Friday, August 31, 2007

A small request

Dear God,

I know that I make a lot of requests. I usually ask You for the big favors in private. But there are some elements in Your hierarchy of What is Right that I need your special help with today. I know that You care deeply about grammar and spelling in all the languages of Your world, and so I beg You to help me with mine, and to forgive my grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes when I make those terrible, awful, humiliating transgressions.

I know that You care about these matters, because someone must have told me so when I was little. Bad grammar = bad girl. Misspelling = deep personal flaw. I have secretly wondered what You thought of spell check and grammar check, but never mentioned it, because I knew You were watching me when I cheated and clicked on the abc icon on the toolbar of the computer screen.

And God only knows (oh, excuse me -- that's just an expression) that my French teachers instilled the same fear in me as well. Bad French grammar = F. Bad spelling = shame, shame, and more dictées, a form of purgatory in its own right. Good French grammar = A = Good Girl. Good French spelling = Très Bien = no more sleepless nights worrying about the next dictée, and the teacher smiled and told the other students to study hard, comme Polly. I was so embarrassed, God -- it was junior high -- but I gained the status of a Good Girl. And as You know, I didn't even attend a Catholic school.

But let's be fair, God. I was absent for a while when Madame Lambert was drilling the class on the mnemonic devices for remembering masculin and féminin of some basic words. You and I know which of these cruel French le/la vocab demons I have struggled with for the past 40 years: plage, garage, sable, age, crime, dictionnaire, and anniversaire, to name but a few. They are capricious little devils -- the harder I try to remember their gender, the more slippery they become, and I inevitably remember the wrong one. Is it le plage and la sable, or la plage and le sable? See what I mean, God?

And let's face it, God. The human brain can only retain so much. In my new life in Paris (I did remember to thank You for this, didn't I?) while I'm cleverly absorbing essential new French phrases -- such as péter les plombs and justificatif de domicile -- some of the other, older core knowledge from 8th grade just slips silently out the back of my rusting memory file-drawer.

Do You want me to be a Good Girl, God? I think You do. So, please could You just increase my personal memory capacity? Just a teensy bit? Oh, but maybe even You can't perform a miracle that miraculous at my advanced stage. So perhaps You might at least let me forget trivial stuff -- like that Rice Krispies jingle from the 60s or my first boyfriend's birthday -- so that there is more useful room in my brain for the proper use of French vocabulary that is so important in my current life.

Thank You. Merci.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is so cute, Polly! So adorable! You seem to have so much "chispa" in yourself. I always forget how much harder it is for an English speaking person to master French,(which you do). But, one consolation: once you master French, learning any other Romance language will be a breeze! The great respect you have for other people's culture is probably deeply rooted in your upbringing. We all need to listen when we're children somebody telling us to always honor the roof under which we are. You honor with your presence that fabled city all the time. Maria O. Russell

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