Okay, I know I'm intelligent, after all, my IQ is 140; so by all rights, I have some smarts….somewhere. Thing is, I think they're hiding in the recesses of my mind. Un-findable, untouchable, un-retrievable – lost to the ages in my mind – that's where they are…I think!

The problem is that I decided to take an intense course in (of all things) conversational Hebrew. Yes, I said Hebrew. For the beginner, it seems bad enough the words sound strange, but the letters are like hieroglyphics: squiggly here, straight there, some of the words have vowels; some in the text do not have vowels. What have I gotten myself into!

Now learning a new language is difficult enough in and of itself; but having to remember so many new words and phrases in one night is well, almost overwhelming! About the time I thing "I got it!" I find out….I don't! Then I go home and practice and practice and practice some more. I even have a friend who used to live in Israel, albeit for a short time, but she has been coming over in the morning after dropping her husband at work, and drilling me.

"Okay, Jerry, now all you have to do is give me a short answer. Ready? Here we go!" Then she starts. It sounds at times like blippity, bloppy, mizzy mo. It is just so bizarre to me. I can read it when it is in the prayer book, but to have someone just start speaking the language gets me more confused at times than educated!

What did you say? Oh hey! I know what you said! Oh, yes, I'm supposed to answer in Hebrew as well. Oh my, what was that question again? I got so excited in knowing what you said, that I actually forgot what it was you said! Gee, do you think I'll ever get it?

So here I am, disabled physically and challenged linguisticallyThen it's off to class on Tuesday nights. I drive to the synagogue where the class is held (and believe me, I am extremely thankful the only cost involved is for the textbook). I get my cane, book bag, courage, and whatever amount of intelligence happened to come along, and walk to the back door. I walk down the stairs and wait until the previous class is finished.

There are a couple of other students from my beginner's class sitting in the advanced class as well! No wonder they seem to be so smart – they are! They're already studying the next level. That must be why they know the answers and I get to sit there feeling fairly dumb (but I'm not dumb, just feeling a bit challenged).

As we enter the classroom and take our seats, my heart beats a good bit faster. Anticipation is what they call it; lack of intestinal fortitude is my definition! Oh no! The teacher's going to call on me next! What is she saying? Oh yeah, the fellow next to me knows the answer to his question, but… I knew it! She asked me something with at least two words I never heard before! Now what do I say?

I sit there in silence, begging for the floor to swallow me whole. It does not, and I feel like sinking into the recesses of the building; but can't. Nuts! I'm stuck here like a bump on a log, not able to answer the question; so what do I do? Like a ding bat, I stare and finally say, "Uh, what?" Now everyone's staring at me. Me and my smart answer!

It's not the teacher's fault; and it's not anyone else's fault. I just have a problem when it comes to learning languages. Yet, the teacher says I am doing quite well, and that I know a lot more than I think. Glad she thinks that! I need to feel like I know what I am saying.

Let me tell you how terrible it can be. When I visited Israel a few years back, I thought I had managed to learn a few necessary phrases. So one day I was at a little shopping mall, and had ordered lunch (a falafel pita and some tea), and sat down at the table to eat. When the man who ran the stand brought my lunch, I thought I would ask him where the bathroom was so I could wash my hands. So I asked him in my best Hebrew where the bathroom was. Little did I know that I had actually asked where the nearest taxi was! So, he's pointing across the street and at the bus stop, and I'm saying, "No, no. I want the bathroom (in "Hebrew"). Finally a kind gentleman came up and quietly asked if I was trying to ask for a bathroom. When I said I was, he proudly asked the man in proper Hebrew and then told me where to go! Talk about embarrassment!!!

So here I am, disabled physically and challenged linguistically; but I am quite capable of stumbling all over the place with either one! So, if you are considering taking a second language, may I be the first to congratulate you and wish you well. All I know is at the rate I'm going, I will definitely have this Hebrew language down in another couple of years. At least the beginners class stuff, that is!