PART TWO: Right. I was taking English 3, World History, Chemistry, Comparative Anatomy & Physiology, Algebra, and French 2. I was on the swim team. I had weekly music lessons, daily practices, and I played in two orchestras and had gigs. Mother Panda had forced me kicking and screaming into church activities for youths during the week and weekend. I was drowning in this very full plate; I was unbelievably over-scheduled; and now I had to teach myself French 1? When? I thought of the hour I reserved as mine to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. How indulgent. I should stop watching and make that French 1 catch-up hour. But I resented that I could not have one lousy hour to call my own! Screw French. I needed my Enterprise time.
Most of the other students were as overwhelmed as me, some even more so. French 2 took off and left half of the class forever behind. And sadly, my hearing issues are not limited to English. Not understanding the French vocabulary made it ten times worse, and her lectures transformed into boop-oux boop-oux STOP TALKING boop-oux boop-oux BOOP-oux bonjour bon appeBOOP STOP TALKING boop l’boop merci beauBOOP excusez-boop boopyboop STOP TALKING boop boop-oux BOOOOOOOOP-”
Mrs. Moscow was displeased with us. She picked up languages with the ease that toddlers pick up ear infections, speaking English, French, Spanish, Russian, and German fluently. In her summers she traveled around the world to hone her skills further, leading to her purchase of a bright red I LOVE MOSCOW pajama dress. How does Gay Panda know about Mrs. Moscow’s pajamas? Because, children, she wore it to school. Frequently. One week, she wore it every single day. On Monday, she loved Moscow. I took little note of it. But on Tuesday, she loved Moscow again. I wondered if she’d forgotten that she’d worn it the day before. On Wednesday, she loved Moscow once more. Maybe her washing machine was broken. On Thursday, there she was, still loving Moscow in her jammies as she told us to stop talking stop talking stop talking stop talking stop talking stop talking. On Friday, I couldn’t wait to get to class. She was wearing it again! Mrs. Moscow loved that damn pajama dress.
How did the French 1-free students pass? Did they? Yes, because we all cheated. One boy had a beautiful strategy. He sat on his cheat sheet and then spread his legs to read it. I sat by the heater in the back. Our desks ran right up to the back wall and were tightly packed, so she could never sneak up behind me and usually she didn’t pace the rows anyway. I just taped my cheat sheet to the hidden side of the heater. Others did more traditional methods of hiding it in their sleeves or writing on their arms, and one was caught that way. Absolutely furious, Mrs. Moscow dragged her out the door and to the principal’s office. But there was just no other way to survive.
Colleges wanted three years of a foreign language but I was falling farther and farther behind, and spending another year in a replay of stop talking stop talking stop talking boop-oux s’il vous BOOP stop talking boopyboop d’boop stop talking STOP TALKING boop-oux boop-OUX boop boop-boop-boop stop talking stop talking stop talking stop talking stop talking was more than one young panda cub could stand.