Jeff's online journal, ramblings, whatever.

The name of the blog, or Una Pregunta. . .

Elder Proctor

Well, I think it’s time to explain the name of this blog. It is Spanish for “Do you like to read?” While appropriate for a blog just like that, the backstory comes from my mission in Spain. I served in a district with a senior missionary, Elder Proctor, and his wife. Elder Proctor was around 70 years old or so, and had never learned Spanish in his life. While his wife at least tried to learn some basics in order to communicate with the people of Spain, Elder Proctor never even attempted to do so. Instead, he wrote out an entire sales pitch for the Book of Mormon (he started his professional life out as a door-to-door vacuum salesman) and had another missionary translate it into Spanish, which he then memorized. Unfortunately, he memorized the written form, and consequently didn’t know how to pronounce anything in Spanish very well, so he had an absolutely horrendous accent. So whenever I went out to do street contacts with this man, he’d just brazenly walk up to anybody and rattle off this whole sales pitch regarding the Book of Mormon. Most of the time on my mission when we’d try to talk to Spaniards they’d wave us off, telling us that they were in a hurry and didn’t have time to get into a religious discussion at that point in time. However, when Elder Proctor would start, people would just stop and stare, transfixed at this crazy man who would gesture wildly, whose speaking was barely intelligible and who wouldn’t listen to their excuses, but just keep going on with his speech like a train wreck. He’d also frequently say, “Perdón mi poor español,” which isn’t even a valid Spanish phrase!

The first two lines of his spiel were “¡Una pregunta! ¿Le gusta leer?” which translates to “One question! Do you like to read?” Then, even if the person said “No,” he’d go on with it. Not only was the accent bad, but he threw in some gems in the speech like, “This book, completely in Spanish. . .” and “this proves that through the ages, more than forty principles were taken from the teachings of Christ.” While I suppose that’s correct, I wonder exactly what forty he was referring to, and I’m pretty sure that he just pulled them out of his own ear, and not from anything sanctioned by the missionary program.

The subtitle of the blog refers to a story one of my companions told me. He was on an exchange once shortly after Elder Proctor had arrived in the mission and hadn’t completely memorized his “le gusta leer” speech yet. He was giving it out to a guy when halfway through he forgot it in Spanish. He was in the middle of the line talking about these 40 principles that got lost over time, so what came out of his mouth went something like “más de cuarenta principios. . .Gone! Lost! D’you understand what I’m saying?!?” At this point he started waving his arms wildly in a futile attempt to communicate with the now thoroughly bemused man on the street, but to no avail.

Great guy, but man, that was an ineffective approach. He was worth a good story or two, though, like when he almost got me killed by driving the wrong way down a one-way street in Murcia, and got pulled over by a cop. We had gone so far on this wrong road that even the cop admitted that the only way we could get out of there was to keep breaking the law and driving down the street a pretty fair distance.

For your amusement, even if you don’t speak Spanish, I’ve uploaded his entire “¿Le gusta leer?” speech. Well, most of it; the tape ran out before he got to the end. You can get the gist of it, though.

Now playing: El niño querido – The King’s Singers – A Little Christmas Music
via FoxyTunes


3 responses

  1. Natán Winder

    Man, that’s a classic. My favorite words were “fantastico,” “escrituras,” and “pero” (pronounced like the last name of the guy who ran against Bush and Clinton in the 90’s).

    October 30, 2007 at 8:45 pm

  2. Haley

    Note to self – don’t attempt to speak Spanish around Jeff. Or anyone, for that matter.

    October 31, 2007 at 7:58 am

  3. Thanks for information.
    many interesting things

    January 12, 2008 at 2:21 am

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