Monday, June 2, 2014

Merci, Madame

I was just reminded of a memory from high school French class -- ignited by what else but a scene in Everybody Loves Raymond -- and as soon as I remembered it I shrank a little in horror at some of the things I used to pull in school.

Now don't get me wrong. I was what you call "a good kid," and got very consistent, pleasing-to-the-parentals grades.

But I did some stuff that when I remember it (because for the most part I think I push it down) I think, "Bailey, really?"

For instance.

In seventh grade geography class, we were studying China.

I raised my hand.

I suggested that because we were studying China, why didn't we go to a Chinese restaurant, to enhance our experience?

I doubt I used the phrase "enhance our experience." This was implied.

Some days later we were all boarding a bus to go to a Chinese restaurant that we easily could have gone to with our families anytime because this is America and everyone eats Chinese food with their families all the time.

Perhaps I should be impressed at my influence to make such a thing happen -- we took a field trip to a Chinese restaurant during school hours!! -- but part of me has to think that was at least partially an illustration of me bending a vulnerable teacher.

And I am a little proud of my accomplishment, if you're asking.

I think there were other times in school that I coerced my peers to ask our teacher questions -- about his or her hobbies or whatnot -- to distract him or her from distributing a quiz or commencing a boring learning activity. I also recall this distraction tactic working once or twice. But it's been a while and the clarity of my memories is not as trustworthy as it used to be.

I feel like there is something else ridiculous, (now) embarrassing, and a little impressive that I did during my school time, but I can only recall the French incident at the moment.

And that would be this:

It was my junior year of high school, so by this point we were, on occasion, reading large stretches of French at once, as opposed to just reciting phrases and learning groups of nouns -- vegetables, objects in a home, etc.
I recall, one day a l'école, reading something like THREE TEXTBOOK PAGES of French content.
We would hop from desk to desk, one person reading a paragraph, the next person reading a paragraph, then the next, then -- because we were reading THREE PAGES -- back to the first person to continue reading all the paragraphs in French.

Now that I'm really thinking about this, I'm not sure why it was that unbearable. But surely even reading three pages of something in English in this manner wouldn't have been that thrilling, unless we were reading something hysterically funny.

In any case, when we reached the bottom of a page, or the second to last paragraph of a page, or some other point where my 16-year-old self just couldn't take it anymore, I recall saying,


I may never forget (oublier) her look of shock.

Remember, I was a good kid. Star pupil. You borrowed notes from me when you were out sick. I even loved to read, so why was I freaking out about reading this day in class?

"Can we please take a break?" I asked, pathetic and drowning in le francais.

I would also like to note here that this was at a high school where I hadn't quite shed all of my New Kid skin, so the fact that I acted out like this -- whereas I was otherwise pretty damn self conscious, even as my typically self-confident self -- should illustrate my misery of the moment.

Madame looked at me for a moment, eyes locked in the Open position, and then...she obliged me.

"All right!" she parler-ed. "Everybody get up! Let's stretch!"

And we all did a little stretch.

And then I think we might have gone back into our reading marathon, but since we had read three pages already it couldn't have been too long before the bell rang, so I didn't have to suffer much longer.

But I have to say, I am grateful to Madame for giving us that break. Apparently I really needed it.

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