I recently suffered defeat as an advocator of the underdog, a promoter of the lowly, a defender of the defensive. I’m licking my wounds for the attempt to promote French in the public school system. “Ha!” you say. “No one learns French anymore. Spanish is what everyone speaks.” And that is what most people think, including the school system where I live. Spanish has become the default language of our country.
I have a different perspective. Spanish is useful, I can’t argue that. It also wins a popularity contest, and as a misfit, I have to argue that as a quality of the language. I don’t care about popularity anymore. Being popular was important eons ago when I was sitting in the classroom and the popular girl next to me with her big hair and fake smile would turn to me and glare.
In French class, though, I could return the favor to the stupid popular girl who didn’t know how to conjugate être. I was the student the teacher counted on to understand the question she asked the class. I could respond with assurance the correct answer and not make a single grammatical mistake. She asked dumb questions like “Quel shampooing emploies-tu?” (“What shampoo do you use?”) The answer was easy, “Aussie”. Idiots answered the same question with a perplexed look on their face, “Voiture?” (“Car?”).
This gave me a morsel of confidence during those difficult years of trying to figure out who I was. French was my strength, my claim to possessing intelligence, my popularity “f* you”. The birth of a lifelong love of French came to me in a windowless room with beige colored walls displaying posters of the Eiffel tower and words like “Bienvenue”. In the hallway I was a nobody, but once I walked through that door, I was a somebody.
I’ve grown to accept my position as an underdog and a misfit. As a well-intentioned person, though, is it any wonder that I advocate my passion so that children might have a something that makes them a someone? Am I so crazy?