I decided to do a little experiment, wherein I write a post to people throughout my life that I'm grateful to, whom I never got to thank. We'll see if turns out to be boring.
The first person I'm grateful to is a boy from Salt Lake City, who was my second-grade classmate. It was a year after my family moved to the US, and I was still learning English. This proved aggravating on a daily basis. I didn't know the right words to protest when another student stole my dessert at lunch, I failed an assignment because I couldn't understand the instructions, etc.
One day the teacher announced that we were going to play the game of telephone. The other American students got excited and moved to sit in a big circle on the carpet. I convinced one of them to slowly explain the rules to me. Needless to say, when I learned that the goal is to comprehend a English sentence and repeat it back to the next person, I became filled with apprehension.
I sat a third of the way down the circle, and watched as the teacher whispered for several seconds into the first student's ear. Her face lit up, and she chuckled as she repeated it to the next student. The sentence moved rapidly around the circle, and within a couple minutes, the girl to my right was whispering a long string of syllables into my ear.
To my horror, I could not decipher any meaning out of what she said.
I made her repeat it.
I still didn't understand it. At my insistence, she repeated it two more times, with growing exasperation. Finally, I turned with dread to the boy to my left, and regurgitated the first few syllables which I had blindly memorized.
They were "super california."
The boy to my left heard my accented syllables, and immediately said, "Don't worry. I know what it is." He was so reassuring.
He turned to the kid to his left, and by the muffled whispering, I knew that somehow he actually got the phrase out of what I said. And the phrase kept going around the circle.
Years later, I watched "Mary Poppins" for the first time, and realized that the teacher -- in her infinite wisdom -- had chosen the phrase "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
I still remember the exact expression and tone of voice when that boy said, "I know what it is." He was really kind. Thank you, boy of unknown name from Salt Lake City.