After a week’s linguistic repose, Opera Language Circle’s second meeting took place yesterday. But not in the manner I’d expected.
After our first preliminary meeting to test the waters, I went public with my pet project, posting it on NFCS. The response was overwhelmingly positive, though of course a lot of the comments were of the “great idea but I can’t come” variety. But the announcement was made, and we were official.
I was an unhappy camper Tuesday, not feeling like doing much of anything, but convinced myself that all I needed was to sit at Amrita and have some drinks with my friends and laugh and stumble my way through some languages. Talking and eating and drinking with my friends always makes everything better.
The problems started at 2pm. My German guru, Jenny, called and explained to me in a breathless flurry about her misadventures in grant writing, which would probably-possibly prevent her presence that night. We agreed that she’d try to come late, and she sincerely intended to, but I could tell from the sound of things that I wouldn’t be able to count on the stars aligning for that.
Now, Jenny is the last person who I could have cancelling, because she’s the only German guru. But whatcha gonna do- we’d get by somehow. If nothing else I could lead a really basic conversation and we could play with phrase books.
Then Sarah, my French partner in la crime, who had been asking me just hours earlier about the food at Amrita, texted that she was going home sick from school. Aghh! My group was falling apart! Yeah I speak plenty of French to carry on a conversation til the sun comes up, but I’m very sloppy with grammar and my vocab is slipping. Sarah’s my go-to gal for when I have a question about French. But at least I could carry on the conversation.
At 7:00, when the meeting was to start, I was tearing apart my apartment, because I couldn’t find my keys, so I couldn’t leave. I’m frantically texting and calling Sal and Anne, my Italian gurus, to tell them to FIND the new people, DON’T LET THEM LEAVE, and hold down the fort until I got there, as soon as I found my keys.
Sal and Anne both text back that they’re stuck at work and won’t be getting free in time for the meeting at all.
So my entire group is scrambled eggs. And it’s only the second meeting. Not a good sign. And I was expecting people from NFCS. I felt so embarrassed- and afraid they would get to Amrita, not find us anywhere, and go home and never come back. And I really need to build up my group.
I finally found my keys- they were where they were supposed to be, except under a magazine- ran to Amrita with all my grammar books in a tow, and rushed into the bar, scouring the room for people who looked like lost singers.
I saw a girl with a stack of dictionaries in front of her. It was one of the people from NFCS, who had come with her husband. In a whoosh of words and ordering whiskey (yeah I had already had like 3 glasses of wine at home, like I said rough day), I explained that my whole group had bailed on me, but that we were gonna make this happen.
I went on the prowl around the bar. Within one minute I had secured us a German. He was in New York for the first time on vacation. I bought him a beer and sat him down at our table.
The conversation went great! For a non-teacher, he was sooo good at correcting our grammar. He spoke English so was able to explain things that we didn’t grasp. I had so much fun. We actually went over the 30 minutes without realizing it!
He actually spoke some French, so he stuck around while I led the French dialogue, which was mostly me soliloquizing about my time in Paris and checking every other sentence to make sure everyone understood me.
Now Italian was going to be tricky. It was all of our worst languages, and it was clear that Anne wasn’t going to make it in time. I walked around the bar but didn’t find anyone who was speaking Italian, or who looked Italian, so I returned to my seat and proposed that we attempt to fudge our way through it for 15 minutes, and if one of my gurus showed up by then we’d continue, but if not we’d put it to rest there.
So we started talking about basic things, and the GUY AT THE TABLE NEXT TO ME jumps into our conversation in Italian. Ok so this guy was Indian. Indian-American. I never would have pegged him for an Italiophone. (Is that the word?) But I dragged his chair over to our table and exlaimed, “E il nuovo proffessore d’italiano!!” and forced him to talk to us for the rest of the 15 minutes. How freaking funny is that. He was like getting his doctorate in Italian at Columbia.
Yeah because LEAVE IT TO AMANDA WHITE. I will pull shit like this off. Voila.
Hope to get the regulars back next week. Actually I think Anne is out of town. Anybody else want to be an Italian guru?
See y’all there.