I’ve decided to immerse myself into learning a new language. Martian was my first choice but I don’t know anybody from Mars and the only book I can think of that has any Martian words in it is Stranger in a Strange Land and it only has one: Grok. Grok means to understand or fully comprehend. And thus ends your Martian lesson for today. And forever.
Actually, it just occurred to me that I have recently seen two movies about people on Mars and they all spoke English, so I already know Martian. I’m multi-lingual and didn’t even know it.
I started learning ‘50’s slang and was jazzed but once I was eyeballin’ for some gone cats to shoot the breeze with, all I got were squares rappin’ in millennial speak. I thought I woulda had it made in the shade but I ended up a fream. About as many people speak ‘50’s slang as do Martian.
French is a beautiful language but France hates us except when we’re building speed bumps for Panzers or bombing countries together. German just sounds angry. I love Italian and Italy with its roads unblemished by lines so it’s basically automotive anarchy, but I’d rarely use it. I already speak Canadian so I’ve decided to do something completely illogical and learn the language of the country literally five miles from where I’m typing this; Spanish.
To my knowledge, out of 2.7 million people in the El Paso-Juarez metropolitan area, I am the only person who does not speak Spanish. Even a little. Wait, I do know a word: No. I even know what it means. I know some cuss words, too, so there’s that, but it gets a little awkward trying to have a conversation in Spanish just using No and cusswords.
In my company of 35 employees, only four are non-Hispanic. Most of the people I work with prefer speaking Spanish and I’ve tried to pick it up from them but typical Spanish speakers talk so fast, that to an untrained ear, a sentence sounds like one long word. DeJuarezmameshayunchingodetierra. I’m like, Dejua rezma meshayun chingo (because I know the cuss words) deti erra. And they’re like, Siiiiiiiiiigh.
They are all great people, though, and when I come around they convert to English so I can be part of the conversation. One day they were all laughing and not making fun of white people because white people are the only people who make fun of other people, but while they were not making fun of white people I walked up and everybody immediately stopped laughing and got quiet and awkward. When my partner, who was in the center of it all, turned to see why they got quiet and saw me, he said “Aw, it’s fine, he’s brown, too.” Everybody agreed and burst out laughing. I was touched. I feel brown.
So I’m going to beat feet to the jalopy and burn rubber to a class or six so I can be the only person in El Paso-Juarez who’s taken Spanish classes and still can’t speak it, you dig, but with any luck, I’ll grok it.