the rest of us uneducated heathens. Then the teacher says, in unrecognizable English, "Open your workbooks to page five hundred eighteen." Because there are only one hundred ten pages in our workbooks, we know she means fifty eight. When we arrive at the day's lesson, the teacher gives us our assignment. "OK, do essersisses ah, beh, se, de, eh, an effe, an no talking!" I look at the assignment, and I notice that the first exercise has thirty parts, each with three sub-parts. I go to read the directions, and they are in Spanish. It is at this point every day that I turn to my friend and say, "You distract her, I'll beat her to death with the Spanish flag,” or words to that effect.

     
    I'd continue, but because there are respectable, decent people reading this, my morals prevent me. I am all for exposure to foreign culture and language, but wouldn't it be easier just to watch movies or something?
     
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