June 29, 2011

The French Dinner

What is it about French teachers that make middle school and high school students want to torture them with bad classroom behavior? They naturally transmit some sort of signal to young students that says "go absolutely bonkers in my class." It's like spilling a drop of blood in a shark tank, inducing what can best be described as a sort of French class feeding frenzy. I'm not sure I've identified the quality common to all French teachers that causes this; perhaps it is having a big heart.

No matter the unjustified (but very real) cause of said bad behavior, my classmates and I were 100% susceptible to it. The most well-behaved and the most depraved students couldn't help but go crazy each time we set foot in the French room.

Take, for example, the 7th grade French dinner. Our teacher arranged for each of us to cook a French meal and bring it to school one evening so that we could learn about French cuisine. All week we prepared decorations. One of the assignments was to draw a French themed place mat for the event. Things were already going south at this stage of the game.

My friend, Katie, was in charge of bringing the French onion soup. Very exotic. She and her friend Liz were running late, so she decided to be responsible and leave a voicemail for Madame.

I believe she actually said "Click."

Katie and Liz were, of course, perfectly fine, just stuck in traffic.

(Note: I realize how bad this is, but isn't it kind of hilarious that a middle schooler wouldn't know better?)

Well we all got mighty impatient waiting for the soup, so we planned to jump out and yell "Where were you!?" as Katie walked in the door. The problem was, Katie startled easily, so when we jumped out, she screamed and dumped the entire crock pot of soup onto herself.

The dinner spiraled out of control from there. I believe we ultimately made jokes about Madame's recent gall stone removal procedure and then began launching crepes out the window at passersby.

In high school, one might think we had matured and could carry ourselves in a more civilized manner. Not so. Once, when a giant dragon-fly flew into the room, we all used it as an opportunity to act panicked, as though a B52 bomber was swooping around overhead. It was a most immediate descent into madness.

When someone trapped the insect in a cabinet drawer, we could still hear its wings buzzing.

Quite often, our teacher needed a mental break from us, so a lady named Mrs. Chen would come in and substitute. She didn't know a lick of French. Every time we had her, she would threaten that if we didn't behave, she would make us watch West Side Story as our punishment. She must have loved that movie because even before we could act up, she was popping that tape in and pressing play.

We must have seen that movie at least 30 times.

When our teacher was preparing us for the AP French exam, she asked that we take a practice test. Before we began, she reminded us not to have "wandering eyes," meaning no sneaking a peak at anyone else's test. That's when John piped up with an honest question.

He had a point. None of us knew any French.

If you know any middle or high school French teachers, give them a hug the next time you see them. They probably need it.


Jordie said...

My mom's reaction to this post:

"For this, we paid all that money??"

Lee said...

I definitely wouldn't cheat off of John; he couldn't even spell 'Madame' right!

Jordie said...

Lee: Of course not. He was terrible at French.