Saturday, June 07, 2003

A few years ago at my old job I got the idea to learn some Spanish, partly because we had a number of Mexican workers who spoke little English and partly because I was bored. Since I was and still am a cheapskate, I searched for discount learning materials. One thing I found was a set of six 90 minute cassettes and 300-plus page book geared at businessmen that had originally cost $50, but had been marked down to $13. An incredible deal, I thought. So I ordered it.

After a couple of weeks, the tape set came in the mail. I opened the book to the first lesson and put the first tape in the stereo. In an instant I found out why these tapes had been so greatly discounted. The man reading the lessons was obviously a professional voiceover person, but he was entirely the wrong guy for this particular job. How can I describe him? The only words that come to mind are intense and creepy.

Listening to these tapes made me think of nothing else but being held at gunpoint by a lunatic who'd made it his personal mission to teach me Spanish. I wish I could include a .wav file of the guy.

As I listened, I kept expecting him to suddenly drift off into something more sinister than businessman vocabulary: "First listen to the conversation, then repeat the sentences after me. At night I hide in the bushes outside your house. I watch you when you go the bathroom." I've never even listened to one of these tapes all of the way through.

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