The story goes that I went to kindergarten not knowing how to speak English.
Ridiculous as it may sound, when you consider that I was born here, there actually is a bit of sense to it. I was the first child of my generation, the first in the whole of my extended family to be born in Canada; my father had only immigrated four years before I was born, and I spent a lot of time with my Italian-speaking nonni.
By the end of the first week of school, however, I was completely fluent in English, and my Italian was put away with the paints and the building blocks.
It's shameful, really, how very badly I speak the language now. We lived in an Italian neighbourhood, so the school board offered heritage language classes. Every day for 6 years, Signor Isabella would come in and give us Italian lessons for 20 minutes, and in grades seven and eight, that was upped to forty minutes a day. Some days, I got caught, but for the most part, I was able to read my Sweet Dreams teenage romances under my desk without a care in the world about Italy's twenty-one provinces. Regions. Provinces. Er... sections?
Eight years of formal lessons, five days a week, and the only thing I've come away with is that i appenini sono una catena di montagne che vanno da nord a sud, and frankly, I've not seen that sentence written down in 21 years, so I'm not entirely sure that all the Italians in the crowd will understand that the Appenines are a chain of mountains that go from north to south.
I can get to the bathroom, and I can ask what the price is. I can make introductions, but describing how I know the people I'm introducing is always troublesome. I can tell a story, and make a point, and have charming dinner table conversation, but only if I mix in a healthy load of dialect, construct sentences that sound like I was raised by wolves, and speak only in the infinitive.
In Italian, the world revolves around me, for I cannot conjugate to save my life.
It is disgraceful that the only time I'm gracefully fluent is when I'm completely off my head, at three in the morning, talking to a guy who only speaks French.
The point, tesori is that it's time. It is long past time. In an effort to lift the weight of the season from my shoulders, and buy a little distraction, I've decided to take an evening class. I am finally going to learn how to speak Italian!
Beginning October 16th, every Monday for nine weeks, I will be taking Italian for Beginners, so that I can master the grammar properly, and go to Italy, and flirt with boys, who won't have to guess at whether I'm easy or not, just because I can't speak the language. Dammit, if I'm going to be easy, I want to make sure that it's properly understood!
Don't I make you proud?
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