Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The French Lady Inside

If nothing else right now, one skill I am getting better at is asking for things I want and getting them. in French, mainly. Today, for example, I got what I wanted twice, and it was astonishing. Not so much that I got them, but just the way that I asked for them.

I am in St Malo and feeling bold and today I rang a lovely ex-race car driver in his home in Aix-les-Bains and set up a meeting between he and a car enthusiast family friend who will be driving an old car across Europe in August. I just rang the guy, from the phone book. You should have heard the politeness - I could hardly believe what was coming from my own mouth. Excusez moi de vous déranger monsieur, mais je suis sur une mission un peu particulière... and I went on and on and I was so measured and clear - it was like another person had stepped into my body. I liked her so much more than me. She used all sorts of good confident words and articulate phrasings, not only because she didn't have much more vocabulary than that, but because she didn't have the faculty to express the sheer wavering, unsure, terrified, lost, insecure, shivering, pathetic little wreck she had become of late. The gentleman warmed to this other character - she was charming, well-educated and enthusiastic without being an idiot in any way. There was no way of communicating the true her through this language she had formed through years of study and gradual assimilation, so here she was: Mademoiselle Megapolie. And even then, she wasn't so polite as to be annoying. She was just right.

Later, satisfied, I went and bought a big yellow skirt and sat in it at the café above the beach and put my feet up on the chair and felt slightly Bardot on the Riviera basking in the sunlight with my book and café crème. It didn't matter that it was way too late in the day to order a crème - the way I asked for it was so assured, no waitress could resist. And I took off my top because it was right and was reading my book when I realised how badly I needed a cigarette. There, to my right, was a young man sitting looking out to sea, smoking. And keeping the sure French lady inside of me I bounced over to him and said like chocolate Excusez-moi d'interrompre votre moment sublime... Would I ever really say that in my true life? Interrupt your sublime moment? Seriously?

I should. I want to try. But it's way easier to be the person you want to be in a different world in a different language. Being the one you really are is sometimes a real battle. 


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