Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tell me something I don't know

Would you like an ice-cream?
No thanks, I'd better not.
Why is that then?
Oh, I have constipation.
The doctor said I shouldn't eat ice-cream.
Would you be allowed some vegetables?
Oh yes, that should be fine.

This is one of many 'two-people-having-a-casual-lunch' dialogues I got to act out today in German class. I also threw myself into the role of #1 woman suffering from diarrhea who can't eat cake, but can manage chocolate.

These situations made me laugh, not just because I couldn't help wondering if this might be typical lunch time chit-chat between friends and colleagues, or even patron and waiter, but because I have noticed that my class has a tendency to play out these dialogues in real life with strangers who happen to come out with random opening lines from previous dialogues we have practised to death. I'm sure the idea is that we could improvise with many other words of our own choosing, but when you've got constipation lodged in your mind it can be very difficult to stray from the script into something more original and perhaps more accurate.

The first time it happened we (as a class) were crossing the road at the end of a tea break and an unsuspecting stranger just happened to feed us the opening line from the #two hitchhikers meet and enjoy a roadside cigarette routine. Imagine their surprise when we all announced that yes, we all had a light, and enquired where they were off to. Luckily, the Korean's are all mad smokers so we didn't look like a complete bunch of crazies, but it was close.

I myself on being asked questions I can truely say I completely understand from start to finish, have been known to answer with unwarranted levels of enthusiasm, over really quite dull questions. Others have reported similar experiences where they have been asked the right questions by waiters. The trouble is when these moments occur we feel completely elated that we are hearing something and understanding it and even have an answer ready, and can respond without stumbling over our grammar and taking 2 minutes to answer. It's a wonderful feeling!

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