Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Can I have a Blow Job?

My Melbourne boyfriend had been to Paris and loved Paris but hadn't studied the language, so learnt it on the fly. Before long he was speaking the language of the street, learning verlan from the guys from the banlieue on the basketball courts, babytalk from our daughter, expressions from me that I hadn't yet mastered. I admired his courage - from the moment we hit Paris together he built his own world and thus language in French. People loved him for this, warmed by his ability to not be shy about standing naked inside something new. 

A friend reminded me of a moment yesterday that I have to write down. We were at Le Petit Fer à Cheval in the Marais for dinner with our daughter and friends visiting from LA. It was one of the older waiters that had been there forever taking our order. We asked for steaks, salads, wine and an Orangina for Kiki. At the last moment, my now Melbourne husband, wanted a straw for her. 

'Oh, et est-ce que je peux avoir un pipe?' he asked the waiter in his polite voice.

'Non,' responded the waiter with good humour and a firm voice, turning and walking away. 

My husband had mixed up the word for 'straw' (paille) with 'blow job' (pipe).

I can see why he thought it might be pipe - hollow, etc. 

But I never stopped laughing.  

Monday, May 20, 2019

Throwing an Eye

I've spent about 10 years living in France and 20 years speaking the language and there are still things I just can't quite say. The first is 'nice to meet you'. It's a cultural thing. Yesterday at a friends apéro I met two new people, they were nice, and when it came time to leave I wanted to say something a little more than goodbye but a little less than enchanted to have met you. I fumbled in French as usual, then settled, as i have begun to, on saying it in English. The sentiment simply doesn't translate in French. They don't say offhand things like that - if it's truly nice to have met you, you have to say, ravished or enchanted to have met you. Otherwise you simply say goodbye. I physically can't do that. 

The other day I almost jumped for joy in a clothes shop when I overheard a man respond to the shop girl's 'Can I help you?' I have never figured out how to say 'I'm just looking'. I will stammer something too-long out, like 'Thank you, I, I'm... looking... I don't, thanks... only...' and recently I got so tired of trying to find the nuance I would simply, rudely state, 'No thank-you.' Then there was the man. He said, 'Non merci, je jette un coup d'oeil.' Of course! 'I'm just having a glance/ a look / a browse.' Or literally, 'I'm throwing a little bit of an eye.' I almost leapt for joy.