DAILY BRIEFING
Schoolnight

Mar. 29 - Today is the first anniversary of my arrival in Denmark. I've lived here a year and still don't have the courage to order a pizza by phone. Hell, I tremble at the very sound of the phone ringing—not just because it has that weird Euro ring or because the interval between rings is twice as long as in the states, but also because half the time I pick it up I hear someone saying, "blarghy yargle glurble blarg blarg" (or words to that effect).

For the first few months I was here people kept expressing amazement at how quickly I was picking up Danish. For the last few months, they've been asking when I start classes. Just in time, the answer is: right now.

* * *

"I have to go to school tomorrow."

I haven't uttered those words since the Reagan Administration, yet I managed to say them out loud yesterday. Several times. With an increasing sense of anxiety.

For today I begin studieskolen—my free, state-sponsored Danish language education. (And it only costs a thousand crowns per unit!) Because I placed out of the entry-level course, I'm jumping right into modules 3 and 4. I have a textbook entitled Toeren, or "The Twos"—the thrilling sequel to "The Ones." Here's a representative excerpt:

Allow me to show off my budding Danish skills by translating.

Exercise 4: Literal Translation
A: Where is it (now), you come from?
B: (I come) from Nigeria.
A: Oh yeah! (now can I well remember that.)

Exercise 5: Literal Translation
A: Where in Japan is it (now), you come from?
B: (I come) from Tokyo.
A: Oh yeah! (now can I well remember that.)

I'm a playwright by nature, training, and experience, so I'm less interested in literal than colloquial translations. Here's how I'd translate each of those dialogues:

Exercise 4: Colloquial Translation
A: Where'd you say you were from?
B: Nigeria.
A: Oh yeah. Right.

Exercise 5: Colloquial Translation
A: Where in Japan are you from, again?
B: Tokyo.
A: I knew that.

I have classes every weekday but Wednesday, from 11:30 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. Looking over my textbook, I'm afraid we're going to spend three-and-a-half hours tomorrow asking one another where we're from and insisting that, on reflection, we remember after all. I don't do well with repetition. I can envision myself eventually getting caught up in something like the following dialog:

Fellow Student: Where is it, now, you come from?
Moron: How many fucking times I gotta tell you?!
Fellow Student: Oh yeah! Now can I well remember that.

Or this:

Fellow Student: Where in the States is it now, you come from?
Moron: Come on, we've been through this shit a thousand times.
Fellow Student: There is no need to insult me.
Moron: It's not you, I'm just sick of this.
Fellow Student: Tell me about it.

Of course, this kind of dialogue is unlikely to take place in Danish, since we are all by definition pretty piss-poor at it, which is probably why I've been assured that only Danish will be permitted in the classroom. As soon as you're fluent enough to say, "I can't take another moment of this repetitive drivel—I'm going to lose my mind or start taking hostages!"—well, if you can get a line like that out of your mouth in viable Danish, they probably graduate you on the spot.

* * *

No, no, no, I'm not serious. I'm looking forward to the classes. Really. I'm four months away from having a half-Danish child. It's show time.

* * *

We sprang our clocks ahead over the weekend, so we're now seven hours ahead of Eastern and eight hours ahead of my beloved Central Time. Naturally, this is the week we fly to the states for our first visit since moving here. The U.S. will spring ahead next Saturday, while we're there, which will presumably take a little of the edge off our jet lag.

("Presumably"... there's a word I ought to strike from my vocabulary altogether.)

It's light out more than twelve hours a day now. There was still some light in the sky after eight o'clock last night. It won't get darker any earlier than that for another six months. In fact, the next time the sun goes down earlier than it did tonight, I'll be able to watch the sunset with my daughter.

This is a pretty weird place to be in life.

* * *

I went berserk on the moron abroad blog over the weekend. I'll try to remind you again over the next couple of days, but in case I forget: there won't be any Almanacs while I'm in the states. I will, however, try to update the quintessential expatriate expectant father's blog from time to time.

* * *

Georges Seurat died on March 29, 1891. Mr. Seurat was a dotty artist who painted the world as he saw it. Sadly, his eye condition was never treated.

Today's the birthday of Jennifer Capriati (1976), Lucy Lawless (1968), Elle Macpherson (1964), John Major (1943), Eric Idle (1943), Pearl Bailey (1918), Sam Walton (1918), and Cy Young (1867).

It's Commemoration Day in Madagascar, Youth Day in Taiwan, and Icaka New Year in Indonesia (unless that's a Lunar holiday, in which case it's probably some other day around this time).

Happy Monday!

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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