It’s amazing how many times in the recent years my memory turned to a teacher that had been gone for decades. Her name was Eugene. She was the most respected and feared English language teacher in all of the school. I was “lucky” enough to be assigned to her class at the formative age of 8. She was an older Jewish lady with a personality of a true Soviet Union survivor and the lingering smell of cheap papirosas on her clothes. Take no hostages!
Yet the most feared part of her class was the long wooden pointer stick, that seemed to reach the desks even in the far back of the classroom. The sure way to get Eugene outraged was to mess up on Present Perfect tense… I could close my eyes right now and see her pounding the wooden stick on the wall poster outlining the rules of Present Perfect when someone screwed up. “Present Perfect!!!” (Wham! Wham!) “Prrrrrrezzzent Perrrrfect!!!!” (Wham!!!) You knew then that what you did was sacrilegious and there was no forgiveness.
The stick never touched a human, but there was fear! Fear got us to study. Study got us to learn. Learn got me to go through life with a very decent command of English. I couldn’t imagine adapting to my new life here without at least the language as my ally. The very basics at first, but then more and more in depth, discovering local expressions, un adapted books, humor and now, speaking the language to my family. Learning the new language was the key to everything I am calling “my life” today.
Eugene, your “Prrrrrrezzzent Perrrrfect!!!!” did make my present perfect! Thank you! (but I am still afraid of that wooden stick!)
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