I used to keep two journals. One for profound thought and one for silly little observances of everyday life. Since I haven't touched either of them for a year to the day, I've composed a short list of 2 fairly significant things I've done since October 11, 2005:1) Gotten married
Planning a wedding in France entailed tons of paperwork (among which was a legal document that doesn't exist in the US saying I am officially single and eligible to marry, as well as an officially translated birth certificate that set me back $120). It also introduced us to some colorful characters, such as the French priest who married us. Not long after meeting him, he told us, "In France, a priest without a good wine cellar is not a good priest." And thus, we were rarely without a good bottle of Sancerre or Saint-Emilion during meetings for our "preparations du mariage." And it wasn't always just for us. One day, we arrived as another engaged couple were ending their meeting with "Père Apéro", who told them to stay through our meeting and have a drink after. Then he gave us a lovely tour through the cathedral where we would have our ceremony. Along the way, we picked up some German tourists who were invited to come back and have yet another drink with us. We left every meeting with him happy to be getting married, happy to be crossing the street, even happy about being happy. Cut to the wedding. Were we married in a beautiful 17th century cathedral. There were 100 guests, but as it was a substantially enormous
cathedral, the photos make it seem that there were only 5 of us there. See evidence:
I suppose we could raise the headcount if we counted the tourists who were peeking in from outside the nave.
The reception after, at a chateau somewhere in the woods, lasted until 6 am. Reason enough to get married in France, as I get looks of confusion and pity when I explain to people here that weddings in the U.S. usually wrap up around 1 or 2 in the morning. I was reminded that my friends are amazing
when I saw how many of them made it out to France for the wedding. While most of the guests on my side spoke no French and only a few on the French side spoke English, we were touched by how much fun people can have together without the ability to really talk to eachother. Was it the mood or the champagne? You be the judge.2) Learned how to say "balls" in French
The French you learn in school is really only gets you so far. Sure, "The bus is late" and "The dog is under the table" are phrases practical enough. But what do you say when you're in a crowded metro car and some six foot sleazeball is trying to rub up on you? (actually, screaming at the groper in any language would work, but that's beside the point
) In the last few months, I've had to expand my vocab due to a variety of situations and can now talk my way through stopping a hairdresser when I see she is in the middle of turning my hair into a cyclone of dreadlocks and gel, consoling crying French football fans after a painful defeat, and pushy women trying to cut in line at post offices and department stores.
I have made progress, though I freely admit the slip ups along the way. Two in particular stand out:
-Speaking to the grandfather of a nice family in my neighborhood:
What I wanted to say: "J'adore vos petits-fils
." (I adore your grandkids)
What I said: "J'adore vos petites fesses
." (I adore your little butt)
-Speaking to an 11 year-old I babysat, upon sending him to school:
What I wanted to say: "Tu as oublié ta compote!"
(You forgot your applesauce!)
What I said, or rather yelled in front of the other kids and moms: "Tu as oublié ta capote!
" (Your forgot your condoms!)
In the end, flubbing up is how you learn, listening closely is how you accumulate new words, and whether you've anatomically got cajones or not, it's practical to be able to call something (or someone) a casse-couilles