My school of higher education required two years of a foreign language in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Why two years of studying a language that I could only stumble through would be of use to me in the years to come, I still do not understand. Learning to read and write in proper English made sense. Taking a semester in Logic was logical. A year of studying different religions and cultures was probably a worthwhile exercise.
The foreign language thing did not make sense to me, but then neither did a semester of calculus (Not your engineering major’s calculus, but calculus light.) I still don’t even know what calculus is. I think it is some kind of math which involves deriving an actual number from a formula which contains only letters…and yet I passed with a high “D.”
If I was going to study a foreign language I decided to not study Latin, the language I studied in High School. I already knew “Tempus fugit,” and “Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est" and that was hardly ever useful. I was told that many languages used Latin as their base and everyone should learn Latin, but I knew that was a crock. Latin to people in my day was today’s students cursive; nice to know, but worthless.
Anyway, if I had to study a language I decided to study a language that lots of people spoke. I decided to study Spanish.
I passed the first year of Spanish with a “D.” I still don’t really understand Spanish. I think it is some kind of language where you have to derive an actual number from a formula which contains only letters. Whatever, one year down, one year to go.
Spanish II was even harder than Spanish I and was made even more difficult because the instructor, Senior Arboleda, a short balding gay man, hated me. He hated me with a passion. I’m not sure why he hated me, but from day one he hated me. What made it even worse was Senior Arboleda spoke Castilian Spanish, a strange dialect which can turn a straight man gay. In Castilian senior is not senior, it is thenior. Esta is ethta, Espaniol is Ethpaniol and so on.
I had enough trouble with Spanish, Thpanith was way too difficult.
On my midterm exam I managed a 57. Senior Arboleda motioned me to see him after class.
“Thenior Hagy, you do not theem to underthtand thith language. I mutht they, if you ethsthudied eight hourth a day for the retht of thith year I do not believe you could path thith courth.”
I agreed. I did not go back to another class, I did not take another test and I accepted my “F” without further effort. I could have simply dropped the course, taken and incomplete and avoided an “F” but unfortunately I did not know that.
In order to eventually graduate I still needed that final year of Spanish. That was never going to happen in Thenior Arboleda’th clath, so instead I enrolled in summer school at Rutgers.
Smart people do not take summer school. Summer school is for dumb kids who need credits that they could never earn in competition with intelligent students.
Thank you summer school.
At every class in summer school we learned to interpret ten sentences in Spanish. We had ten sentences in English and had to be able to recite or write them in Spanish. Each week we had a test which involved those exact ten sentences.
Even I could memorize ten sentences a week.
Our final grade was based upon those weekly tests, 50%, and a final exam, 50%. The final exam simply consisted of knowing the same sentences we learned each week.
In order for my school to accept the summer school credits, I had to get a “B.” My final summer school grade was a “B.”
Grasias summer school.
Adioth Thenior Arboleda.