June 11, 2010

Surviving the Weather

In my high school, it was somewhat of a tradition to torture our French teachers. I can't exactly explain why it was French teachers in particular. I think we discovered them to be quite resilient and pretty lenient, so we took full advantage. Once in middle school, when our French teacher leaned over my friend's desk to see that he had not done his homework, he actually patted her on the cheek twice, mimed putting money down her shirt, and said, "Let's just pretend none of this ever happened, alright?"

One high school example that stands out as being particularly hilarious involved an assignment to give a ten minute instructional speech in French for the rest of the class. The idea was that it would be about "How to [fill in the blank with any sort of task]." We quickly wore the teacher down to letting us film a ten minute instructional video as long as it featured ten minutes of continuous speaking, which quickly evolved into us trying to create hilarious videos with funny editing and very little French.

My friends John and Katie came over on the Sunday before the due date to help me film my video. Naturally, I picked the topic "How to Cover Your Tracks When You Accidentally Run Someone Over With Your Car." We spent all day staging the accident. One of the best and most graphic frames, ended up looking like this:

And of course, there was this:

And finally:

It was about 9:00 pm when we were able to officially say "That's a wrap." Katie went home and then we realized that we had spent all day on my project and never made a video for John. We had to put something together fast, which didn't bode well for the quality of the video.

We decided to do something simple: "How to Survive Severe Weather." This was a good idea because John was terrible at French but seemed to have a knack for remembering vocabulary words about "les temps." He figured he would only have to say words like "la pluie" for rain, and "la grele" for hail while we flashed images of these conditions on the screen. The problem was, we really didn't have images of these things. That's when we got the brilliant idea to get our parents involved.

The idea was that each of our parents would dress up like a certain type of weather. John's mom would be the Duchess of Hail, his father the Rain Knight. I'm still not exactly sure what my dad was supposed to be, but I recall that my mother played the Wind Queen.

The crazy thing was that they actually agreed to it. Keep in mind that our parents are successful, respectable, upstanding members of their communities. John's father is recognized as a top attorney, my mother is the head of counseling at a prep school, and my dad ran a successful company selling medical supply products. But here they were, dressed in bathrobes with weapons made out of construction paper, attacking John as he tried to survive the weather.

The plot was basic. John walked around my living room encountering attacks from the different elements (our parents). Looking into the camera, he would explain what one should do. For example, as he rounded the couch, his mother came out screaming "La Grele! La Grele!" like an angry witch-banshee while smashing him in the head with an ice cube. Then, in broken French, John looked at the camera and said something about needing to put a helmet on.

The grand finale was when I hit play on the stereo, blasting the "Fight Club" theme song, and all the parents attacked at once while chanting "Les Temps! Les Temps!" They swarmed him and spun around him in a circle until he busted free from the middle with his fist as they scattered and spun away in all directions. The idea was that they would spin out of the frame and John could end the scene by saying "And that's how you survive the weather" in English (because we weren't sure how to say that in French), but of course my mom was still in the frame without realizing it, just sort of looking at the camera and waiting for it to be over. We thought this was the best part of the whole video, and it was late, so we called it a wrap and everyone went home.

The next day the teacher confiscated both our videos.


Rachel Andoga said...

Jordie, I love the new format of your blog. Your comics have always been hilarious, but I'm digging the narrative. More more more!

Anonymous said...

I had not read your blog in a long time and when I subscribed on google reader and had like, 10 to read, I was so thrilled because your posts have been so incredible. I love it. I second Rachel's demand of "more more more!"