Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This One Time in Paris

Last week, the hilarious Sarah from est. 1975 generously let me run my mouth about McDonald's on her blog. Who knew I had so much to say about it? I did. That's why I wrote the post. Duh.

Anyhoo, Sarah is here to return the favor and run her mouth share an anecdote about this one guy who came to France this one time. It's good.

And... go!

Sarah Says

So I thought I'd start this guest post off with a multiple-choice quiz. (Don't stress. It's only one question.)

1. Who is the best choice to write a guest post for a blog about living in Paris? Choose one of the following options:

A) Someone who actually lives in Paris
B) Someone who has traveled extensively in Paris
C) Someone who has visited Paris even just the one time
D) Someone who has at least read a book about Paris
E) Any/all of the above people will do, just NOT someone who has *never* been to Paris and knows absolutely *nothing* about it

I don't think I need to tell you the answer is E. Pretty obvious, right?

And yet Vicki totally failed this test when she agreed to let me guest post.

That's right. Not only have I *never* been to Paris, I have never been to France at all. Nope. Not even once. I've been to other places in Europe, sure – I even married a European. Just not a European from France (or "France-man," as some call them).

I haven't even *read* anything about Paris, except for the captions on some pictures my husband has in his office:

Statue of Liberty, France
It's hard to see, but it says: "Statue of Liberty in Paris 1886" at the bottom of this picture. Because apparently the people of France were so jealous of ours they had to build their own. *snort* Copycats.

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Apparently there's some sort of famous tower in Paris. Did you guys know about this? I've got to say though – it's not exactly an original design. I see a lot of knick-knacks on clearance at Home Goods that look AWFULLY SIMILAR.
I guess what I'm saying is this: F MINUS, Vicki. F MINUS.

Still, despite my appalling lack of Parisian knowledge and experience, I do have a short tale to tell about La Ville-Lumière. (Yes, I did just look that up on Wikipedia. Wanna fight about it?) Because I actually do know someone who traveled there once.

It was about fifteen years ago, and my friend Tony was a young gay man full of hopes and dreams and four years of high school French and a yearning desire to visit the grave of Édith Piaf. Fortunately for him, one of his friends was suddenly relocated to Vichy, and a once-impossible dream of visiting France turned into a Much More Affordable Opportunity.

Almost as soon as his travel plans were set in motion, I was summoned to Tony's apartment and assigned the tedious job of helping him fill his suitcase with what I'll generously call "le Costume d' Eurotrash." I also helped him to catch up on his French, which was rusty from not speaking a word of it since high school. Though in retrospect this may have been kind of a stupid idea since my own French is limited to the following expressions:

• Bonjour
• Bon voyage
• Merci beaucoup
• Hors d'oeuvres
• Au Bon Pain

Oh well. I did the best I could.

Anyway. The time came for Tony to wing his way to France, whereupon he spent a few marvelous weeks in Vichy with a group of warm, welcoming young people who taught him as much about the culture and language as he wanted to know. Within a very short period of time, and with a lot of patience and encouragement from his new French amis, he became more competent with the French language than he had ever been. By the end of his stay in Vichy, Tony was essentially speaking French full-time, even with the American friend who had invited him there in the first place.

He might not have been fluent, exactly, but he had CONFIDENCE.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Tony's stay in the cordial French countryside did as well. He packed his bags and caught a train to Paris, where he was scheduled to fly back to the United States the next day.

Upon his arrival in Paris, Tony found that he had some time to kill, so he found a local place in which to sit quietly, drink a few glasses of wine, and enjoy his last delicious meal in France. With his new-found cultural confidence, he lifted his hand to attract a nearby waiter's attention.

"Excusez-moi," he politely said to the waiter. "Un vin blanc, s'il vous plaît."

To which the waiter looked down his nose at Tony and replied in cold, perfect English: "Don't even try."

And that's everything I know about Paris.

Vicki Says

Having lived here for 9 years, I can attest to the fact that stuff like that really does happen. What's annoying, though, is that while they may say "Don't even try," they DO want you to try.

If you would have started out saying "White wine, please," they would have replied snootily "But we are in France, you must to speak French." Well, your sentence has an extra "to" in it so you must "to learn" English if you want to chastise me.

You can't win. But it's still worth visiting to see for yourself. With enough wine, everyone seems nice. Or at least nice enough.

About Sarah (Est. 1975)

est. 1975
A corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah (est. 1975) somehow manages to find occasional work as a freelance copy writer and copy editor. In addition to her regular contributions to BLUNTmoms, Sarah also writes comedy blog est. 1975, which won Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks 2014 Badass Blog Awards.

Vicki Lesage, Author