Spanish Memories

As our 10-year reunion fast approaches for the Ellensburg Class of ‘96, I am documenting some long-forgotten high school memories. Last month I covered Biology class, now it’s time to look at Spanish…

Technically, we were learning a second language. However, we were being taught at an infantile level. Even after graduation, it’s not like we could go to Mexico and discuss politics or world affairs in Spanish. Our vocabulary was limited to the alphabet and the primary colors. Unless a Mexican two-year old wanted to strike up a conversation about counting to ten, I wouldn’t have much to contribute.

Aside from that, it was all buen (good)…

The Dry Erase Boards:

Every so often, our Spanish teacher would pass out Sharpies and dry erase boards to the entire class. The learning objective was simple: She would say something in Spanish, and we would transcribe it with the correct spelling and punctuation.

That was the intent, anyway. The instant the teacher turned her back, Solo would raise his dry-erase board overhead for the entire class to see the remarkably detailed depictions of sex acts he had drawn. I would then give Solo a thumbs up for his efforts, as I’ve always believed in supporting the arts.


I tried to interject my own slang into Spanish class, just to provide some levity for myself. For instance, “cool” was “frio.” “Manchild” was “hombre-nino.” “Sweet” was “dulce.” And so forth…

The best way to illustrate this is to read my Spanish project from my Junior year. You can access it here. Trust me, it’s worth a click over.


Oh Raquel, will you ever locate the bastard child of Don Fernando?

In an effort to learn conversational Spanish, we were forced to watch episodes of the Spanish soap opera Destinos. For those unfamiliar with Destinos, allow me to summarize the plot:

Don Fernando is old and very sick. Muy malo. On his deathbed, he summons the Mexican female equivalent of Magnum PI (Raquel Rodriguez) to his hacienda to help him resolve a troubling issue from his past.

In his younger days, Don Fernando was a soldier. After the war, he fled Spain and went underground to Argentina. There wasn’t a reason given, but presumably he was a war criminal. Muy atrocities. In his flight out of the country, he left behind his wife and child, and started a new family. Muy philandering.

Now living in Mexico, he tries to atone for the mistakes of his past. Lying on his deathbed, he clutches a faded picture of his abandoned child. “Mi hijo,” he repeats ad nauseam for dramatic effect. And that is where Raquel comes in…

The dialogue is exclusively in Spanish, so much of the details of the storyline are lost in translation. But why is he so desperate to find this child now? Is he worried about being incriminated? Does he need an heir to run the cartel? And let’s not forget, at this point, his “child” would be about 70 years old.

Gaping plot holes aside, Raquel must now travel to every corner of the third world to find Don Fernando’s lost son. And we, the audience, get to share in the adventure and intrigue on the edge of our seats.

Yo Veo:

Translated, it means “I see.” And I owe my “A” in Spanish to those two words. A big part of our grade was conversing in Spanish, and I found that I could reply to virtually any statement in Spanish with a simple “I see” and it created the illusion that I was able speak fluently. For instance:

The Teacher: “Yo quiero planchar la ropa a las tres y media.” (I like to iron clothes at 3:30.)
Me: “Yo Veo.” (I see.)
Me: “Adios.” (Goodbye.)

Oh, and I always tacked on an “Adios” to signal that the conversation was over. And that my friends, is how you flow fluency like a rio de buen agua (river of good water.)

10 thoughts on “Spanish Memories”

  1. somehow everybody remembers my infamous dry eraser drawings. i believe i composed 2 or 3 drawings being that it was a series. maybe i should’ve thought of my future a little wiser. now everybody speaks spanish to me, and i can only respond with, “no hablo mexican,” sorry.

  2. Muy bueno, mi hijo. Imagine how dificil it was for una madre to have siete anos of Espanol and have a son who no habla espanol muy bien!

    I remember coming to visit your high school Spanish class one day when I was “in the neighborhood”, and saw for myself why that teacher had a breakdown. When Solo mispronounced (read “butchered”) every Spanish word, the teacher would then say it correctly, expecting him to repeat the correct pronunciation. Solo would always answer the same way…”Whatever..” Teachers love that. I’m so glad he kept up the piano lessons; he was never going to make it as a translator.

  3. My best memory from spanish is from my first year of spanish. I sat next to Dubber. We got a homework assignment returned to us. He got an A with a smiley face on his paper. The only thing is that it was his biology homework in english and labeled biology paper. Ahh the quality of an EHS education.

  4. You know, I never had this infamous teacher, and it bummed me out so much that I would skip other classes and go and sit in on her classes. Her being the kind and generous teacher that she was (actually it was just her being oblivious to everything) she would treat me just like her other students and give me pesos for doing absolutely nothing. What a gal. I was actually only there to bum chews from seguel and visit with dennis and nick. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was actually in her gradebook by the end of the quarter.

  5. thanks for taking it easy on me la madre de centaur. i know you could’ve mentioned how loud and obnoxious i was. of course that did make me popular.

  6. Great post! I never took Spanish in school, my fate was German becasue someone once told me it was closer to English…’I pity the fool’

    Nevertheless, I have similar memories, cunning classroom ploys and catchphrases that would get me out of the teacher’s line of fire.

    10 years later and I was teaching English to kids in Tokyo. This time I was behind the trigger, metaphorically speaking of course, and I can now honestly say that I feel deep regret for all the mayhem I caused as a youth in the name of being ‘cool’, becasue to be the teacher on the receiving end is no joy I can tell you :(

    Still, gotta love those big penis drawings on the blackboard!

  7. I took 2 years of spanish and worked with some mexicans for about a year. Most of what I remember are the bad words from the mexicans I worked with go figure…

  8. The only thing I remember about 1st year spanish was Jon Carlson telling Mrs. Bugni that he wanted to sleep with her every time she called on him and her going “JUAN CARLOS!!!”…

    but then what about those fabulous days that she made food for us…esta muy bueno

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *