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Take 3

I was talking with a friend the other day about France.  She and her family are planning a trip and she mentioned having only high school French to get by on.  I told her that I hadn’t even had that when I was there, and I managed just fine.  And then I told her this story…which is so much better live and in person because I totally act it out!

In 2007, while living in Turkey, I visited a friend who lived in France.  One night, we were planning to have a French meal so I offered to go buy the baguette we would be eating.  I asked for specific directions to the bakery knowing how easily I get lost if I’m not paying attention.  My direction sensors were already working because when she told me it was a 10 minute walk close to where we walked two days before, I knew exactly how to get there.  After a little scribble of a map was made, I set out.  I didn’t take the map with me though, knowing I knew where to go.

I know, I know…most of you are thinking I got extremely lost…I’ve set it up that way.  The reality is that I found the shop with no problems whatsoever.  What happened next is what flustered me!

I walked into the shop, confident in my bonjour, and saw the baguettes in a basket behind the counter.  In every store I’d seen them in up to that point, they’d been in baskets close to the door so that customers could just help themselves.  I realized that I had no idea how to say one baguette in French.  The nice lady at the store said something to me, but I had no idea what.  I held up one finger, my pointer finger, then quickly switched to my thumb.  I had a dim memory from my last trip to France, 2 years and 9 months earlier, of my friend telling me that in France, the thumb was one.  I said “baguette” and gave the lady the thumbs up sigh.  Which I now know isn’t exactly accurate.  It’s more of a thumb to the side gesture!  I’m sure she was thinking that I was a crazy foreigner, but she handed me a baguette.  She told me how much it cost, and even though I didn’t understand her, I knew that it would be less than a Euro according to my friend.  I took a Euro out of my pocket, put it on the counter, and watched the lady try to figure out what to do with it.  She stared at the coin with a confused look on her face.  I looked down at the coin and realized that I had given her a Turkish lira.  I didn’t even realize I had any lira in my pockets!  I pulled out another coin and again, Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, stared proudly ahead.  Uh oh.  Did I even have any Euro on me?  Thankfully, I found a 2 Euro coin and paid with that.  By that point, the five French words I did know had escaped me.  I couldn’t remember how to say thank you or goodbye in French if my life depended on it!  The nice lady said something else to me so I just smiled, turned Asian on her, and backed out of the door bowing several times.  I walked back to my friend’s house giggling the whole way.  I’m sure that several people I passed and the lady waiting at the crosswalk with me wondered what was funny and if I was in my right mind!

Fun times.  Good memories!


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