Let’s be clear. I don’t speak Spanish. I really hope the subject of this blog says “Happy May 6th!” and not something offensive. I did, however, take Spanish in high school and Cinco de Mayo has had a special place in my heart ever since. Or, to be truly honest, non-Cinco de Mayo has had a special place in my heart.
It might seem shocking to those who know me, but I was a good student. I did my homework, I was on time to class, and I still remember crying over my first B in 10th grade. (I brought it up, don’t worry!) My personal goal in Spanish 1 was not to get a good grade, but was to get a good grade without ever taking the book home. This goal probably came about because there were some dim bulbs in that class.
I’m not saying that the school environment is ideal for everyone, but I am saying you should sit up and pull it together. Even less enthralled with the quality of students in the class was our teacher, Señor Carter. Here was a man desperate for teachable moments. When Cinco de Mayo came around, he saw an opportunity and he jumped on it.
Because of our school’s block scheduling, we were not going to have class on actual Cinco de Mayo but we all thought we still deserved a party. It was agreed that we would have our party one day earlier when we did have class. Señor Carter, seeing a possible lesson to be taught, asked the class what we would call our party if it was on May 4th and not May 5th. There was a silence in the room. I refused to raise my hand and answer because, like any self-respecting teenage girl, I did not want to draw attention to myself. One much braver girl did raise her hand.
I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember most people’s names. It’s a problem I’m working on. For today, we’ll call her “Kimberly”. Kimberly was not the sort of girl who volunteered information in Spanish class. This might have been the first time she had voluntarily raised her hand. Seeing a chance to make a difference in a student’s life, Señor Carter called on her and anxiously awaited her brilliance to be revealed.
“Yes, Kimberly, what should we call our party?”
“It would be Cinco de Cuatro!!”
(The class ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s to reflect Kimberly’s brilliance)
(Señor Carter stands dumbstruck that a large majority of the class has been under his tutelage for 9 months and accepts this to be a brilliant idea)
“Actually, Kimberly, that would be “Five of Four”. If we wanted to say “May 4th”, we would need to say “Cuatro de Mayo.”
(Class sits in confused silence)
Of all the things I learned in Spanish class that year, that and the knee-jerk answer of “muy bien, y tú?” have stuck with me the most. Every May 4th I make sure to shout “Cinco de Cuatro!” a few times throughout the day. This year, I would like to turn what was a celebration of high school stupidity into a positively misguided attempt to celebrate another culture’s holiday.
In that vein, let me formally invite you all to Automatic Improv’s Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 6th. Sure, it’s one day off the real holiday, but you just might remember it forever. I’m sure that, much like my high school class, you’ll hear some poorly-mangled Spanish and overly-exaggerated accents. Unlike my high school class, you’ll be encouraged to laugh at the mistakes and you probably won’t have to conjugate anything.
Be there, we won’t care what you call it. I’ll be calling it “Cinco de Seis”.