My persistence in getting one of my Russian friends at work to teach me a few words has paid off.
I can ask him "how's it going?" when I come in, and occasionally, can remember what his response is going to be. I can say "Happy Birthday," and a couple of other words. I am hardly fluent, but it's great fun, and he is delighted that at least I try.
One day, I repeated something he was teaching me back to him, and he complimented my pronunciation. He said that because I speak another language already, I seem to pick up how things are supposed to sound.
"Thank you," I said, with a self-conscious giggle. I threw on a dramatic air, lowered my voice, and in the accent I could muster, said, "Just call me Natasha."
I expected to crack up my other coworkers in the area, and I knew I'd have to explain myself to my friend, but imagine my surprise that only two people (out of about six) got my reference to 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' (as that was the Natasha I was referring to).
Why, pray tell, did these people not get it?
Because they were too young. Too young to remember that cartoon! I started explaining, then stopped myself. It was too painful.
I whipped out a mirror to check the youth expiration date on my ass. It took me a minute as things in that vicinity shift at will and are never where they are supposed to be.
It appears my shelf life is up.