The Astonishing Mr. B

Do you speak Romanian, please? The Prime-minister asked. It was not for the first time he would do something like that. Let me tell you his story. Small of stature and rather stout had he not been endowed by nature with a face so round and cheeky, Mr. B was exceptionally sensitive to attacks to his personality. Lately though he just couldn’t help it, for which reason all the buzz was not about his small, but consistent set of skills that made him be where no other 19 million people chose not to (or just couldn’t), but a larger and larger bulk of defects so absurd that made one laugh.

Take his size, for example. Anywhere on this planet discrimination based on height would be harshly sanctioned by the civil society. Nobody likes when you take on midgets (or tall people, you know? Tall people have feelings too) or when you poke fun at some short individual with glasses. Double-strike, n’est pas? Not only was she deaf, but she was also ugly. Well, here is a case where the media dwelled hysterically on that one picture where mr. B, in the company of a rather tall, rough-edged person…ehh, meant to say woman but wasn’t sure, stepped on the tip of his toes just to be equal. We should have given him a round of applause. He would’ve generated a huge wave of sympathy in any other country and gained, forever, the vote of “height-challenged minorities”. But not in Romania. Here a number of midgets were very upset that the one most visible among them put them in this strange, even awkward position. Mr. B, a midget himself by some large standard, had exposed them. He had become the second, after the Porno-Midget, to bring this issue into the public arena, and that only by accident.

And now this. The avian flu, or better known – by those who would rather speak with a certain oriental fragrance sort-of accent, the “aviara gripa”. Mr. B had a freudian slip, perhaps? Or was it that he was speaking to his tutor, somewhere in the background, searching for some feed-back. His efforts, one cannot ignore, are laudable. He should stir some compassion, for pity’s sake, and encourage hordes of illiterates in that second language to go boldly where no member of their family had gone before. Anywhere on the planet. Not here. Here it was a total embarrassment. Leaders of opinion – or so they like to be called – publicly expressed that they too suck at foreign languages, they just don’t show that very often. Get a translator, that was the conclusion. God forbid you should try to improve. The astonishing Mr. B was again hunted down for his progressist views, his innate inquisitive manner. Compared with mr. Constanza, mr. B dreamed to be a Hobbit at time, except for the hairy feet and the flock of hair that lacked on his forehead. Certainly a hobbit would not be judged for not speaking the language of Mordor (which I will not utter here), right? Now, just a speck of dust in the wind, his public reactions follow the leading voice of his detractors. Anemically he tries, on and on, to get buddies-buddies with the journalists, his strategy clearer than ever. If you can’t beat them, join them.

He wouldn’t be the first, he certainly won’t be the last. One of my greatest hopes is that, once defeated, our President will start writing editorials, analyses, will be invited in shows where he’ll show his competency once again. Asa valiant representant of our society, he’ll do what most of us do, he’ll be the expert on the bench shouting at the sucker in the trench. And get money for that.

Dear mr. B,

This is from somebody for whom the English language is very special. A second nature, you might call it, I’ve spoken it for many years, traveled to many countries, some say my strange accent cannot be distinguished anymore if I had a couple of beers (are you from Portugal? they ask), I know it’s mine because i can shout it, I can whisper it, I can lip-sync it, joke in English, write in English, swear in English. I could speak to my doctor in English. That was hard, let me tell you. Harder than asking for directions I guess. So here’s an encouraging message for you. Keep trying, mr. B. Don’t let go. Don’t you let go. Be a nice hobbit now, will you? In the process, though, you might want to soak in all vocabulary you can master and then spit it out with the ugliest of accents. I’ll tell you a secret mr. B. People bothered by accent have an accent of their own. The idiots expect that speaking in foreign tongues should somehow “sound” like the original. Now that’s a lot of horse-crap if you ask me. Try listening to a scott speaking to an indian and an australian about the way to conduct yourself in Times Square. It’s immensely diverse. We are concerned about our “russian” accent? In my experience so are croatians, bulgarians, poles, chechz, and most of the baltics. Can’t be helped, mr. B. So keep on with your studies. You might one day be my Hero. And as lord Denethor tells it much better than me, that depends “on the manner of your return”.

Savvy?

G.

LE: Had to edit some typos in the text. Lucky I didn’t have to say it out loud:P

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