Na segunda, 7/9-2008
Little details, often essential, regularly get lost in a new language. The mind, its own gearbox almost needs to accelerate to third gear before “the learning ears” turn on. My class is in its seven day. Our numbers have dropped from thirteen to eight or ten, (depending on the day); yet I really do not know everyone in my cooking class. At least I could not call them by name. I do have a clear sense of their personalities and character. I could say that I know some of their names, but just as words. In the beginning I was focusing on so many cognitive details that I did not associate names with people. I continually tripped over my nascent Portuguese culinary vocabulary trying to keep up with the lessons. I backed up all of the procedures and lectures with photographs. The camera’s viewfinder blocked clear associations with some of the individuals I sit next to.
I think that Janine (Ya neen-eey) spoke at the break as a light drizzle chilled the late morning. She stood up at the head of the class, Chef Jonilton had split for a moment, and she rattled out her opinion like a candidate in debate. Her name might not be Janine; it could be that she is Juranete (Yura neigh-tee). She pleaded a case for beauty. Without pause, she embraced the particular beauty and sensuous nature and appropriateness of men’s cologne. I was not quite clear of her intent. I listened as the others enjoined her treatise.
Suddenly, I realized that they were arguing the appropriate tactful gesture of gratitude that we could show to our teacher, Chef Josenilton. Each student cited his attributes, magnanimity, generosity, a thoughtful manner, etc. It sounded as though he had allowed a student to matriculate who could not afford the full tuition. Janine or whatever her name is carried on, gesticulating, pleading for the cologne. Did she have a schoolyard crush? Some folks thought her idea was leading and too personal? How could they choose his scent? They wanted to agree on something, but which one? Maybe gift certificate? “Agora todas as lojas tem promoção de presente,” she intoned; “Então vamos comprar um cartão comjunto, dividido entre nós!” We’ll buy it together. Continuing; she said that she would pick it up on her dime, estimating that it should cost about $7 reals each. Done.
Joao the chef’s commis eyes signaled for silence. He was facing the glass exit door and saw Chef about to turn the handle. Our elocutionist quickly became chatty and street trying not belie her previous intentions. I gazed at her as she took her seat and noticed that she had adorned the hairnets that we were all required to wear in class. She had attached a decorative wooden floral barrette on the outside of the muslin; the petals and corolla all of different exotic hardwoods. She seemed quite clear on her gender roles.
P.S. Two days later, I overheard the girls discussing their favorite colors. After a time, they asked some of us guys and then Chef….He ended up with a nice white and blue striped dressy sport shirt. He had said that ultramarine and black showed off his skin tones the best.