To say that I have a talent for languages would be like saying that the Hindenburg was fireproof.
Yes this get’s to Pop Rocks and Coke. It just takes a little bit, please bear with me.
Being raised Jewish, I attended Hebrew School from Kindergarten to the Seventh grade. That whole time I was given classes in how to speak Hebrew. I managed to get to the point where I could memorize the sounds enough to get through my Bar-Mitzvah. In Middle School, and again in High School I attended French language classes. I managed to learn to conjugate verbs, but that was about it. When I briefly attended college before joining the military, I took French classes. I managed to pass the first level, but couldn’t advance any farther than that, despite multiple attempts.
In the year 1999 I re-classed from Multi-Media Illustrator to Psychological Operations Specialist. Part of that switch involved taking a test that would rate my ability to learn another language quickly. The Army, in it’s infinite wisdom, and with a total lack of knowledge about my history with studying foreign language, determined that I would be an excellent language student.
I myself had some doubts about the accuracy of this test.
And since I demonstrated so much potential the Army decided that I could be best applied to one of the more difficult languages, and sent me to Arabic School.
Six months later I mainly learned that if you speak Arabic really slow and in a deep voice, you sound like Jabba the Hutt.
Example: (Say this slowly and in a deep voice)
“Ismee Jabba. Min abookoo Solo? Ho-ho-ho!”
Roughly translated this means “I’m Jabba. Whose your daddy Solo? Ho-ho-ho!”
Basically I spent half a year, sitting in an academic environment, flailing wildly, and not succeeding beyond the vaguest and most minimal of benchmarks. The military rates a soldiers ability with a language on a scale of zero to three. I scored a zero plus. This meant that by Army standards I could communicate in Arabic better than a random person off of the street. But only barely.
I’m sure that everyone reading this has had at least one class where they just did not get the subject matter, and had a lot of trouble absorbing the information. And after half a year of this I was going stir crazy.
And then I came up with a clever idea to entertain myself in class. I bought a package of pop rocks and a Coke, and went to class. During a lull in the teaching, I stood up, declared that I couldn’t take the stress any more, and that I was going to end it all now.
Needless to say, this startled my classmates. And then I poured the Pop Rocks into my mouth, and washed it down with a giant mouthful of Coca-cola.
Once they realized what I had done, the other soldiers and the instructor laughed, and we went back to our lessons.
And then I burped. For a solid five seconds straight. And then again. And again. And I began to feel a pressure in my stomach, as if I couldn’t belch fast enough to deal with what I had swallowed.
I can say from experience that Pop Rocks and Coke won’t kill you. But it will cause you a tremendous amount of discomfort.
At one point as I suffered through what could best be described as the worst gas pains of my life, the guy sitting next to me leaned over and said “Don’t take this the wrong way or nothing, but if your guts explode that would be really cool to see.”
While I agreed that it would be really cool to see, I couldn’t help but feel that it would be way cooler if it wasn’t happening to me.