Today I went to the Montomery College cafeteria to grab a sandwich, a bad idea in retrospect but a delicious one at the time. I went up to the front, placed my order and then stood back for what seemed like a long time while the guy did his thing.
While waiting I ran into my African American friend that I mentioned earlier. It was a happy surprise, considering he had switched classes and I fully expected never to see him ever again.
As you probably already understand, I can be generally awkward. When I'm hungry, this awkwardness doubles, perhaps triples. And after being in class all morning, that awkwardness simply explodes through the roof.
So after the intial greeting he asked me what other classes I was taking.
Thinking about what I had next I said, "French."
This got him excited, because as I could tell from his accent, he knew French intimately.
"How long have you been taking it?" He asked.
I tried to do some quick math in my head. I had taken a summer French course before, this was my second semester, so technically my second year. "I'm in 102, so about two years."
"Comment allez-vous?" He asked.
This question caught me off guard. I wasn't really expecting a French question, and the amount of time it took me to register he wasn't speaking English anymore essentially demonstrated on my behalf that I didn't know what was going on. In my head I said, Ca-va, but outloud I said what I usually say which is "I'm sorry, I don't know."
"WHAT?!" He replied. "Comment t'appelle tu?"
"Uh, Zack." I REALLY wasn't up for this. I just wanted a sandwich.
He nodded. "Qu'avez-vous commandé?"
What the frick, I thought. This wasn't going to end. My mental translator was running but only came up with "insert more food" which was in English and served me no use in this conversation.
"I don't know dude." I replied.
"Man," he said shaking his head. "This is basic stuff and you don't know this?! You have taken French for two years and you cannot answer these simple questions! How is this possible?! I came to this country and had to speak fluently, you have taken classes and cannot speak a thing! You are a slacker man! You need to get to work!"
The man effectively put me in my place. He effectively demonstrated to me that I am terrible at French and at being a human being, which is the equivelant of beating the dead horse, shooting it, and then using the dead horse corpse to beat another horse to death.
And while it provided a minimal amount of reinforcement to my earlier plans of studying today, it also came with the added bonus of making me want to look in the mirror and curse myself for such a miserable existence.
But boy did that sandwich taste good.