Thursday, September 28, 2006
The French usually take their vacation in August. My mind instinctively took a vacation, too - happily following my body to Glasgow, Chicago, Jakarta and Ubud - leaving behind French grammar and homework.
But while the French returned from their holidays in September my mind turned to another French pastime and decided to follow suit: it went on strike. It decided to continue to indulge in recreation. There would be no conjugating, no adding to the vocabulary, no reviewing. There wouldn't even be the pretense of good intentions: no taking the grammar workbook only to stuff it into the literature pocket of a Recaro airplane seat behind the safety-cards; no lugging the Apple laptop poolside only to ignore the Microsoft Word document containing pages of vocabulary; not even toting the beloved Moleskine around village, town, city, or the island to jot down musings à la c'est intéressant.
I went through my days barely noticing the increasing absence of French in my daily life. I was content with slowly acclimatizing myself to the plateau that I didn't realize I had reached: I did only half of my overdue homework, I watched a French film with German subtitles while leafing through a magazine and managed to answer only one question du jour each week, if at all. Still, I felt confident about my French- thinking it would be the bicycle I would ride effortlessly once I chose to finally get back on.
I mean, I would at least be able call up the Paris Marriott Hotel and somehow come up with a sentence that would have me speaking to my friend in room 132, right? Crashing realization as I began with "je" followed by silence and then finally "voudrais" as I soldiered on battling more awkward silence until I finally fell apart - "..uhm aaah diiiiiire" - stretching out my words hoping to stall for some time.
The receptionist had had enough and brusquely demanded, in perfect English, that I stop butchering a language that sounded otherwise so lovely: "please! speak English". I acquiesced and mumbled my request.
Time to get back on le vélo...
La photo: à Ubud (Bali), en Indonésie. Septembre 2006.
Le photographe: monsieur_foufou