So in high school, I took three freaking years of Latin, a damn dead language. To the best of my knowledge, unless somebody has a time machine, nobody in this day and age has heard how those Romans actually said the stuff. So while in French and Spanish you are always talking the stuff, since people know how it is supposed to be said, in Latin all you do is translate the stuff. And to translate the stuff you have to memorize all manner of conjugations and declinations and stuff or you can just go to the library and check out a translation if you want.
Roland took Latin in our sophomore year. I don’t know why except maybe I told him I was taking it and so he did too. We had a pretty interesting teacher that year. His name was Mr. Dell and he was a full blooded Navaho or maybe Apache Indian. Anyway he is a full blood Native American, and a good looking guy too in a pretty boy way. He was sort of short and he always wore a suit, the complete thing. What a full blooded Native American was doing wearing a suit and teaching Latin to a bunch of working class whites kids I don’t know. But hey anybody can do anything. This is America.
I think maybe he was still in graduate school or something like that because he only taught a couple of Latin classes and then he was gone for the rest of the day. And he wasn’t around the next year which was too bad since he told us about the interesting stuff—the sex and the violence and the gladiatorial games—maybe because he didn’t have a teaching credential and didn’t know any better.
But one day he is standing up front in his blue suit and suddenly he starts waving his hands around his head and fucking screaming! And then he runs to the side of the room, still screaming, and waving his arms around his head and then he goes right out the door. Still waving his hands around. We just sit there looking forward at the spot where he was and wondering what was going on, and Roland says, I think there was a bee. So we’re muttering about what a wimp he must be, when he comes back in, looking all sweaty and tells us he has this allergy to bee stings and if one bites him he could die.
So maybe that’s why he is a full blooded Native American teaching Latin to a bunch of working class white kids. He wants to stay away from bees as much as possible.
We like him though because he is a nice guy and a pretty lousy disciplinarian but one day he gets fed up because we are talking too much among our selves and it’s hard to miss because there are only about ten of us and he makes us sit right up front, so what are we going to do but talk right in front of him. And then he gets angry and says, that the next person who speaks out of turn is going to get what they called a “case card,” which is a kind of form the teacher fills out saying what you did wrong that is sent to the principal and then to your parents. So I turn to Roland who is sitting right next to me and I say, he’s kidding right? (because I can’t believe he would do that). And Roland says, yea, he’s got to be kidding.
And we say this right in front of Mr. Dell who has just said he will give a case card to anybody who talks out of turn and what do you know but the fucker gives Roland and me case cards for talking out of turn. We couldn’t fucking believe it.
I hope Mr. Dell got his PhD in classics and went on to a nice professor job somewhere far away from bees.