Teacher's Pet

You guys, I am enjoying the heck out of my French classes. The HECK, I say. I am enjoying them so much that right now I almost---almost!---want to leave the comfy couch where I'm sitting under a blanket with a glass of wine in my right hand and a square of dark chocolate at my left, and find my iPhone so I can use my new French dictionary app to look up "heck" in French, or at least a reasonable equivalent.

Nothing will make you feel so old, by the way, as stopping a language in 1998 and then picking it up twelve years later, during which time a significant number of, uh, technological advances have been made in the world. Why, the kids these days have French dictionary iPhone apps, for goodness sake! In fact, I myself have quickly amassed a grand total of five apps related to my newly-rediscovered hobby and I tell you, you have not lived until you have played French Study Buddy on public transport at 7:45am, while a gaggle of bleary-eyed hipsters who got on at Duboce Park peer over their Kanye-style filtered shades at you in bewilderment. (What, like it isn't normal to be feverishly thumbing through an educational textbook, muttering conjugations to oneself while wildly tapping the screen of one's phone? I have seen worse on MUNI, my friends. Like, naked worse.)

I think part of what made our first class last week so horrifying was that Alison and I were completely unprepared. Whole tenses had slipped away from us in the intervening years between sitting our French exams LAST CENTURY and wandering into Classroom D on a freezing San Francisco night, and our minds were as blank as the open notebooks we'd forgotten to bring with us to class because OH YEAHHHH, PAPER. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD IDEA.

During the portion in which I was supposed to introduce another to student to the class after we'd chatted for five minutes about ourselves, I told the room, in my nervousness, that she was born in 1945. Would have been awesome if she had been born in 1945, of course---and just between us, would it have killed her to start talking about Metamucil or pretending to walk with a cane just to help me save face?---she was in fact a sprightly 25-year-old. Who'd been born in 1985.

Later, I told the teacher that I learned to drive when I was sixty years old. "Not to worry," said Alison. "I told her I did it when I was ten-six."

But that was last week---all ninety terrifying, sweat-inducing, bowel-shaking minutes of it---and this is now, and now I am finding that my French lessons are pretty much the highlight of my entire week, and not just the lesson itself but also the homework part. Do you know how long it's been since I've had homework? Does it surprise you at all that I actually really like homework? I did the shit out of my French homework on Tuesday night, is what I'm saying, and I enjoyed every nerdy, Type-A, dictionary-rifling second of it. Pssst, come closer: I listened to the French radio while I did it.

Maybe I was listening too hard and got distracted, though, because when I got to class I discovered that I'd accidentally done, like, three times the homework I was supposed to have done, despite the fact that it did, at one point, occur to me that it was taking an awfully long time. Instead of just answering the questions in the book and then comparing my answer with my partner's in class, see, I had written down potential answers for my fictional partner too. The end result, therefore was these weird little conversations between fake French people in my head that were not so much:

What did you do last night? Me, I went to the cinema with Jean-Pierre.

But more like:

- What did you do last night? Me, I went to the cinema with Jean-Pierre.

- How interesting. I went to the theatre with Marie-Claude.

- Marie-Claude! How is that bitch? I heard her husband left her for a stripper. Probably because she has a terrible coke problem and looks like a wrung-out Star Wars character. Did you have fun at the cinema with Jean-Pierre?

(Please note: the blogger reserves the right to editorialize. I mean, it's not like the blogger even knows the French word for stripper anyway, come on.)

When I tried to tell the teacher, however, that I'd accidentally done twice the necessary amount of work, the self-deprecating "aw shucks, I'm an idiot" tone I was going for didn't exactly translate into the French, and instead I just sounded like a massive brown-nosing brown-noser who stayed up til midnight on a school night on purpose just to fabricate fictional French conversations for extra credit. It's a pretty safe bet that everyone else in the class hates me.

That's okay though, because if I learned anything from any single episode of The Bachelor ever, it's that I'm not there to make friends. No, I'm there to become America's Next Top Awesome French Speaker Who Still Often Forgets The Pluperfect Conditional. So bring it, I say. Allons y! I have these iPhone apps and I'm not afraid to use them.

Dec 02, 2010

as a former student of french. i appreciate every.single.word above.

Dec 02, 2010

I know, I know, I'm supposed to focus on the brilliance of all that French but the title of the post distracted the heck outta me!

Let's just say that it led to my calling up a friend and asking her about the rhyme that sort of ends with the "teacher's pet, is that you?" line. Chubby cheeks it is, and now I can get back to work and peace. Amen.

Dec 03, 2010

"Marie-Claude! How is that bitch?" I actually laughed out loud, such a hilarious reminder of French class. Good for you for doing this! I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to try conjugating the pluperfect conditional after all these years. If I could even remember what it was.

Dec 03, 2010

The mistakes we make when learning are all part of the fun. I called a friend my "man on the toilet", rather than my "man on the spot". Asking a guy "what's up?" apparently came out more like "what's missing from your life?". Oh, and not to forget my choosing the wrong translation for from the dictionary for "bunged up" with a cold, which led to me saying "Ah, look at poor constipated X".

Dec 03, 2010

I have done a year of Spanish evening class, and I absolutely love it. It's great to learn something new, it's challenging for sure, and the conjugating of verbs, tenses, masculine/feminine etc is hard. But I really enjoy it. My inner voice thinks it speaks Spanish fluently. I am not the swot you are though. I do my homework on the day of class! You have to practise, practise, practise though. I almost forgot everything I learnt over the summer break. Adieu!

Dec 03, 2010

Pluperfect conditional tense....(shudder). Am I the only one with horrid memories of learning a foreign language? I do regret not retaining any of the Spanish I learned in school, but not enough to ever go back to a classroom and learn it all over again. I wouldn't mind learning Italian though! Preferably not in a repeat manner of my 6.5 years of Spanish. Moving to Italy and picking it up along the way, I'm in!

Dec 03, 2010

Holly, you totally do know the French for stripper, as handily enough it's almost exactly like the English word-strip-teaseur/eause. I dare you to try and work it into your French homework this week! :0)

Dec 03, 2010

You know, I've been contemplating taking Spanish lessons for years -- years! -- and considering I stopped my Spanish classes the same time you stopped taking French ... well, I'm feeling awfully inspired over here. Muy inspired-o! Oh, wait ...

Dec 03, 2010

As a person who loves languages so much, I really, really enjoyed this post.

When I went to University, I decided to major in English and French (My native language is Spanish) and minor in German. Learning English was a piece of cake, especially grammar. Although French was a bit more difficult, I absolutely fell in love with it. German was a different story. I even had nightmares that involved conjugating verbs and memorizing the Four German Cases.

I remember one semester I took French Lit and Poetry and one assignment was to recite a poem in front of the whole class. I had so much fun in that class! I suspect my classmates hated me since I ALWAYS did my homework and even reminded the teacher to collect it whenever he forgot. I was such a nerd!

Bonne chance et amusez-vous à faire vos devoirs!

Dec 03, 2010

During my years at University, I remember one semester in which I took French Lit and Poetry and our final assignment was to recite a poem in front of the whole class.It was scary but I had so much fun doing it. To this day, I can still remember it.

I suspect my classmates hated me since I ALWAYS did my homework and I even reminded the teacher to collect it whenever he forgot. I was such a nerd!

Bonne chance et amusez-vous à faire vos devoirs!

Dec 03, 2010

How do you say "journey" in French?

As ANTAFSWSOFTPC, you are like totally on a voyage to talking pretty one day.

Dec 03, 2010

I laughed almost the entire time reading this!

Dec 03, 2010

This is freaking hilarious! Made better only by the fact that my father's name, honest to goodness, is Jean-Pierre.

Pinkie Bling
Dec 03, 2010

So funny, Holly! Good for you. I loved French class when I was in school, too. Is your class very expensive?

Dec 03, 2010

You are too funny! Definitely LOL'ed at work reading your pretend conversation about the theater.

Dec 03, 2010

Pinkie Bling -- I used a Groupon to take the class and Alison used a Living Social deal, so it was pretty reasonable for both of us in the end. Obviously, it depends on the language school you choose and how many lessons you sign up for, but if you check those sites for your city, you might get lucky and find they're offering language lessons somewhere? Otherwise, I think it works out to something like $35 a lesson, at least here in San Francisco, but I could be wrong.

Locusts and Wild Honey
Dec 03, 2010

C'est completement vrai!

I chuckled the entire way through this. Why, why are their stupid numbers so hard?

And seriously, I'm going to need the names of those other apps. You are MUCH better than me and I need to CRAM this weekend.

However at least I made her laugh/scowl when I said Merde!

Dec 03, 2010

I love French. So much that when I was a child I tried to translate all my books into French. For fun, because that's the kind of hard-partying, knows-how-to-have-a-good-time, carefree kid I was.

J'espere que vous gagnez la meilleure score en la classe et que vous dites celle-la chienne Marie-Claude ou le mettre.


I would LOVE to take German classes again. Perhaps post-wedding... in addition to all the other hobbies I intend to take up at that point.

Dec 03, 2010

This is so great! I was a French major in college until I dropped it down to a minor in a panic about being employable. I've totally let it go and last year my knowledge of French had diminished to the point of uselessness on our anniversary trip to Belgium. I was so pissed at myself for not being able to communicate in French while I was there. And yes, the numbers! I wanted to reserve a cab to the airport for 8:45am. I totally could've said 8:30 or 9, but I had to look up how to say 8:45. And I don't think I EVER was familiar with the Pluperfect Conditional.

I've been thinking about taking a class too, this is a good kick in the ass.

Dec 03, 2010

I have imaginary conversations in Spanish in my head all the time. I think it means you're not crazy if it's in a different language.

Dec 03, 2010

I don't know where my mind is. I misread the first line as "You guys, I am enjoying the heck out of my French kisses." This led to confusion as I kept reading.

Rachael W
Dec 04, 2010

I took Spanish all through high school and it was one of my majors in college. Over eight years, I gave my teachers/professors a lot of fodder with which to gently tease me. For example, if you mis-conjugate the verb in the idiomatic expression "it's our turn," -- on a test, let's say -- your Spanish teacher will hand it back to you, laughing, with a note that what you've written really means "we touch ourselves."

Dec 04, 2010

I recently went back to school to finish my BA after a 10 year absence. I agree with you, what we view as being a thorough, well-studied student definitely translates to "brown-noser" in the 18 to 20-year-old set.

I loved class. Every moment of it. I wish I could have continued even after my requirements were filled. And, surprisingly, my foreign language classes were my favorite part.


(I took Spanish)

Franca Bollo
Dec 04, 2010

Thanks for the response the other day. I contacted the school and am thinking about signing up!

Dec 04, 2010

I minored in french and have since been oh... 3 1/2 years removed from all-french-speaking environments and I can tell you, I can feel the french in me slipping away ever day. C'est tragique, Non? Oui. I need to keep those french juices a-flowin (french juices?). So if you ever need an e-pen pal to practique le francais, I'm here for you as a fellow francophone hopeful. Think of the possibilities!

Bonne chance avec votre classe!

Dec 04, 2010

Oh and PS PS PS: you want a good laugh about learning to speak French? David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. The essay of that same title had me in TEARS. I kept exclaiming "It's true! It's truuuuuuuue!" about his adventures attempting to learn French... in France. It's good to know you're not alone.

Dec 05, 2010

Oh Holly, you make me laugh out loud your posts are so good! And also, you've inspired me - I have been thinking these last couple of months I should resurrect my school French and German... merci! En avant!

Dec 05, 2010

Chou-chou de la maitresse, toi! Does she call you 'Olly?

Dec 06, 2010

She does!

Dec 08, 2010

I have had my French Rosetta Stone sitting on my nightstand since August and I have yet to start. I wonder how long until I get to the lesson on strippers so I can hang with your imaginary French study partner.

alicia hodges
Dec 18, 2010

ROFL!!!! This post made me too laugh out loud and I have been saying for the longest time that I should learn a second language and that just because I can curse in Spanish doesn't count!! LOL

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