Monday, October 8, 2012
"That's the same in any language."
My travels had landed me in a small seaboard town of Cameroon called Limbe. I was working with some of the government's best and brightest Cameroon had to offer. It wasn't that these young men were not smart... they were very intelligent. Either of the men I was privileged to come into contact could easily explain to you the basic lift versus drag principles in aerial propulsion but neither could quite grasp the simple logic that a .44 magnum trumped every witch doctor, any day.
During a break from one of my lectures a young man named Nim approached me, "Kid. Kid. I have a question for you, Sir."
I had noticed Nim as an eager contributor to the discussions within my lectures and I was happy to oblige, "Yes, sir. How may I help you?"
"Mr. Kid, Sir. What do you call someone who speaks three languages?" A huge charming smile broadened Nim's round brown face.
I thought for a minute and asked, "Trilingual?"
"Yes, Kid. Yes." Nim's smile gave testament to his pride in my intelligence. As if I was a beacon of his aspirations and I had not let him down. Nim continued, "Mr. Kid, what do you call someone who speaks two languages?"
Nim beams with pride, "Yes! Yes! Kid, you are very smart." During his pause Nim stared deep into my eyes and grinned ear to ear, "Mr Kid? What do you call a man who speak but only one language?"
I thought hard... Uni-lingual? I have never heard of such a thing. Monolingual? Monogrammatic? No. Nim smiled with an eerie childlike reverence in hesitation for his better's answer. Unislavic? Singularmatic? "Only one language? I really don't know."
Nim's smile took a slight haunt to it, "Mr. Kid, we call a man who can speak only one language an American."
Being an American I was appalled! How could my culture (and me) leave me with no defense? Why had I not studied harder in French? Spanish? German? Man, I sucked! I was so freaking lazy! All those years I could have concentrated on another language I went out beer drinking and clubbing. It's not like I could dance, karaoke wasn't very prominent at the time, but man I can throw down some beer when I want to! See! I was a good American!
Later that evening the boys wanted to take me out to dinner. I was taken to a great little open fire grill at the edge of a pier where the fish was straight out of the water fresh, blackened to taste, and served with chilled Guinness. There was a trio of musicians who entertained with that West African laid back beat as we dined and shortly after the meal we were off to a night club.
The Kid cannot dance. But being one of few white guys in the joint I did elicit a bit more attention than the usual bloke. After perhaps a half hour of dancing I was about to exit the floor. None of any of my many dance partners were that attractive but each were fun ladies in their own right, and I like to think what stories they must tell still today of the crazy American who loved Rick James!!! But as I was about to exit an amazingly beautiful tall statuesque young woman entered the club. Within minutes I was back on the floor.
As the music ended and I escorted the young beauty off the floor, I sauntered over to Nim, "Mac Daddy... that's the same in any language."