just ponderin'

… on english as a second language and sister katherine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASadly, if you have just pulled up your chair with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (or both) hoping to read about nun-based hilarity, you are going to be disappointed.

I thought I’d just tell you right off, in case you are short on time or have another date this morning.

Sister Katherine is not a nun.

Nor is she my sister.

Sister Katherine is part of a friendship triangle that goes back many, many years.

This triumvirate includes myself, Sister Katherine, and Lo.

Short for Lorinda.

I dunno how she got the name (‘Lorinda’. I do know how she got ‘Lo’.)

She’s from Detroit.

And though I can attest to you (cuz you cannot see her) that she is entirely caucasian, she may have been – in the inimitable words of Steve Martin – “born a poor black child.”

She was, indeed, one of the only white people in the schools she attended growing up. This is neither here or there for most purposes, but makes for a hell of a fun time when the School Ethics Officer (yep, there is one of those in her town, not kidding) tries to make the point that the people here don’t know what it is like to be a minority in the public schools.

Lo always raises her hand, and it’s pretty funny to see what happens next.

Also, I call her ‘Lo’ vs. ‘Lorinda’ because, when we met, I could never remember her name, so I asked if I could call her ‘Lo’ because ‘Lorinda’ was so long.

She said yes, I could.

As long as she could call me “Lee” because “Lisa” was also a bit long for her.

Deal.

So we were “Lee and Lo” and worked together for many years and stayed friends for longer.

And there was also Sister Katherine.

Who is old.

Wicked old.

Actually, we have no idea how old she is.

She could be our age, but she is mature, while we are decidedly not.

Plus she always wore pearls.

Like, Every. Single. Day.

Hence, ‘old’.

And since she spoke quite matronly, and wore the pearls, she somehow reminded us of a nun.

So we named her Sister Katherine and, no, she didn’t have a say in the matter.

Okay, do you have all that?

Good.

So the other night, I got an e-mail from Sister Katherine telling me she was very excited to hear of the Nearly Perfect Husband’s and my “smoochiversary” (it was the 30th anniversary of our first smooch on Groundhog Day).

Sister Katherine said she was going to incorporate the concept of a smoochiversary into a lesson for her ESL class (Sister Katherine has been voluntarily teaching English as a Second Language classes for many years now, and she is awesome at it and very devoted and isn’t that nice?)

So I thought she was kidding.

But here is what I got from her, via e-mail (I simply cut and pasted), last night. I’m putting the whole thing in italics so it is easy for you to tell her voice from my own. That is called ‘user-friendly’. And I am all about that.

From: Katherine (last name redacted for important bloggy security reasons)

To: Lisa Dingle

Subject: A fundamental flaw in my lesson plan

When teaching non-native English speakers an exciting new word like smoochiversary, it is essential to first explain that smooch means kiss.  I had it on the board and explained that they were “getting in on the ground floor” (thus incorporating an idiom lesson into the new vocabulary lesson) and asked if anyone could guess what the word meant.  I looked out a sea of puzzled faces.  Not to be deterred, I drew a line between “smooch” and “iversary”.  They were furiously scrawling the word into their notebooks and someone offered a timid “maybe a birthday?”.  Finally, someone asked “What is a smooch?”.  My ah-hah moment!  So, in my best teaching style, I puckered up and let loose.  Yep – they were all still a bit confused.  They also have follow up questions for you.  Here they are: 

  • Sofya, my 70ish Russian woman wanted to know why so long between first kiss and marriage to your nearly perfect husband.  In here day, in Russia, if you weren’t married within some number of months less than a year a breakup was in the offing.  ( I assured her that John is nearly perfect and your one and only husband.)
  • Laura, my 17-year-old Colombian au pair wanted to know how you knew when smooching the nearly perfect husband for the first time that he would be the nearly perfect husband? 
  • Miriam, my 30 something Egyptian student wanted to know how many potential nearly perfect husbands you smooched before picking John.  Honestly, I did not give her the impression that you were some sort of wild hussy out puckering up for just anyone!
  • Simon, my 50 something Korean man wanted to know if he is required to still celebrate his smoochiversary with the girl he smooched on a beach while at university (and I think the ex-wife and mother of his children).  I assured him he could have a pass on this as I am pulling for no smoochiversary celebrating with exes!
  • Wilson, my twenty something student from El Salvador laughed at most of this conversation.  I think he was lining up potential smoochees.  He left class in a big hurry tonight. 

<User friendly notification of the end of Sister Katherine’s e-mail

People I am so excited!

I am pretty dang certain that this is the very first one of my brand new words that has made it into a linguistical education-y venue!

I wrote sister Katherine back right away and said that.

I also told her that there are just not enough words in the english language for me.

Me and Dr. Seuss.

As a matter of fact, I gotta go, because now that I’ve a-snoozed, I was about to indulge in some roast beast (and maybe even a follow up schlopp). Then I’m gonna head out past the truffle trees and try to find the Lorac.

I hope I don’t run into the Wickersham brothers.

Thanks for readin’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA* As always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment or just hang out.

Elena Peters

midlife blogger & pinterest master

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