19 March 2010

Rule Number One: Keep Mouth CLOSED

I think I'm going to swear off speaking.  Never again in public . . . never again to strangers . . . never again in French . . . or at least never again in French to strangers in public.  With all of the stupid ways I've put my foot in my mouth over the past six months, one would think I'd learn.  But oh no!  Je suis très têtue!


So today is the birthday of a good friend here at Les Cedres and I wanted to get her a little gift.  She introduced me to this fabulous store called Zôdio.  It's a cross between Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store and Michael's.  Gift cards (Cartes Cadeaux) are still a pretty new concept here in France, but thankfully Zôdio offers them.  My friend S-P and I wandered over that way at our lunch break.  I bought some card-making paper so I could make her a birthday card.  We had been speaking en Français the whole time until we were in line.  For some reason we switched to English, but back to French as we approached the till.


The woman asked Faites-vous bien des progrès avec le français? (You're making progress with French?) My friend answered affirmatively, with a clause that some days are better than others (today being another one of those when I never should have left my room).  When it was my turn, the woman greeted me and began counting the papers I chosen.  I then said "Et je voudrais une carte cadeau, s'il vous plaît, quand vous êtes fini." And that's when I caught myself . . . I quickly recanted my statement and tried to save any shred of dignity.  "Uh, DÉSOLÉE . . . uh, quand vous AVEZ fini!!"

It's really a very minor mistake . . . "And I would like a gift card please, when you ARE finished" as opposed to "when you HAVE finished." And to us Anglophones, there is no significant difference.  But to the Francophone . . . oh . . . shame!  QUEL DOMMAGE!   What I really told this very kind stranger trying to help me was "And I would like a gift card please, when you are DEAD!!!"  

My friend picked up my error and softly and gently laughed at me . . . and I'm sure if my own gasp hadn't been quite so loud I would have heard those of the four women behind me in line!  This will be my last post for a long time . . . I'm going to dig a deep hole and hide there for a few millennia.

3 comments:

Maridith said...

i'm the one who wishes they would have been there... i mean, at least you didn't tell her you had a euro "aux etats-unis." good greif.

Pete said...

Oh Deb, You're in good company !!

Every time I go to the Boulangerie I do something stupid. The guy just laughs as he sees me walk in the door now, no need to wait to see what's going to happen. The memories are enough for him.

The latest was when I had made no linguistic blunders and successfully purchased 'un pain'. You know the bread, bigger, broader, harder and somewhat more serious than a baguette. And this time the queueing crowd had nothing to snigger at.

I promptly turned in a speedy, self-satisifed manner ready to bow to my new fans and exit stage right when a small boy got in the way of my bread.
Well, it was his head to be more specific !! The dull thud echoed from the walls and the horrified faces of onlookers.

So now not only am I a linguistic moron, I am the local child abusing clutz !! Hooray for me !! We make good friends!

Pete said...

Oh Deb, You're in good company !!

Every time I go to the Boulangerie I do something stupid. The guy just laughs as he sees me walk in the door now, no need to wait to see what's going to happen. The memories are enough for him.

The latest was when I had made no linguistic blunders and successfully purchased 'un pain'. You know the bread, bigger, broader, harder and somewhat more serious than a baguette. And this time the queueing crowd had nothing to snigger at.

I promptly turned in a speedy, self-satisifed manner ready to bow to my new fans and exit stage right when a small boy got in the way of my bread.
Well, it was his head to be more specific !! The dull thud echoed from the walls and the horrified faces of onlookers.

So now not only am I a linguistic moron, I am the local child abusing clutz !! Hooray for me !! We make good friends!