Location: marengo, il, United States

Saturday, December 05, 2009

how to learn to speak english properly

i once contracted to wallpaper a small kitchen for a young lady named robyn. i had done work for her several times before, and she always loved the results of my efforts.

after several weeks later, i showed up at her house on the appointed morning at eight o'clock sharp, ready to go to work.

i noticed an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway as i parked my truck, and then after ringing the doorbell and entering the home, i discovered that the vehicle belonged to robyn's mother, eileen, who was visiting her that day.

that's when i saw the little girl standing between the two women.

robyn politely introduced us.

"this is liudmila. say hello to my friend, harry."

she pronounced the girl's name as "lewd mella".

the eight-year-old acted shy and hid behind both ladies.

robyn tried to explain her timid behavior.

"she is from romania. i just got her from an orphanage there, and am in the process of adoption, but she doesn't speak any english at all."

however, her mother had been born and raised in romania. eileen spoke the language perfectly, so it was not difficult for the two adults to communicate with the child.

throughout the morning i heard them speaking clearly to liudmila as i worked in the kitchen.

"these are my shoes. i put them in my closet. now you say that."

"i must always keep my room neat and tidy. repeat that, liudmila."

"this is my piano. i shall learn to play it well. try to get her to say that, mom."

i noticed an ever-increasing tone of frustration coming from both of the women.

finally, i could not take the drawn-out and futile english language instructions any longer, so i laid down my tools and stepped into the living room, where i saw liudmila standing next to robyn and eileen.

i beckoned with my forefinger at the child and spoke with authority.

"liudmila, come here!"

robyn smiled while eileen spoke to the waif, saying something foreign to my ears . the girl glanced up at eileen, and then she looked at me as she grinned and began walking across the room.

when she got close enough, i made a typical american statement.

"gimme five!"

she looked puzzled, so i held up my palm in the air while placing her hand to match mine.

then i slapped it hard.

her grin grew wider, so i repeated myself.

"gimme five!"

liudmila caught on immediately, slapping my palm and giggling happily. she understood, i could tell.

so i looked over at the ladies once before returning back to the kitchen to earn my day's wages.

but then for the rest of the afternoon, i kept hearing the little girl calling out my name.

"hoddy! gimme five!"


Anonymous eli said...

haha, hoddy.
you should tell me the real story some time.

7:19 AM  

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