Monday, March 20, 2006

luck o' the french

(I'm talking with a boy in my class, in french.):
He says: "Your french is not bad! Really, it's good!"
Me "Thanks. I've made a lot of progress, so I'm happy to hear that I've become better."
Him: "Your pronunciation is good, too. I like your accent."
Me: "Yes? This is true?"
Him: "Yeah! It's a nice accent. For me, it''s really sexy!"
Me: "oh."
Him: "Yeah, when you speak french to us in class, the boys all like it becuase we think it is sexy!
Me: "oh."

Why, you ask, would my student be revealing secrets which lead to embarassment for both parties, come classtime on wednesday morning? That's easy: beer! More specifically, St. Patrick's day beer. While I'm sorry to report that they do not serve large pitchers of green Miller Light here, which seems to me the only real way to celebrate the day*, little Poligny did show us Americans up a bit. In the morning, there was a belated Carnaval parade through town for the little kids. It was similar to how my elementary school does a halloween parade across the playground, except this was all the kids in town dressed up, walking the main road through the village, throwing confetti, banging drums...all followed by the chief of police himself, bringing up the rear. [What warmed my heart even more was how some of the lycee kids next to me gave an exaggerated cheer for the Chief, who responded with a friendly-yet-stern "Ok. That's enough." Taunting police -- the universal experience.]

*and, I suppose, is why I haven't celebrated much in the last three years

This was followed in the evening with a little party for the whole town. Before that, I was in Shopi (the small grocery store next to my apartment) buying food for the weekend. The girl who works in the evenings, and who is unbelieveably sweet to me, asked me if I knew about the party. I said no, so she told me about what was to go on, then said, "I'm going for a drink after work, so I hope to see you there!" This small-town stuff really gets me to absolutely no end.

In the place in the middle of town, they had erected a smallish tent. Inside, half the town packed in to buy very good, very local beer...and waffles. With nutella. Some musicians from town were playing irish music. I bumped into some of my friends, then saw other, more drunk, students -- which, you see, led up to the conversation above. It was a wonderful evening, with a constant stream of Polinoises whom I've come to know (the woman from the bakery, the person at the glass shop, the old man who owns the antique store, etc.) passing buy and saying hello. Even now, writing this, I feel a little choked up thinking about how much I love this place, how lucky I feel to have become a part of their lives, even for just a year.

On a much less sentimental note, I will share two other things I learned friday night. When I saw my friends sitting on a bench, I walked over and said to Lucie, "Hey, move over." They all burst out laughing, which made my insides die a little -- I knew that I said something which I didn't really mean. "You know, that's not very polite," she said "It's okay to say with me, or a close friend, but it's pretty coarse." A similar explanation followed when I described something as degolas. That word, which I thought was a general expression for 'unsavoury' or 'gross' isn't as rude, but it's certainly isn't part of polite conversation.

To illustrate, this is the rough equivalent to what I've been saying for, oh, the last four months.

1. I open the classroom door and motion for the students to go in. "Okay kids, move your goddamn asses."
2. Someone offers me a piece of really ripe, moldy, funky cheese. "No thanks, it smells a bit too crappy for me."

(note: the publishing program is giving me a bit of trouble again, this time not letting me upload any pictures. it may cause some irregular posting until things get straightened out.)


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