Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wasted Youth

This time of year always brings with it a little regret. Not much...I'm not all that big on regret, really. But, a little bit creeps in.

Karma is telling me clearly and in no uncertain terms that I should have taken French in high school. I'd like to speak French. It is a beautiful language, mellifluous and sort of classy. It'd be nice to be able to go into any of the finer restaurants and order myself a Mountain Dew like a lady.

But, for reasons that made sense at the time, I opted to take Spanish. This has not served me well at all. Sure, the class was kind of fun. We started a Spanish Club and I got to go to a car wash with the cute senior who sat in front of me. But, I don't find myself suddenly having to provide translation services on any given day.

Of course, I can't speak Spanish either. All I can do is ask politely for lemonade and directions to the restroom. Which is, I suppose, useful in its own way. I mean, if you are requesting the former then you are probably going to be needing the latter at some point. But, I don't think that my limited language skills would make for a good vacation in sunny Spain. Eventually, all that acidity from the lemons would have its way with me and I'd be all grumpy when I had to ask for the facilities.

But, that would come in handy this time of year. My little corner of the country is beach laden and a favorite destination for French speaking Canadians. These are among the most polite of peoples and I do love to listen to them conversing. But, my inability to communicate effectively with my friends from the north has made summer grocery shopping a bit trying. Hence, my yearly rending of metaphorical garments over my having wasted two years of public education in a Spanish class. Now I can't speak French. And I can't ask the nice people to kindly move aside before I expire from the need to get the last two black and white cookies that I so love and must, must, must have.

I grew up in a very Franco-American part of the country so I've certainly had my exposure to the language. But, I didn't pick up much. I can swear a little bit thanks to the grandmothers that lived or visited with my childhood friends. However, I am not 100% sure of my pronunciation on these little gems and swearing in a foreign language is one of things you really want to have a solid handle on before you let loose. And none of the situations really call for swearing to any degree. I mean, I got the cookies. No need to get hostile, right? The one thing I can say with the finest of French accents is, "Nomme de Plume!" I enjoy saying this very much and know that I sound completely authentic when I let 'er rip. And, while I will admit that I achieve the desired effect of parting the crowds that surround my beloved baked goods, I don't really think they are moving out of respect for my language mastery.

And, if the truth be known, I doubt that I'd really have the nerve to assert myself in the presence of the tourists. They are, to a person, far better dressed than I and have an air of sophistication to which I can only aspire. would be nice if I could speak French.

I decided to hold my mono-linguistic head high, though, and work on a few of the summer projects that I have promised to add to the "done" column in September. There is comfort in knowing that you will soon be checking things off the list. As I have two workshops this week that I suspect will be less than stimulating, I decided to push through the heel flap and gussets of the Socks Of Summer so that there would be naught but mindless stockinette to keep my hands occupied while I pretend great interest in the new reading and math programs.

This was yesterday...I'm much further along now!
And, ever the comforting presence when I am regretting my choice to not take French, The Big, Fluffy Kitty assisted me with a little spindling.

My wool basket is well guarded. Even from me...
Nothing finished, though. I'm thinking I might have something by Friday but hesitate to commit given the time I'm going to need to spend in classrooms this week. Those types of things often degenerate into work groups and "hands-on" demonstrations. You never know when you are going to get hit with a presenter who enjoys involving the class whether they like it or not. So, for the moment, nothing is crossed off the Summer Index Cards Of Organization, everything remains a work in progress and I still can't speak French.
Cest la vie...


trek said...

School's out! You should not be in a classroom.

Ronni said...

I dunno why but I suddenly feel the need to rent a Jean Reno film. I'm thinking "Just Visiting" at the moment.

Your sock is very very pretty. As is your wool basket and spindle.

Beth said...

My French is a bit rusty, so unfortunately I can't help much. You could always try "Excusez moi" or "Pardonez moi." Gee, I hope that's right... :) What I remember the most is "Fermez la grand bouche" which means "Shut the (your) big mouth." I guess that would be a bit rude, though. Your Spanish would come in handy down here.

Your sock looks great!

Mel said...

I get called upon pretty regularly for my Spanish translating services, but my circumstances are admittedly a tad different. I got to use it a lot more when I lived in North Carolina, though.

French I can muddle through with raisonablement bien and I haven't taken any proper coursework on the language, just taught myself a smidgen here and there. If you really, really want to try to learn it, I could probably point you in the direction of some resources, though most stuff out there consists of learning how to ask for lemonade and directions to the bathroom.

And for future reference, you could say to the person blocking your way, "Bouge tes fesses." It's not likely to win you any friends, though.

catsmum said...

Although my late DH was born in France, his only French was "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" :]
Not something that I'd recommend you try in the supermarket [ but then again ...!!! ]

Lorraine said...

Deepest regret of my life - not being able to read and translate the snippets of French in Jane Eyre. LOVE that book but there are still unsolved mysteries in it.

Anonymous said...

What? You have workshops? That's just not right; you are supposed to be on summer vacation!

Love the sockie.

Anonymous said...

The sock looks great! Love the sock. Can't help you with the French though.

Louiz said...

My french not being great, I would suggest "ex cusey moi" which should be phonetic and means... excuse me. You could get fancy and say ... erg my french is desertnig me and I cannot remember what cookies are in french. Babel fish suggests: "vous ĂȘtes entre moi et noirs et blancs les biscuits" for "you are between me and the black and white cookies... If they are anything like the tourists we get here, you could just say very loudly "excuse me" and glare!

Bobbi said...

who needs french when you can knit socks! Far more useful I must say !

Vicki in So. Cal. said...

I took both German and French in high school rather than the much more useful Spanish (I am in So. Cal., after all). Actually, I think that's why I took German and French. As a teen, something exotic that I would never use seemed so much more fun than something that everyone (parents and teachers) told me was more sensible. And I apparently haven't gotten any smarter as I've aged. I decided that on the basis of 'use it or lose it' that I needed to learn something new to keep my aging brain active. Did I choose to now learn Spanish, which I could use every day here? No, of course not. I'm learning Irish Gaelic! Not at all useful but soooo much more fun! By the way, I can ask for lemonade and the bathroom too. Very useful phrases!

B. said...

Hi Sheepie,

I too could regale you with some of my rusty French. But, alas, many have already shared my choice phrases!

I really want to learn to speak Italian...reow!

Cursing Mama said...

And people gave me a hard time when I let my son sign up for French instead of Spanish...

I knew there would be a good reason to learn that language!

Debby said...

Chaussettes = socks. (show-sets)

And a very important word for you:

Le Mouton = The Sheep. But perhaps La Moutonne would be more correct?

I know enough French to mangle it and be dangerous. :) I wish I lived somewhere I could practice can come here and use your Spanish!

Hope you can cross off another something on the index cards soon!

lobstah said...

I took French for years and years (10 yrs!) but I have lost a lot of it :( I actually get a ton of French radio stations up here in the north and I'll try to listen, but Canadian french is actually quite different that Parisian french which makes it harder!
Plus, the music is horrid.

Carrie K said...

I was at a concert the other night where the opening act crooned Edith Piaf songs. So beautiful even if my High School French only allowed me to recognize the words "Paris" and "love".