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breaking bad.



On top of having to learn French here in Paris, many of us native English speakers have had to familiarize ourselves with the French's interpretation of the English language. One word that I find is often misused is the coordinating junction "so." As we know, this word generally goes in front of an adjective (e.g, "so pretty", "so minty"). Here the word so seems to have found itself a home anywhere and everywhere, mostly in advertising. I've seen "So Music", "So Savings" and my personal favorite, "So Shopping", which I like to say in my Cher from Clueless voice.

I'm not a grammar Nazi -- not by any measure -- and I know that we have been guilty to mold French words for our convenience as well. I'll never forget Aurélien's bewilderment at an American diner when I explained to him that à la mode to us means a plop of ice cream added to a dessert, not Tom Ford's latest défilé.

Last weekend, we were invited to a housewarming party. Our two friends are getting domestic; taking the "next step" by moving in together into spacious, high ceiling, hardwood floor loft in the 18th. The invitation boasted twerking (okay, I requested that on the Facebook invite), candy-infused shots, and a blind test. Blind test? Quel mystère! Days leading up to the party, I had envisioned myself wearing a bandana over my eyes and tasting eclairs to guess which boulangerie it came from. 

Yes. I have seen this done at gatherings here before.

Arriving at the party where we didn't know anyone, the hostesses thoughtfully put up a poster announcing the teams for the blind test. This was meant to encourage us guests, total strangers, to introduce ourselves and chat, sober. At a party in Paris, this has been proven to be strenuous.

Once the main space was what appeared to be at capacity, the blind test was announced and all of the teams packed in tight around the hostesses who were positioned behind a laptop. Where was the food? I asked myself. Or the drinks? And more importantly, where were the blindfolds for the test? At the command of our hostesses' fingers, music started to play for mere seconds arousing the teams to bark out the song titles and its musicians.  

Ah ha. Blind test means name that tune here. 

Okay. Got it. So music.

Assuming that all of the songs would be French tunes or unknown American pop songs that didn't make it in the States but somehow were a hit in Europe, I positioned myself off to the side to cheer everyone on. It wasn't until I heard the wailing opening guitar to Shania's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" that I realized hey, I could play too! Rejoining my team, we enjoyed an exuberant victory in the first round, prompting cheers from my teammates who were benefiting from their American teammate who has a penchant for cheesy pop music. Everyone was playfully competitive, screaming, jumping, and singing. The energy was contagious, and was the most animation I had even seen at a French party.

With full intentions of forfeiting the game after the bonus round of the American portion of the game, the young girl, couldn't have been older than 20 kicked my ankle. Twice. And it hurt! At first, I ignored it because it was obviously a mistake, right? It wasn't until she dug her finger into the small of my back that I was forced to believe that I was being provoked. In hopes to clear this up, I turned and looked at her, and with a smirk she looked the other way to whisper in her friend's ear. Oh, come on. Were they serious? Were they really that annoyed that I called the song "Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm" by the Crash Test Dummies. In hindsight, I guess they were just jealous. That song does rule. 

After experiencing variations of her physical contact that included her pinching me, flicking my left shoulder (what was she 10?) and bumping my hip with hers so aggressively that my plastic cup filled with water almost got heaved onto the laptop, I had no choice but to address it. Willing to accept that perhaps I had at one point bumped into them unintentionally and this was their childish retaliation, I apologized in advance and reminded them that we were all just having fun.

In French, she told me that I can explain in English and to not strain myself desperately trying to speak French, and then patted me on the head. Oy vey.

"Oh okay, so you understand English?" I asked.

Giving me a look that said, obviously and turning to her friends to giggle.

"Great," I smiled and calmly handed my cup to Aurel, "How about then, you keep your fucking hands off of me because you don't want to know what will happen if you do it again."

And then I stared her down. There was definitely some neck swiveling happening and I may have even raised an eyebrow. 

I know, I know. Even I'm laughing now. Even though I wear bamboo earrings, I really am not tough but at that point, I had been pushed way too far. People don't have the right to just touch other people. I'm sorry. And just between you and me, I didn't know what would happen either if she had done it again. I hadn't exactly planned it out. Because you know as a rule of thumb, I avoid threats and name that tune fist fights at parties. Luckily she didn't further engage and to move on, I removed myself to go eat chips. I was getting hungry anyway.

Thirty minutes later, the sore loser approached me as I was talking to a guy with long, wavy red hair rocking leopard print leggings and a bandana whose name was Axel (like for real), and before I could dismiss her by telling her it was done, there was no problem, she apologized, with sincerity. What I also noticed was that she was now speaking to me in formal vous and asked me to please accept her apology.

What the.

We never did get to the bottom of why she had a sudden change of heart. Perhaps she just came to her senses that hitting people at parties is unacceptable anywhere? Or that she realized that I was much older than her and that, of course I would know Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Who knows? But Aurélien on the other hand, entertaining his American villain fantasy, believes that I was just that bad ass and no one messes with his wife. N'importe quoi.

I wish you all a lovely weekend!
And please, use this as a cautionary tale,
beware of name that tune. 
It's not what it used to be.

22 comments:

  1. Drama, drama, drama. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself en anglais! I hope it's equally satisfying to know you're capable of the same in French :) happy weekend!

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    1. I know, major dramz. I don't know if I could say it equally as tough in French, to be honest. I think it would come off sounding really dumb or worse, cute.

      I'm glad she apologized and I'll think twice the next time I want to win a game of American name that tune. Apparently it's taken very seriously around here!

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  2. Wow! I often have fantasies of telling mean people off in English (here in Spain). This sounds like something I would love to do: "How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up?" :)

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    1. Hi Kaley!

      It feels good to just get it out in your own language! I know when I'm pissed I don't articulate myself properly in French, so her giving me the green light to speak in English was a gift...even if she thought she was being bitchy.

      It was crazy but I appreciated her apology and ended up enjoying m night!

      Hope all is well with you!

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  3. the head patting would have been it for me....that sounds like the craziest french house party ever....and almost a fist fight...quelle drama..so drama.

    have a relaxing weekend.....

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    1. Seriously. SO drama. he he he!

      Yeah, the party was pretty crazy; the Axl Rose look-a-like whose name was really Axel, tequila shots, twerking, and as we were leaving one of the girls decided to dance topless. Oh and I fell down the spiral stairs when the hallway light turned off as we were leaving. I have a big purple bruise on my bum! Cray cray.

      This weekend that just passed was way more relaxing out in the country! I hope you had a nice weekend too!

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  4. Who does stuff like that after the age of 12? You are too nice. I would have thrown my water into her effing face. PS: Go American Girl for knowing all the songs! x

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    1. Omg, I know. Super immature. I had to be nice because unlike her, I realized that she was obviously invited for a reason and out of respect of our hostesses I gave her the benefit of the doubt. But yeah, she pretty much sucked and should have been checked the first time she hit me.

      He he he. I had fun singing "That Boy is Mine". Brandy and Monica sure know how to get the party started. : )

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  5. I've had this before, where a French person automatically expects me to speak English to them. Usually I have to tell them, that no, I was not going to be their personal teacher. I can't believe she pat you on the head, like you're her dog or something.

    I don't understand this girl. How could she believe that people would understand what you were calling out if you didn't try to pronounce it the French way? If you pronounced it the English way, everyone would have probably ignored (unintentionally) your answer. As these games are really fast, their ears would be pricked up to hear the French pronounciation only and if you got out your English pronounciation answer just before somebody else shouted out the same right answer with a French pronounciation, I guarantee that your answer would probably have just "disappeared into thin air".

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    1. Hahaha the pat on the head was super annoying! It was like taking it to the next level for no reason.

      I wasn't offended that she asked me to speak English. I knew she was just doing it to be bitchy thinking it was going to upset me. I live in a household where French is the spoken language so I appreciated the break! I was more than happy to speak up in my native tongue. It felt good!

      She was annoyed that I was getting all the answers right. It wasn't that she didn't understand. She was just being a sore loser over name that tune! Ridiculous!

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  6. Wow! I often have fantasies of telling people off in English ( here is England!) .......but I am not quick or witty enough. LOL!

    Seriously, I can't believe this behaviour. Is this normal for French women? I have seen them aggressively jumping a queue before now, but not this kind of thing. I think I would have just thumped her back and thus caused a fistfight. Good self restraint.

    Love Denise

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    1. Hi Denise,

      Yeah it was pretty crazy. I have never really had this kind of confrontation here with French girls. They are usually more subtle. I don't think this was a French thing, or any culture other than bitchy girl culture which sadly is international.

      What I found more shocking was her apology. We still don't know why she even bothered. THAT I have never seen before! Maybe that's a French thing? Who knows.

      I hope all is well!

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  7. The language thing happens a lot in Korea, too. I haven't learned much Korean, despite living here for so many years, since I moved back & forth and thought I wouldn't be here for much longer and gave it up, but I've heard from my friends that they often get told to speak English. It's frustrating when you know that you're fluent in a language and the person is being rude about it!

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    1. Hi Martina,

      Thanks for commenting and welcome!

      Honestly I was okay with her request for English, even if it was meant to be bitchy. I'm much tougher in English! I think I would have sounded "cute" if I had said it in French. Unintentionally, she was doing me a favor. : )

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  8. Wow! This is one of the best stories i've ever, ever heard. Go you!
    Guess b*****s happen in every country! What did your friends (whose party it was) think?
    Sadly I think i'd have chucked the water in her face too - well done for being the better person and congrats on knowing you could do it in either language!
    Sarah :)

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    1. Hi Sarah!

      Our friends didn't know what had happened. I still think they don't. (There were a lot of people there.) That's why I stayed calm, I didn't want it to escalate because our friends were having a good time and didn't want that dumb girl to ruin the fun. But It ended up working out, she apologized and I got to get my dance on!

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  9. Bamboo earrings?! Oh girl, you tough!
    Personally, I think you handled yourself perfectly. You tried to be polite about it and she didn't respond so naturally you had to let your New Yawk out to play. x.

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    1. Hahaha I love my bamboo earrings! What I didn't tell you is that they say "I love you" in the center. : ) When I saw them in a shop on Broadway in Southside Wburg, I just couldn't resist. They are heavy though!

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  10. Wow! That is crazy! Good for you for showing her not to eff with us feisty American girls ;)

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    1. Hahaha thanks Stacy! It was one of the more aggressive situations I have been in here in Paris. French girls are usually much more passive, so I too was shocked. But yeah, I had no choice but to serve it to her. ; )

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  11. I've always thought of you as a crazy badass... or is that just crazy? ;o)

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    1. A little of both...but probably leaning closer to the ladder. ; )

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