In Dutch class the other day
In Dutch class today we were learning the words for facial features, the teacher supplementing the book with things people actually say, noting that they may not be particularly polite. Big ears, little ears, flappy elephant ears. Big nose, small nose, sharp nose, vulture beak, potato shnoz.
In the process of doing this she naturally pointed out the feature she was speaking about on her own face while writing the terms on the chalkboard. Unsurprisingly, this lead to her wearing a big smear of white chalk on her lower lip.
My current teacher generally does 90% of the speaking in class, so we are pretty used to sitting passively. We sat there passively while she wore her new chalk lipstick. Gradually it became clear that she was not wiping it away.
She kept talking, we all held very still. Started shooting glances at each other. Are you going to tell her? Held still some more. By now she was talking about eyes and ears and curly hair, so if someone said something now it would be clear to her that she had been wearing it for some time, us saying nothing. Plus now it would be obvious that all of us had been conspirators and accomplices in not telling her. To say something now would be to betray the code of silence we had all stumbled into.
She moved on to eyebrows and we no longer snuck glances at each other, all just hoping she would happen to wipe it away before seeing a mirror or walking out the door. If it was still there when class was over I was going to run out the door and not look back.
She told us how to say “cleft chin” and then was telling us the expression for a cleft palate when the giant and extremely serious Pakistani man interrupted- “Uh, sorry mevrouw, uh, you hebt, um, witte…chalk on your…lippen.”
Suddenly I found an urgent need to write down some notes, and look intently down at my paper as I did so.
In Dutch class the other day we were doing an exercise on the present perfect tense, producing sentences like “I have already made an appointment with the lawyer” and “I have already baked a cake.”
The Dutch word for “cake” is “cake.” Convenient for me, but not for the giant Chechnyan guy. Apparently the Russian word for cake is not “cake.” Thus his utterance of “I have already baked a cake” turned into “I have already baked a kaka.” Kaka being of course, poop. He had a very good sense of humor about it.