It’s finally happening. I’m forgetting how to speak English. Will the eccentricities never end?
Has this ever happened to you? You just wanna say something simple to the girl behind the gelato counter like “I want to put your lips on one of those cones and suck on them all afternoon” (never mind that she won’t understand me, I just wanna say it, is that a crime?) and your mental teleprompter starts scrolling, but it seems like someone went through and deleted every third word and/or all words over one syllable, and the words that you can discern get corrupted during the journey from your mind’s eye to your mouth and it comes out in halting gibberish?
Forget I asked. No need to embarrass yourselves. After all, I’m the only one here literally getting pennies per day in Adsense revenue for detailing my profundity of shortcomings and the exquisite contours of my tushie.
The thing is, I’ve spend the vast majority of the past three and a half years either not speaking English or speaking English to people who are not native English speakers. In the case of the latter, I’ve made a habit of adjusting my speech so as to be more easily understood, otherwise I’d never get my bloody gelato. I slow down the pace, annunciate ev-er-y-thin-g, eliminate all slang and use only the most internationally familiar, simple words. Until now, this just made me sound a little eccentric(er) to native English speakers, but when need be I could switch back and speak my good ol’ fast paced Americano English, with all the requisite velocity, slang and doo doo references. But lately, I can no longer readily flip the switch. Whole blocks of fairly important vocabulary have become difficult to access. Furthermore, I’m randomly mispronouncing basic, everyday words like “idiot”, “motherfraker” and “jackhole”.
It first occurred to me that I was losing it over Christmas in Sorrento when I met up with my pal Marge and her husband Fabio (not their real names, unfortunately for all concerned), where we engaged in three days of wine-fueled sloth and almost burned down our pension with citronella candles. Marge, a long time sufferer of my oddball behavior (for the record, she’s no angel in that department herself), was kind enough to never point out my curiously labored speech impediment, but I know it was on her mind, because as we were parting ways she asked when I’d next have the opportunity to speak English with honest-to-god English speakers. That’s when it occurred to me how few opportunities I get to really cut loose in spoken English these days. I used to be quite the on-the-spot, verbal gymnast. I was an actor, a radio DJ in college, I did improv classes and, for god’s sake, I was a semi-professional juggler for over ten cumulative years. Hecklers, drunks, impressionable college freshmen in Cancun, I’ve dazzled them all with my cunning linguisim. Now, I can barely belt out the alphabet without some kind of catastrophe (“A, B, C, D, E, H, motherfraker!”).
As it happens, there are a couple Americans wandering around Oristano (the nearest big city to my abandoned vacation village). I’ve encountered them a few times recently and try as I might, the best English I can spontaneously produce sounds as if I was just unfrozen from a block of ice dating back to the Neanderthal Era.
Fortunately, with tremendous effort, I can still write in something approaching proper English (as close as I’ve ever gotten, in any case), but in things like quickly dashed off emails I’m reduced to short, semi-coherent, sentence fragments, with a vocabulary range scarcely superior to Sponge Bob.
Don’t get me wrong, traveling and living in exotic and unlikely locales is one of the best parts of my life. If someone offered me a rent-free apartment in America, with reliable, high-speed internet, a Brazilian nudist maid and an on-call chef that specializes in omelets, I honestly don’t know if I would accept. OK, put me across the street from Natalie Portman’s private solarium and throw in a telescope and you’ve got a deal.
Let me reiterate, for the benefit of my beleaguered agent and any editors that may be reading, I can still write in English with relative proficiency. Look:
“Once upon a time, o pisica negru è andata al lago. He said ‘ma uit dupa pentru la pesca migliore de la mundo’ But the problem was non esista pesce in acest lac, pentru ca en realidad el lago was a pool.”
See? No sweat. Why I don’t have a book deal yet is beyond me.
Oh yeah, and anyone who can attribute the quote I used in title of this post will receive several moments of my undying admiration for retaining obscure information. It’s strange, I can’t conjure up the word “escalator” under normal duress, but I remember a useless phrase that I heard 25 years ago that I’ve never even used in conversation. There must be somebody that I can sue over this.
In other news, due to what I assume was a freak technical glitch, I was not nominated for any categories in the 2007 Weblog Awards. However, I still urge you to visit the Bloggies site and vote for the finalists. There’s some really great blogs out there, though I feel compelled to mention that three of the five nominees for the “Most Humorous Weblog” category aren’t even remotely funny. I won’t say who the unfunny ones are, but I’ll offer this hint to people who might be a little fuzzy on the definition of “humor”: Posting pictures of celebrities and making fun of what they are wearing is lazy, talent-starved, unfunny crap. Not that I’m bitter…
Still there are some great blogs in all the categories and you would be doing yourself a favor to discover a few of these. I know, I know, like we need anymore distractions, but you know what I mean. You never know, one of these days you might find yourself stuck in an abandoned vacation village with a TV satellite dish seemingly mounted on a whip-antennae, so that when even a slight breeze comes along, you lose reception for Fashion TV and then you’ll be thanking me for the reading material.