If the number of Edward Said books and things called "The Persian Puzzle" purchased by me on Amazon hadn't already warranted a multi-paged file in the halls of big government, my online sign-up for Arabic classes through Greenwich Continuing Education probably sealed the deal. As one friend asked, "are you planning on joining the CIA?"
I enjoyed musing about my fellow future classmates. Who would schlep to Greenwich High School every Tuesday night to learn Arabic from an Armenian woman? Now, it's true, I could have taken Italian or Spanish instead, but both of those languages seem like they would be easy to pick up on one's own - or certainly easier than Arabic and, before some of you ask, Greenwich Continuing Education did not offer Portuguese. So, the people who signed up to take Arabic might be vastly different from the people who signed up to take Italian or Spanish. Perhaps, like me, they'd turn out to be just a trifle eccentric.
And, truth be told, I don't have a very good reason for choosing Arabic. Yes, my grandfather spoke it, and all his grandfathers before him, and a number of my cousins speak it, but my grandfather is dead and I see those cousins perhaps once every five years, so there's no pressing family reason to start conversing in a foreign tongue with them now. And, yes, I hope to visit quite a few more countries where Arabic is the language, but having seen Egypt and Morocco and a sliver of Jordan, I'm rapidly using up my stable Arabic-speaking destinations. I just know I've wanted to learn a little bit for a fair number of years. When I saw that for a piddling amount and a small investment of time, I could at least, maybe, start to decipher words on menus, I was excited.
Of course I knew somewhere deep down that it wasn't meant to be. Without being able to kindly put my finger on it, I had a good suspicion that the hausfraus of Greenwich were not clamoring for a good Arabic class, nor were the HedgieHusbands going to sneak out of work early to spend an hour and a half phlegming their ways through a truly non-essential tongue. I knew, without really knowing, that I was the only person who would sign up for that class - that the class wasn't going to happen - which is why I was only the tiniest bit surprised when the message on the answering machine told me precisely that.
So I'll have to spend my Tuesdays doing something else. I thought, very briefly about calling back and asking if I could simply register for Spanish or Italian instead, but I decided against it for the simple reason that my heart wasn't into it. Which is not to say I wouldn't like to know how to speak Spanish or Italian, because I would, I just get the sneaking suspicion that, given the relative simplicity of both of those languages, I might find learning them in such an informal setting to be kind of a letdown - something the difficulty of Arabic would have counteracted. So I'll refer to the little bit of Arabic I did learn in Egypt and say to this situation, ma feesh mushkeleh - "no problem."
2 weeks ago