Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tale of a Textbook

I have moved this book 8 times since university, dutifully packed and unpacked and shelved it, 8 bloody times. I’m not sure why I have done this. I’ve not even turned a single page of it since 1993. I’m not even sure what it is titled (but I’ll check if you want me to). It is a beginner’s coursebook for Russian and it is dustily taking up space on the bottom oak plank of our living room bookshelf.

This book and I spent some serious and not-so-serious face time together in the Fall of ’93, Russian 120. I’m not joking when I say that my instructor’s name was Evilina (although it may have been spelled differently), nor I am being funny when I reveal that she really was well, evil, and no better moniker could have been appointed her. She was also a truly awful teacher and it was rumoured that she had been given the position because her husband was a highly coveted oceanographer on the science side of campus. Who knew science took precedence over language? Damn salmon.

My fellow students and I took great delight in mocking while imitating Evilina from the safety of the SUB pub most afternoons. I remember 2 of my cohorts as well as can be expected, Brian and Rebecca, both smart and gorgeous and hysterically witty. One afternoon saw me with too many drinks under my skirt making a serious attempt to kiss Brian. Or Rebecca. Not sure. But, in Russian, of course.

I don’t remember why I took the course, whether it was a required credit or just to satisfy my fickle and geeky yearning to start reading Russian poetry in its mother tongue, if not uncensored, at least untranslated. Either way, I only acquired the vocabulary to say “hello”, formally and informally, “thank you”, and “goodbye”, all of which I could have surely learned by watching Saturday afternoon reruns of The Hunt for Red October.

I could still crack that book and study solo but somehow I would rather just pack and unpack and dust or not dust the book that lent me a little knowledge but reaped so many memories. Spacibo.

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