Friday, September 29, 2006

Two Things

“Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away!”

Am I the only person who is somewhat surprised to remember that the pre-1960s past did not actually occur in black and white, as film and photos would lead us to believe? I mean, I know of course that that wasn’t the case, yet I’m always a little surprised when I think that people who looked at a neighborhood church built in 1897 saw it in the same vivid color and context that I do, and not in grainy grays or sepias.

Is this as result of my own boneheadedness, or does it have something to do with my age? I was born in 1971, I don’t have colored memories of things that were filmed or photographed in black and white.

“Love! The Language of Love!”

The boy’s school starts teaching Spanish in Kindergarten, so by now (4th grade) he has a better grip on the language than I do. (Sesame Street and two stoned semesters of college Spanish can only take a girl so far.) Last night we were talking over dinner about the kind of letter we could write to a hypothetical pen pal in Madrid. I told him that I wouldn’t have much trouble, as long as my pen pal was a toddler, and then gave him a sample translation:

Dear friend,

Hello! How are you? I am fine. I have brown hair and two hands. My house is green. I have two kittens. Their names are Jack and Benny. I like to drink beer and I like to smoke. Where is the bathroom?

I love you!


The boy nearly shot milk out of his nose, let me tell you. I was amused, but he was in stitches. And then, looking to extend the hilarity, he asked me to write a letter to a pretend French pen pal. Oh, the humanity—I’ve never taken a French class!

Hello, my friend!

One, two, three, four, five! Cat in the hat. Please pass the butter.

My God!


At this point, dinner was all but forgotten and we were both laughing to the point of crying. Who needs dinner theater?


Peg said...

Aside from some Christmas carols and the ability to count to ten, my grasp of my beloved Norwegian has been reduced to a speech we were taught to memorize in Norwegian class each year to sell raffle tickets.

P.S. Have you ever read David Sedaris' essays on learning French? Hysterical. But you're funnier because it's for real and I know you and I love the mental image.

P.P.S. I am amazed at the black-and-white thing, too, and I can't get my mind around it. So no, you're not the only one.

Gina said...

Peg? Did you just tell me I'm funnier than David Sedaris? I don't think anyone has ever paid me a higher compliment! :-)

BabelBabe said...

wait, wait, I can say: Merde!

Badger said...

With French, as with Spanish, I can pretty much only order food, insult people, and/or ask them to have sex.

German is an easy A. So sue me.

Joke said...


Are you referring to something along the lines of "Fuck me I'm hungry, you oaf."?


P.S. Gina, as I've told you time and again, it's not "colored memories" it's "memories of color."

Caro said...

Your two years of college Spanish got me farther than my two years of high school Spanish.

It's so much fun to cut up with the kids. It think it's because their sense of humor is so different, it's great when we click.

Amy A. said...

I love this. It's moments like those I wish I could bottle up and save for a rainy day.

Suse said...

You crack me up.

I'm also so pleased you have two hands.

Kathy said...

You could at least get to the bathroom. I can count to 10 in Spanish and 5 in French -- I remember nothing from those classes. In German, I can sing O Christmas Tree -- in fact, I can't sing that in English. So that would be my letter in German -- Oh Tannenbaum.

Gina said...

I can count to ten in Hebrew because the boy went to preschool at the JCC. I can also say the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin, thanks to two years in high school. The Pledge, and I can conjugate "love". Woo!