Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Things They Say (12). Una Paloma Blanca.

Monday morning registration conversation. I usually ask them about what they've done over the weekend. The most common reply is to have had paella at grannie's house (or 'the house of mi abuela,' as they stubbornly continue to call it). But Alma breaks the train of paella.
I go to cinema,” she tells me.
I went to the cinema,” I correct.
And me as well,” she chirps excitedly at how strange the world is.
I quickly calculate which error I should correct. Should I tell her to say, 'Me too,' rather than, 'and me as well'? Should I disabuse her of the notion that I also went to the cinema? Or should I return to the original issue and point out that she should say, 'went' instead of 'go'?
Me too,” I say, for no particular educational reason.
I say eet!” she protests indignantly.
Which film did you see?” I ask, seamlessly changing the subject and avoiding a black-hole of confusion in the process. I hope you can see how a few years of experience here has resulted in a much more professional performance by yours truly.
Ees Gnomeo and Juliet,” she says proudly.
Romeo,” I correct, rolling my 'R' to emphasise the mistake. “Rrrrro-meo and Juliet.”
No, ees Gno-meo,” Alma insists as I fail to stifle a smile at the image of Juliet being serenaded by a garden gnome in a green jacket and red, felt, pointed hat.
It's Rrrrro-meo,” I repeat. “It's an English play, by Shakespeare.” I guess I do say this a bit pompously, as if the fact of Shakespeare and I sharing nationality somehow wins the argument. (Bolstered somewhat by the issue of me being a teacher and considerably taller than Alma.) But she sticks to her Gnomeo, and even attracts some supporters.
Yes, I see eet,” Alfonso says, with a seriousness that is not really appropriate. “Ees Gnomeo, he has hat like thees.” He raises his arms and joins them in a peak above his head.
I laugh an automatic, full-bellied guffaw at the image of 'Gnomeo' under Juliet's balcony wearing a red pointed hat. Although, if I'm honest, it's the sight of Alfonso looking soooooooooo serious while doing his pointy-hat gnome impersonation which makes me lose it. Alfonso looks seriously offended and there's a lot of nodding and grumbling dissent like I've told them that their parents have thrown all their toys in the bin.
I slap on the internet. Maybe, just maybe...
Well, how was I to know that some crazy film-makers had deemed it a good idea to make a film about a love-struck gnome? I make a suitably humble apology to Alma (and the smiling Alfonso) and try changing the subject again, as quickly as I can.
Did you eat popcorn?” I ask, wondering if her English vocabulary has spread to this particular delicacy.
I go weeth my brother,” she replies.
No, popcorn,” I repeat. “Did you eat popcorn?”
What ees?” she asks, shaking her head.
I decide to show-off my Spanish and maybe rescue a bit of my reputation for knowing stuff that a teacher should know. “Palomas,” I say with a flourish. “I always eat palomas when I go to the cinema.”
There is a strange silence. Alma moves a half-step away from me. One or two children exchange worried looks. I know they have popcorn in Spain, I've seen great bucketfuls of the stuff, although my claim to eat it is a lie solely designed to give the conversation a bit of a boost. It seems to have killed it off.
You eat palomas?” Luís says finally, with a gravity which you'd expect to be reserved for conversations about the consumption of live hamsters or even children.
I fish out my phone and pop paloma into the Spanish-English translator thingy. It tells me that a paloma is a pigeon, or a dove. Well, I knew that, 'Una paloma blanca' and all that. So what was I thinking of?
You know!” I plead, pathetically. “You get a big box and it's all white and you eat it like this...” I do a mime of popping piece after piece of popcorn into my mouth while transfixed by Juliet dating a two-foot tall gnome on-screen.
Palo-mi-tas!” they yell in (relieved) unison. Of course! Palomitas. The 'ita' suffix changing something to a smaller version of itself. A bit like we add 'ie' to make birdie or doggie (or even doggy-woggie). Palomitas. Small doves. (And baby pigeons, probably. Or maybe not.)
It makes me laugh. Then it makes me really laugh, as I picture Alma, sitting in the cinema, taking a huge bite out of a full-sized pigeon, then spitting feathers all over her brother. She's a sweet little girl, so just the thought makes me laugh even harder. The children are enjoying the mistake of a teacher as only children can.
Although I'm left to wonder what disjointed version of this morning's registration conversation will be relayed over the dinner table this evening.
Hope no-one's having pigeon for tea!

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