By Joshua D. Kalscheur
LEARNING SPANISH WITH NURIA
Lessons begin with vale
, and then me leaning over into her ear to catch the leftovers. We boil down the sentences together, a scant verb, suponer,
instead of mirar
, the adjectives in their correct sex, mucha
, not mucho
, not bellezo
. More than anything, I find it hard to hear the consonants, hard to distinguish gender from gender. All I get from her is air, just her breath rebounding off my eardrums, but I know it's important to stay there, feign fluency. And I'll try to bring the sentences into structure, pausing after every subject, processing, then conjugating the verbs - pongo? -Es correcto o no?
All my sentences ending in what I think are crisp, punching predicates.
They weren't though, and she laughed like espanolas do, and sometimes she'd sit there, replying with a plain voice, her best English, You are funny. And then I won't laugh, but nod and shake my head, acquiescing to her, wanting us to get past this silly thing, language, but I feign it too, pretending I know what she tells me when she leans way over to whisper me something else. I'll make a stab at a few words, meander through the cognates, clinging to her slurred conjugations of estar , clinging to her hand motions, the roll of the eyes, the crinkle of her mouth, the pleasant hum of Castellano .