Monday, February 22, 2010

The Text

Monday flashback...again. The encouraging thing is I can now read (most) texts in French and can actually write them. However, I am still completely unable to comprehend my electric bill! 

The problem with having no particular plans on any particular day is that your mind seems to lose its ability to keep a schedule. The brain no longer needs to spend its time making sure you remember to be where you're supposed to be at any given time and finally decides it's no longer in its job description.

Thus, Saturday night I made plans for two different events at the same time. My friend Cedric wanted to take me out for an oyster dinner before he moved to Argentina the next morning. He seemed very concerned that he would never get to slurp down another one of these creatures again and was in the mood to over-consume.  And my friends Linda, Pierre and Anne had asked me over for dinner and some dancing. Since Cedric was leaving, I decided to have dinner with him and then after dinner I would join the others at Anne’s apartment.  I apologized to my friends, told them of my altered plans and all was right with the world. At this point, people were very willing to forgive all my transgressions because of my language handicap and I was willing to let them. Because in truth, the language issue was a predicament when trying to explain, in French, that the mix-up was caused by a progressive case of brain atrophy. In fact, if I even tried to explain that, they would probably send me to a Pharmacie, which beat lingerie stores in popularity here.

However, the restaurant that Cedric had chosen was closed so we decided to drive to the seafood shop outside of town, pick up what we wanted, and eat at my house. When we returned, there were absolutely no parking places. Not unusual in a town that was built long before the U.S. was even discovered by Europeans. We had to park way past the Rotunde (across town) and hoof it to my house. I will never complain about mall parking at Christmas time again!!

Cedric started in shucking the oysters and cutting the tops off the sea urchins (yes, raw sea urchins). I set out for bread and wine. When I returned he was still struggling with the shellfish and he informed me that I had bought the wrong wine. I’ve already learned I cannot hold my own in a wine argument with a frenchman! So when Cedric finally triumphed in the mollusk massacre, he set out for the other side of town to find "the correct wine".

When all was said and done and much later than I had expected, we sat down for a feast of various and sundry shellfish that I've never seen or heard of before, drank the correct wine, and conversed, language dictionary in hand. I learned that you only eat the orange bits a sea urchin  (I did not want to know what the brown stuff was!)  but with a violet you scoop out the yellow part (which looks like exactly the part that you should not eat!) with your finger and only eat that. None of it, in my opinion, is very edible and it all pretty much tastes the same but hey…I don’t want to miss anything. Still, I want to know who the first human was that decided this was the sort of thing one should eat at all!

We finally finished at 2 am and Cedric left. It was obviously too late to call my friends so I sent Pierre (he is the only member of the group that speaks a little English) a text that said "my friend just left. Damn! I wanted to dance!"

During the night my phone began to beep repeatedly with text messages from the phone company that said “En raison d’un problème technique, votre Texto n’a pu etre envoyé. Nous vous remercion de réemercions de réessayer plus tard”. Yikes!  Only three of these words are remotely familiar and all I can surmise from this message is there is a problem with my texting technique.  I wasn’t aware that in France one needed a technique for this simple task but I decided I would check into that….in the morning.

Morning arrived and my phone began it’s incessant beeping again. Texts began arriving, one after the other. . I was thinking, wow, I have so many friends. I’ve really got it going on! But the messages confused me…once again. I got one from my landlord that basically said, in an odd mixture of French and English, “I don’t understand”. One came from a gentleman from whom I was trying to get a job. It said "C'est qui?" (who is this?). My friend Simon sent a message of concern.  An  American girlfriend replied with "Hey there! When I received your text last night at 2:30 AM- that you were in the mood to dance with your friend- I read between the lines. As for me, I was having a French lesson :). Enjoy!!  I'm sure you'll be dancing soon."

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I had sent the text to everybody on my contact list, both home and cell phone numbers. Which of course, I didn’t understand. Because I didn’t understand ANYTHING!

So my landlord thinks I've lost my mind but isn't sure because she doesn't speak English, my new (potential) boss is wondering why Americans feel the need to offer up every detail of their lives before they even know someone, Simon thought his friend Cedric was not being a gentleman on our "date" and my girlfriend thinks I wanted to hop in the sack with "my friend"and was left in the lurch.. but she wanted to send words of encouragement!  The kicker is, Pierre, as I found out later, never even got the message because I had his number wrong. Forget about the underwear quest.... my new job is to start some delicious rumors about myself!

This article was originally printed in the Wittenberg Enterprise, March 2009


  1. Ah thanks for the smile! I got a good giggle out of this, so now I am off to work with a smile on my face! So thats what we should call it.... "dancing @ 2 am!" Great!

  2. That was so funny, Delana.

    Even though we've lived out here about seven years now it is only fairly recently that I've eaten oysters (and still not tried frogs legs or snails yet). As for Cedric and his wine - what is it with French men and their specific wine for each item on the course. We've sometimes had about six different glasses throughout a meal - all very lovely admittedly but it does make a girl's head swim.

    Hope you get the texto problem sorted out. I've not had anything like that happen (I'm with Virgin fr)

  3. Hi Ginger, I wish I were "dancing" now!

    FF: Maybe making a girl's head swim is exactly the idea....I'm just sayin'! But I'll never complain. It seems a Frenchman is born with some innate ability to judge wine. I'm from beer country.... it's always in my best interest to concede on that particular point!

  4. Merci Delana !! J'ai bien ri en lisant ton blog du jour et j'ai vu Cory bien se "marrer" aussi devant son écran… tu as vraiment l'art de la narration, c'est vif,alerte… et c'est vraiment très interessant et amusant de lire comment un texto très "innocent" peut prendre des significations totalement différentes en fonction des relations que tu as avec celui qui les reçoit!
    Marie-Martine ta only french lectrice???


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