I wrote this a while back, and I thought it was funny so I figured I’d share it with you all. I originally wrote this story for The Banging Hot RomCom Book Club Newsletter. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this fantastically humiliating moment from my past. Ha!
Earning a degree in opera required me to learn the conversational basics of Italian, German, and French in order to graduate. I thought I had completed all of my language requirements by the end of my sophomore year in college. Turns out the university wouldn’t accept one of my summer school credits and no one told me until the final semester of my senior year! Due to the years-long gap between classes, most instructors wouldn’t admit me into their upper-level courses. However, after much begging, one German professor finally took pity on me.
I strolled into the first day of class and was greeted by a ridiculously good-looking guy—we’ll call him Herr. Williams (Yes. We had to use German titles in class). Emboldened by senioritis, I decided to do a little harmless flirting.
Looking at his well-defined arms, I recognized a street address in one of his tattoos and we got to chatting. Come to find out, we grew up close to one another and knew some of the same people. We were vibing…then class started.
It was immediately obvious that I did not belong there. Worse, Herr. Williams was fluent. His grandparents immigrated from Germany. He was only enrolled to keep full-time student status and he spent the rest of class looking at me like I was about as desirable as a box of weasels. My only saving grace was that the guy sitting on the other side of him, Herr. Norris, was his frat brother/best friend, and he was terrible at German, too.
I passed the first half of the term by avoiding Herr. Williams and singing German arias in place of oral presentations. That plan worked perfectly until the mid-term.
To pass the mid-term everyone had to have a 15-minute conversation with the head of the German department. Turns out arias did not prepare me and I couldn’t hold a conversation for more than three minutes to save my life.
I was sweating bullets when Herr. Norris popped into the office and in his best surfer-bro-butchering-a-foreign-language-accent asked to join us. The department head agreed and after two minutes of us aggressively struggling, Herr. Norris blurts out that his best friend is with Herr. Williams and generously suggested that he is my friend, too.
The department head looks euphoric. He knows Herr. Williams and thinks the world of him. He then asks me all kinds of personal questions about me and Herr. Williams, some of which I can answer thanks to our tattoo conversation, and others of which Herr. Norris answers. Together, we tell him that I’ve only known Herr. Williams for four months, but we grew up near each other and live on the same street now. Oddly, the department head asks if Herr. Williams has met my parents. I say no and shrug it off. Then Herr. Norris mentions their friend group is going to Las Vegas, and wouldn’t you know it, 15-minutes flew by.
Come Monday, Herr. Williams looks at me like I’m a psychopath. Eventually, he takes a deep breath and turns to me with way more trepidation than a guy his size needed to talk to a 5’3 girl in a sundress, and asks, “Did you tell the department head that I’m your boyfriend?”
Before I could respond, Herr. Norris says, “No, she didn’t say that. We said we’re all friends.”
Herr. Williams turned his beautiful brown eyes on me…and my heart stopped.
In that moment, I remember that the German word for friend and boyfriend are the same—freund. The differentiator is the context. My German was so bad that I inadvertently told the professor that Herr. Williams was my boyfriend, that we lived together for four months, and no, he hadn’t met my parents. Luckily, we were all going to Las Vegas soon.
Worst of all, while Herr. Norris had no clue, it was clear to both Herr. Williams and me that I had made up that he was my boyfriend…FOR 15 MINUTES.
Mortified, I said, “Nope. Didn’t say that. I’m gonna get a snack.”
Then, like the true queen I am, I ran and hid in the bathroom until after class started.
Hope you got a good laugh outta that. Someday, I’ll share Part II (Yes, it gets worse). Ha!