Friday, March 19, 2010


So Gristle has asked that I teach him German this semester. One thing we should get out of the way right now is that I don't speak German. I know enough German to read slightly edited excerpts from Kafka short stories, plus the holocaust vocabulary I learned from The Devil's Arithmetic. That's about it.

I told Gristle all of this, but he doesn't seem to mind. I know what you're thinking: Jon, Gristle did ask you to take pictures of him in the shower, and German is the language of love. Is this just a chance to get closer to you? Is he trying to make a move? To which I say: I would give this theory more credence if we didn't spend 10 minutes of our first hour-long session today talking about the color of his poop.

(I'm sorry that there have been so many poop references on this blog over the last few days. As you can see, they're all Gristle's fault. I'm just telling it like it is. This section will probably be edited out of my hit memoir, though I'm sure the Pulitzer committee will appreciate my commitment to accuracy in the face of horrific poop.)

((That's two paragraphs in a row ending in the word poop! How many of these can I do? Only time will tell poop.))

My real fear in all this, other than poop (god, it just keeps coming!), was that Gristle would be fantastic at German and we'd quickly get out of my depth. As Gus mentioned a few weeks ago, teaching Gristle is usually an agonizingly slow experience. But I thought maybe German would be different and within a couple of weeks we'd somehow already be way past Devil's Arithmetic territory, which is just yelling "Schnell!" over and over.

Really I needn't have worried. In the first hour we were together, we managed to read through the alphabet. Which is the same as the English alphabet, which he already knows. We also talked about the color of his bowel movements, some new pimples he found on his face, whether or not England has a negative view of the rest of Europe, the color of his mucus, the Fraktur typeface, China's historical relationship with Japan, the color of his mucus again, and why he doesn't like lemons.

He said that next week I should read through the list of words in the front of the book for him so he can practice pronunciation. I reminded him that I am not a German speaker and he'd really be better off listening to the CD included with the book. He replied that he would, but we should still read through the list next week because he likes listening to my voice. So, not sure what his deal is really. If this is his idea of flirting, surely there are more efficient ways than asking me to teach him a language I don't speak and talking my ear off about his feces. Like having me take pictures of him in the shower.