I don't generally care about how I look, what people think of the way I eat, what brand of perfume I'm wearing (though I seem to've collected a number under names like Givinchey, Clinique, and Estée Lauder) and if anyone observes such, it's all fine and dandy, but it ain't gonna lean me in one direction or the other. I would be an entirelly independent person if it were not for my constant need of reassurement in my aptitude at my foreign languages.
I have this French friend who learned upon my visiting him in Rennes, France that I'm pretty decent at speaking his mother tongue. The only complitment that he'll give me is, "C'est pas mal," (Oh how bloody French-of-a-thing to say!) and gives a three second pause, "pour un American," he ruthlessly finishes. What does that mean, anyway, when no Americans can speak French?! Honestly, I'd give my country a flighty half of 1% for their foreign faculties.
Last night I was at my weekly INCAS meeting, sitting at a table with some kids, one of whom, a German, I know a kinda well because we always chill there. He was telling this one Turkish guy that his Deutsch was very good. We asked him how long he'd been here, he answered 6 months. "Wow!" "Impressive!" were our replies in German. The Turkish fellow, in turn, asked me how long I'd been here and all-of-a-sudden it's become a compitition to certify that our capabilities are adequate for how long we've been been here and studied beforehand. In the end, my German friend conceded that we can all speak very good German and I was satisfyed. Please bear in mind that it was no sort of heated argument, only that we were all desperate for a native's adulation.