When I was in first grade I went to a Private School where they taught us French. From that moment on, I always fantasized about a trip to Paris or being able to speak French fluently (I was always pretending that I could but all I could really say was “bonjour, call me Jeanette”).
After first grade my parents switched me to public school where you can’t start foreign languages until seventh grade. You can imagine my excitement that first year of French class. I have always had to work very hard in school because learning didn’t come easy to me but I was passionate about the language and I tried to work hard at it.
I continued taking French until 10th grade. At that point I did not like school and tried not to take any challenging classes if I didn’t have to so I gave up language classes once I met all of my requirements, but I wish I had stuck with it. I was not fluent but I could speak French well enough. That year there came an opportunity to travel to the French speaking part of Canada but my parents didn’t have enough money at the time to send me so I couldn’t go.
Oh well, one day I will make it to old Paris where I can eat croissants and drink boissons.
I still speak French to my children, but by now I can only remember a couple phrases and words. Sometimes I can understand the context of French songs when I listen to Chalres Trenet on Pandora (which makes me excited) but other than that, I have forgotten most of what I have learned in school.
I still have a dream to travel to France one day. The idea is so romantic and dreamy. I know it will most likely be in many years once our children are grown, so I have some time to study up and re-acclimate myself with the language.
I tell Ryan (when I am whining about my desire to go to France) that “ALL I want to do is go to France, eat at a French café and speak French to a French person!”
Well, we may not have been in France, but I had my opportunity and I BLEW it!!!!!
When we were in New York City a group of French speaking citizens were walking in front of me and I accidentally bumped into them (probably because I was eves-dropping trying to figure out if they were in fact speaking French. I am weird like that.).
Without thinking, I said: “Excusez- Moi!”
The woman immediately turned around and surprisingly asked me (in French) if I could speak French.
I said: “un petite” (which means, a little).
Then she begins to speak French at me really fast and I was so excited and trying to listen and literally the ONLY thing I could think to say in response was: “Pourrais je aller aux toilette s’il vous plait?” (which means, May I go to the bathroom please?)
Oh no. You can’t say that Janet. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.
So, I didn’t.
I responded to this women in English telling her that I am only visiting NYC and my dream is to speak French to a French person but my French is not very good.
She smiled at me politely, and walked away with her group.
<NOOO! You ruined it Janet!!!!>
I’m sure you can imagine that I awkwardly yelled “Au Revoir” as the lady walked away. And then I put my face in my hands. And then I complained to Ryan that I had the opportunity to live out my dream and I ruined it because the only thing I could think about was the toilet.
Ugh. Idiot! <in my very good French accent>