Needing something to get me by before my next trip home, I stopped by Target to check out their selection of tape players. And by ‘selection’ I mean I had my choice between the $10 model and the $50 model. Not wanting to invest heavily in old technology, I picked up the lesser one with the assumption that it would only need to get me through a couple weeks.
This afternoon, I assembled my makeshift classroom, consisting of the tape player, fresh batteries, Tape 1A and a workbook. I popped the tape in and I was off to las razas. In no short amount of time, I was devouring the material, repeating quips and phrases and slowly calibrating my gringo tongue. Halfway through the first side of the tape, I could start to hear a slight squeal in the background of the audiophile-quality headphones that were included with the bargain bin tape player (there’s literally a label on the cord saying that it contains cancer-causing metals – nothing but the best!). No matter, I pressed on through rolling r’s and those always sneaky ñ’s, occasionally tapping and shaking the player in a [sometimes successful] effort to restore proper operation. While my pronunciation may not be the best, I could sense that Juan was starting to tire as the words he presented me with were becoming more and more drawn out.
“¿Como estás?” queried Juan.
“¿Como estás?” I dutifully repeated.
“¿Cooommooo essstááásss?” Juan drawled out.
“¿Como estás?” I repeated back to the tiring Juan.
Juan’s fatal and final words hung in my ear as the tape player expired in my hands, thus concluding my first Spanish lesson.