day – 120 – Professor Brown -Part One

I remember, back in the day, way back when, around 1978-9, I chose to get a W (withdrawal) from the State University at Stony Brook in a French class.  A German professor who hated the French and certainly despised teaching the language was our Professor.

I thought it would be a no-brainer to take French 3 since I had excelled in and loved the French language all through junior and high school.  I had taken the NY Regent’s test in it and I had scored high.  J’aime beaucoup le francais. 

My dream was to go to France someday, especially the City of Light and actually speak French with French people in France.  Kind of like the kick I got out of watching a Russian Ballet in 2009, as they performed Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in St. Petersburg, where the great composer, whom I have always adored, wrote the famed dance.

French 3 with Professor Brown, the scowler, was an exercise in tediousness.  Exercise after exercise of mindless fill in the blank sentence structures and the conjugating of verbs without explanation or reason.  His snarling accent cut into the fluidity of French articulation as if he was spitting out glass.  He chopped and chewed up what was musically attractive to me about the French nasal and singsong pronunciation.  He destroyed the sexy sound; the grand cadence of a Latin based Romance language with all the dispassionate and frigid disinterest of a disrespectful ignoramus.  I had never heard such horrible French spoken, as if on purpose, had never witnessed such a burned out teacher, and all encompassed in the same person.

It was worse, literally, than nails on a chalkboard (which is what we used in those days).

I complained to the head of the department, Dr. Tursi, took a W, and dropped out.

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