Je Me Fais Confiance!


Today I realized that suddenly I have confidence in my French life.  I don’t hide when the phone rings, I don’t pretend not to hear the doorbell (unless I’m missing some crucial garment required for door-answering), I’ll ask the butcher how to prepare an obscure cut of meat without feeling like I really ought to know the recipe already, and I no longer avoid calling even the most severe of bureaucracies to explain some complicated story. 

After only a few months, now I just do it.  I don’t even rehearse my speeches in advance, although possibly I should.  Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do it perfectly.  Yep, sometimes I have to ask people to slow down or repeat themselves.  But I don’t feel apologetic anymore, because really, anyone can understand me, if only they try a bit.  And they should!  I’ve come to believe that I try, and so should they.  And you know what?  Nobody bites my head off.

Ok, some French friends have criticized my shoes (not French, look like slippers, too comfortable to wear outside the house).  My weight is decidedly un-French, as are my hair and my clothes.  My French spelling needs a Babelfish-assist far too often, and the subjunctive tense  still eludes me at times.  But you know what?  Je suis comme je suis.  I yam what I yam, and it feels fine almost all of the time.

A French doctor told me that in order to be a French size and shape I should tighten my belt and be hungry all the time, except for one good meal on Sunday.  Uh, merci, mais non.  A French person wouldn’t eat a starch twice a day.  If they have potatoes for lunch, they won’t have rice at dinner.  Bread’s not a starch, of course.  Bread is life.  Two French people can get in a huge argument at the dinner table and emerge friends.  The hostess is not supposed to worry about it.  A French pharmacist can say the prescribing doctor doesn’t understand how the drug works.  A French grocery store can have no fresh cream and not apologize.  A French garage can order a part for your speedometer and not worry when it hasn’t arrived months later.  And me, I can be in France without apologizing for not being French.  I’m American, and that’s ok.  It’s a revelation.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

8 Comments on “Je Me Fais Confiance!”

  1. Lori in PA Says:

    Wonderful revelation!

  2. Wow, congratulations! It took me about 2 years to get to this point (;->)….

  3. Debra Lane Says:

    Sounds great Abra!

  4. Jim Says:

    Well, Abra, you’re miles and miles ahead of wherever I’ll end up. I am green with envy that you can have any kind of conversation at all with the good people of France. I mean, and understand what they’re saying. Not that it got in the way…they kindly took pity on me and were gracious all the same.

    PS: Tassel is on an expensive medication for degenerative joint disease (arthritis), but other than that, all is fine at our end of the line.

  5. Della Says:

    I love it! Just reading this made me smile and start thinking about what I’m not apologtic for………….thanks!

  6. Jamie Lee Says:

    You go girl!

  7. Marie Laborde Says:

    ça c’est une bonne nouvelle! Et je confirme : tous les gens que je connais qui vous connaissent sont unanimes sur votre excellent niveau de langue. Vous exagérez pour les chaussures, les vêtements, votre taille et votre coiffure : je ne suis pas d’accord sur le supposé regard des Français sur vous, non, non, tout le monde n’a pas le sens esthétique étriqué que vous nous attribuez.
    Enfin je suis ravie de retrouver vos French letters et vos photos magnifiques au retour de mon voyage en Inde, et je vous souhaite une bonne et heureuse année ainsi qu’à Shel, en attendant de vous revoir très très bientôt… demain, à vrai dire.

  8. Barbara Jaacquin Says:

    Let’s not forget that Mark Twain, after one of his frequent trips to France, concluded that “The French don’t even understand their own language”! Think about that one for awhile. I’m sure you do better than he did.

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