When I was a freshman in high school way back in the spring of 1994, I took a school trip to Spain. When I heard yesterday’s comments from Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski—about the future and playoffs—I couldn’t stop thinking about that trip and one thing in particular: Lladró. It’s very random. and of course I will explain, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Lladró. For those not in the know, Lladró are little porcelain figurines made in Spain. There are holiday themed ones, little kids, animals, ballerinas and all kinds of various figures available for purchase. There are different collections and series and people collect them and display them in their homes, more often than not protected behind glass in a curio cabinet of some sort.
Prior to leaving for Spain, our group went over the itinerary—we would be visiting places like Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo and Costa del Sol—and my teacher talked about Lladró and what they were and the different places they could be purchased. It was less costly to buy these figurines in Spain and bring them back than it was to order them and have them shipped. I listened and took it in, but I could not have cared much less about pretty little figures that should sit behind glass in one of those stuffy rooms in a house that nobody is supposed to really live in. I think I was 15 at the time of the trip, so this is understandable.
The Words of Chud
“We won’t stand for losing.”
“We made too many critical mistakes we were not
able to overcome today. We won’t stand for losing.
We’re going to get this fixed; it’s unacceptable.”
“We have to play better in all three phases.”
“I’m disappointed in our performance as a team.
We have to play better in all three phases. Our
veterans have to play better, our young guys have
to play better and it needs to happen right away.”
“I feel good about our identity.”
“I feel good about how we’re building a culture and
identity here. That doesn’t happen overnight; it takes
time. … I think that the fans are seeing that, are
appreciating how we play.”
In all, I think there were seven or eight students plus our Spanish teacher. It was a great trip and the teacher who took us there was a nice person. But this trip was two weeks long and as anyone who has traveled in a group can attest, it’s nearly impossible to travel for that long and not end up grating on each other’s nerves. A slow, steady minor grating occurred.
As we landed in Madrid, there was talk of Lladró. Toledo? More Lladró talk. It wasn’t just the word Lladró, but the way it was spoken. It was being pronounced with a precise Spanish1, but when an American says Spanish words a little too perfectly with the rest of the words around it sounding American-ized it’s really kind of annoying. It’s why people despise Alex Trebek’s pronunciation of ethnic words on Jeopardy. Imagine Trebek speaking the word “Lladró” four times in a single Jeopardy answer. You’d want to reach through your television and stuff a sock in his mouth.
I don’t think a day went by that we didn’t hear about Lladró, to the point that the word itself was starting to have a really negative connotation among the students. We liked the teacher and supported the search for Lladró, but we just didn’t care.
Finally, as we were traveling across the Spanish countryside on a bus feeling tired and hot, my teacher said the word “Lladró” one too many times and the entire group of us must have collectively rolled our eyes. The teacher became annoyed and defensive, saying, “What?!? What did I say?” No one would respond as everyone simply tried to fast-forward time. I pretended as if I had never even been part of the conversation with my Discman and headphones on. Eventually, somehow, the moment passed.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with Lladró or the teacher or even any of us students. It was just the whole situation how it developed.
Yesterday, when Rob Chudzinski’s statements included phrases like, “long-term plan for sustained success,” and “our best days are ahead of us,” and “it is a bright future here in Cleveland,” all I could do was roll my eyes.
There’s nothing wrong with Chud saying those things, of course. I support him in his pursuit of them. It’s not even necessarily his fault because this is his first time saying these types of clichés to us. it’s just that we have heard them so many times before that it’s starting to sound like Alex Trebek repeating the word “biblioteca” over and over, complete with his linguistically infuriating over-pronunciation.
Chud continued, of course. “Our goal is always going to be to win a championship.”
And again. “Our goal is always going to be to make the playoffs. As far as expectations, as I’ve mentioned, the things that I expect are to see us working and moving in that direction and making the progress that I know needs to get done in order to get to those points and being able to do that.”
I thought of Lladró. I think I’ll just turn up my headphones now and hope the moment passes.