We tell people that we keep coming back to France because we at least speak French so it’s easy to get around. That’s not the whole truth of it though.
The Husband and I have both had French lessons. I actually took french for four years in high school and I swear I didn’t learn a thing. We both have taken classes when we’ve come to Paris for an extended time as well.
Every morning we both open our Duo Lingo app and go through some basic French lessons. I can assure you that if ever we have to ask for a table for four people and a horse or if we ever have to point out the obvious, “YOU are a horse”, this will come easily for us. Asking for fresh fruit instead of fries? Absolutely not.
We went to the flea market our first week here and after exhaustive shopping we had lunch. We ordered everything in French and felt pretty good about it until the waiter brought us ice. Ice from a French waiter is the equivalent of the buzzer and an X in a video game. We just died. Or as I like to say, we got bitch slapped. Only the Americans order ice. We apparently use a lot of salt and pepper and ketchup too which, if delivered, is more than a bitch slap—it’s a declaration of culture war.
We went back to the flea market with Judy and Marsha and had lunch at a different restaurant. Things were going pretty well. The Husband and I were ordering for everyone and the waiter even got my little joke about him looking like Richard Gere. Where it went wrong was that I tried to substitute Judy’s French fries “frites” with fresh fruit “fruits frais”. The guy must’ve thought I said, “…and instead of normal French fries, she’ll have fresh French fries…” because when he delivered Judy’s plate (very much the same plate as The Husband’s and Marsha’s) he did it with some aplomb as if announcing “Madame, may I present to you the freshest French fries in all of France”. Bitch slap. (Or in keeping with the alliteration, Femme Frappé). I wanted to then tell him he looked like Richard Gere circa 2017 not Richard Gere circa Officer and a Gentleman but I couldn’t work out the French so I just ordered some ice.
So far this trip we have discussed how heavy our bedrooms are (our legs were tired); we asked a waiter if we could build a small garden on the table (we wanted to share a plate); and we ordered our hamburger to be served at a bridge (cooked medium rare).
French is hard. We ran into a girl who spoke six languages. We started to speak to her in French and she realized it wasn’t our first language (Wow! She had an ear didn’t she?) so she asked to converse in English. She said French is ridiculous. And it really is.
All this to say, if you come to France with us we promise: you’ll have all the ice you need.
**Please tell me your own funny language stories in the comments**