Thursday, February 23, 2017

I'm sorry! I'm Canadian!

I know you're dying to know how DH's phone app language lessons turned out. In summary: "I EAT TOMATOES!" is approximately as useful a statement as one might have expected. Nonetheless, DH really powered through our vacation with a jolly mix of Franglish, gesticulating, and ducking behind Medium Fry whenever the going got tricky.

Naturally, Medium Fry did an excellent job helping the rest of the fam muddle through. In less predictable news, I am pleased to announce that I used what I learned in/retained from school (which I am now referring to as "rudimentary transactional French") to reasonably good effect. Maybe that's a little subjective, but at the end of the day I mostly ended up with the baguette or café crème or five museum tickets that I had asked for, so it couldn't have been that bad.

It also wasn't necessarily all that good, either: my rudimentary transactional French did fail me a couple of times. For instance, I got really cocky about tossing a jaunty "Bonjour!" around as I strolled the cobblestone streets early each morning but when a garbage man followed up with a "Comment ça va?" one day, I completely froze. Completely. I stopped walking and just stood there with my mouth hanging open. He had already disappeared around a corner when my brain fired up again. "Shit!" I yelled after him, "Ça va bien!"

I also panicked a bit while counting out change for a cashier. Damn those confusing little Euro coins! Ideally, I would say something charming yet strikingly intelligent, with a slight, hard-to-place accent and a Bond-like suaveness: "Pardon the delay. I'm simply unfamiliar with your delightful currency." Panties would drop. It would be amazing. Unfortunately, in that particular moment the only statement I could cobble together was, "I'm sorry! I'm Canadian!" (I was corrected enough times on my Québécois pronunciation during our trip that I'm pretty sure the lameness of the statement wasn't even tempered by the quality of its execution.)

In retrospect it was a pretty Canadian thing to say, but I'm afraid it leaves things a bit open to interpretation. So if you are ever in the south of France and find yourself confronted with the stereotype that Canadians are bad at math, bad at money, and/or just plain "slow", it's probably my fault. If your parlay voo isn't too bad maybe you could correct the record while you're there. Regardless, definitely offer up some sort of apology - it's just our way.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Avengers: Age of Operator

I don't usually wish for my kids to stay little, but just this once could we go back to before I had to be in a moving motor vehicle with one of them behind the wheel? And then never come back to this time ever again?

That's right, Medium Fry is learning to drive. It's a tough time for us, since she is old enough to do so - at least from a strictly legal perspective - yet I am clearly too young to die. Competing interests abound.

Why don't I just fob this off on a certain someone else? Well, after a family night watching an Avengers movie, Small Fry sweetly characterized DH as the Hulk, "because you're always angry!" It just didn't seem fair to make my darling daughter - or anyone, ever - take driving lessons from the Hulk. (P.S. In case you were wondering, Small Fry assigned me Thor and patted my biceps as rationale.) (Hulk was a little bit jealous. I could tell.)

And besides, I did fob much of it off: thanks, AMA! Medium Fry's driving instructor spent a total of fourteen hours in a moving motor vehicle with her behind the wheel and didn't have even one heart attack, so that guy is totally whichever Avenger has nerves of fukken steel.

But there remains much practicing of driving skills to be done, which is where I come in. At first Small Fry also tagged along, but he spent the entire time enthusiastically squealing "encouragements" from the back seat ("I can't believe this is happening!" "I have NO faith in this!" "This is NOT gonna end well!" "WATCH OUT FOR THE RABBIT!") so we left him at home after that.

To be clear, we were driving so slowly that the neighbourhood gang of Hungarian partridges strolled past and laughed at us, so that rabbit was never in any real danger. However, the rearview mirrors of the parked cars we passed surely suffered some near-death experiences. But we reversed out of the driveway without incident. Went clockwise around our Circle, then counter-clockwise. Did a couple of left turns and a couple of right turns. Remembered our blinky lights. Never once went fast enough for the car to shift into second gear, but hey, maybe next time. Did not crash into my work truck when re-entering the driveway. That was enough success for one day! Then Thor had a stiff drink and a little lie-down, and was extremely grateful for the two feet of snow that fell that weekend because it offered a convenient excuse to not drive anywhere for the next week or so.

Unfortunately, the weather has taken a turn for the more driveable, so it looks like I'll be back in the passenger seat again one day soon. I'll do my best not to crush the arm rests in terror, but with pipes like mine and driving like Medium Fry's - well, shit happens sometimes.