The English conversation class met in the crowded, dark basement of an old building as if they were meeting for something much more illicit than just talking. Stacks of hard-backed Merriam-Webster’s 11th editions in their exuberant red paper covers lined the walls like carnival prizes. Somebody’s ironic sense of humor, Samantha always thought when she entered the room.
Samantha passed out copies of the newspaper while the students trickled in. The handful of Mexican construction workers sat together near the back. The Middle Eastern girl with gorgeous eyes took her seat near the front. A couple of Asian boys slouched in their seats in the corner. The adorable French pair of exchange students huddled front and center, giggling.
Samantha finished passing out the newspapers and returned to the front of the room. She wrote a few simple sentences on the whiteboard to get the students started in their conversations. As she was writing, a tall man with a shaved head and a leather jacket came to the doorway. “Go ahead, everyone. Find a partner and start with introductions,” Samantha announced. “Come in, take a seat,” Samantha said to the newcomer.
He paused at the front and considered the room, then sat down next to the exchange students. “Hello, ladies,” he said with a smile.
The exchange students laughed. “Hi,” they said in unison.
“I’m Jack,” he said. “What can I call you ladies?”
“Ooh, Jacques,” one of the girls answered. “Are you French?”
“No,” Jack said. “I’m from Minnesota.”
Samantha chuckled. This guy has no idea where he is, she thought. “Okay, class,” she said, “take a look at your newspapers. Go ahead and ask your partner something about the headlines.”
Jack turned to the girls. “I overheard a good joke on the train here,” he said. “Want to hear it?”
“Yes!” the girls laughed.
“Okay, here goes. What did the thespian frog say when it ate the other thespian frog?”
The girls huddled together. “What’s ‘frog’?” one asked, giggling.
“Grenouille,” the other answered.
“Oh! Oui! Oui!” the first girl burst out.
“Ew! Cannibalisme!” Both girls dissolved into laughter.
“Wait,” said the first girl to Jack. “What is a thespian?”
“I don’t know,” Jack admitted. He looked up at Samantha. “Can I borrow a dictionary?” he asked.
She nodded, watching things play out.
Jack took a dictionary off the stack and carried it back to his desk. The girls giggled as he read them the definition.
All of a sudden, the Middle Eastern girl jumped out of her seat and grabbed her things. She walked over to Jack and the French girls and shouted, “It’s not thespian! It’s lesbian, and we taste like chicken! Poulet,” she said emphatically to the girls, then stormed out.
“Whew!” Jack said to the girls. “She didn’t have much of a sense of humor for a comedy class, did she?”
“Comedy class?” Samantha laughed. “This isn’t a comedy class. It’s an English conversation class.”
“An English conversation class?” Jack mumbled, staring mystified at the dictionary in his hands. “What day is it?”
“Damn, I thought it was Thursday. I’m in the wrong place. Girls, can I buy you some drinks?”
“Oui, oui!” they said in unison.
They stood to leave together, and one of the girls asked, “What’s a lesbian, Jacques?” Jack laughed and handed her the dictionary on their way out.
Samantha smiled at the class. “Well, I guess they started a conversation, huh?”
My attempt at a botched joke for this week’s Tipsy Lit prompt. Maybe I need to sign up for a comedy class myself!