They all filter into the classroom like the condensation on my Coke can. Four of them, all older than me, all wiser than me, all infinitely better at life than me. One sells properties to banks (at least, that’s what I gauged from his clumsy L1 expressions) and another wears too much eyeliner. Funny, isn’t it? How I comment on the guy’s profession and the girl’s make-up. Unintentional, I promise.. they were the two characteristics which came to me first. I could have said he does crossfit for an hour after every class because he makes a point of throwing up this very riveting fact in pitifully broken English just as he’s notioning to leave. “Crossfit nooow.. one howerrrr. Si?” “Yes, yes, very good.” Maybe think about putting as much sweat into your irregular verbs exercises. I want those sheets to be dripping in human juices when you tug them out of your bag next class.
The other two are teachers. We have three teachers in the classroom in total. Chaos ensues and I, the “main” one, am judged and pecked by their beaks for a full sixty minutes. Vultures who peck and sneer and tell me they don’t understand me, “what did the muchacha say?” Yes, because I can’t explain for toffee when you’re eye-balling me like I’m the last papa con mojo left on the table. A small, rounded, youthful potato waiting to be stabbed by your fork. Breathy, I feel my throat clench up and suddenly I feel like I might actually die. Panic radiates through my kneecaps and I wither like a flower, pen pointing shakily at the board, as if I actually know how to write in a straight line on one of those things. As I attempt an explanation, I start to confuse myself about when we use get on, get up, get off. “Get down?” she asks. And all I can think about is Kool and the Gang.
Desiring only speaking and listening practice, the hour passes and I feel my heart thump to the beat of the creaking ceiling.. (leaky pipes, we suspect. Possible zombie? Hard to tell.) I’m a third of your age, but somehow I’m omnipotent in this room of horrors and it’s up to me to provide insight. Yet she, with her Goldilocks should-be-grey-by-now barnet, who towers over me even whilst seated, plagues me with her questions and commands and “escribeme ese muchacha” without even a por favor gracing her lips.
I know I’m mousey and fragile-looking. I know I have the demeanour of Tweety Pie and as much presence as that abandoned stapler, flung to the floor without a care, but I mean something. Here, I am the goddess with all the answers, and you are all peasants, seeking refuge in my moth-eaten knowledge and comfort in my flat-chested bosom. I might hunch my shoulders forward when you address me, and I might stand at the front with my feet shuffling because looking natural has never been my forte. But I mustn’t feel bullied by your heavy glare or weighty experience, because I’m learning. Nobody should make me feel smaller than I am. I’m already only 5ft3.