VICKI'S VIEW: We Didn’t Speak English


By Vicki Brown

Teenagers have the capacity to be really annoying. I should know…I was one. But when teens are especially clever, they can actually be obnoxious.

When I was in high school, there was a teacher who was as old as the hills and as mean as an old goat. She fussed constantly, talked to herself a lot, but oddly enough, ignored misbehavior and insults. Frankly, most of the kids thought she had a screw loose.

She drove an old Volkswagen rather wildly through the streets, and God help you if you were trying to cross the teacher’s parking lot as she drove in. You would have ended up with tire tracks across your torso.

Kids were either appalled by her or got the biggest kick out of her eccentric behavior. One thing was for certain…she never bored you. She was the butt of many jokes.

One day she came out of school to find all the seats missing from inside her car. For a while she just stood there staring. Then, she calmly walked back in the school, came out with Coca Cola crates, set them in place of the seats, and drove off. By standers were extremely disappointed at her reaction, but deep down, I sort of admired her fortitude.

Just before graduation, somehow, her car ended up on the roof. To this day, I have no idea how that happened or who was responsible, but gossip said that the Auto Mechanics class at the Career Center took a field trip.

Well, I confess, that I, too, was obnoxious. It all started because I was hanging out with my middle sister. Separate, we were just irritating. Together, we were a terror.

Our grandparents came to stay with us one time because my parents went out of town. As babysitters, they weren’t too bad, but they found us baffling and bewildering, especially at dinner time. Between stories we told about things that happened at school that day, or their misunderstanding of the slang from our generation (groovy), dinner was hilarious. My sister and I would get tickled, then start chuckling, and finally fall out of our chairs with uproarious laughter. They would shake their grey heads and keep eating.

One beautiful summer day, my sister and I decided to go downtown. For some reason, we were walking down the street and decided it would be fun to go into stores and pretend we couldn’t speak English. It sounds rather stupid now, but I must say, it was very funny then.

We went into several stores, but nothing really happened. It wasn’t until we went into Alderman’s Drugstore that we had success. A saleslady came up and asked if we needed help.

Now, my sister can utter realistic gibberish, but I had to rely on my dialog memorization from French class. So, when she asked if we needed assistance, my sister and I looked puzzled, turned and looked at each other, and began to rattle off…. stuff. We shrugged and then looked back at her. I then began to rattle off tidbits from my French class (basically asking if she wanted me to prepare dessert).

The poor lady looked confused, then she looked like a deer in headlights. She didn’t have a clue what I was saying. Finally, in frustration, she walked away, and moving toward the pharmacist she said it was a shame that people could visit this country and not speak English.

When we left the store, my sister and I burst into laughter and went back to the car. To this day, we still laugh about our prank. In fact, recently I bought her a tumbler that said “Partners in crime…remember: if we get caught, we can’t speak English!”

When I told my mom what we did, she didn’t find it funny at all. I don’t think she ever set foot in Alderman’s Drugstore, either. Well, I guess she had to be there to really appreciate the humor.


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