Monday, February 16, 2009


My level of France retardation spiked this past week with a series of events that left me googling "loss of brain cells"....

French class, take 3.
After two disappointing rounds at Alliance Francaise last year, I was able to sign up for super cheap French classes through the mairie. I have learned not to cheat my way through placement tests and I showed up the first day to learn that after a year in Paris, I am now qualified for level 2. YES! I can say all sorts of things now but my major problem remains...I still don't understand one word anyone says to me. I am 100% convinced now that I am either an asshole who doesn't listen or I actually do have a learning disability. My class is held in an elementary school and I felt the butterflies as I squeezed myself into the tiny, tiny desk and looked around at the 30 other adults. I fought a sudden urge to yell "CAN WE ALL GET THIS OVER WITH!!? MY NAME IS DANA AND I JUST WANT YOU PEOPLE TO LIKE ME, OOOKAAAY??!!" I add "Tourette's" to my internal "to google" list and I wondered if anyone else is afflicted with childhood holdover anxiety disorder.

Our first lesson is to turn to our neighbor and interview them. Where he/she is from, what they do, how long they have been here, etc. After your neighbor interviews you, you are to present each other to the rest of the class. OK, no sweat, I think. I turn to my neighbor....Jonas.
Where are you from?
I write DENMARK.
What city?
Can you spell that, please?
OH! DRESDEN, DENMARK I carefully write.
OK, age?
24? No, 26 he corrects.
Oh, right. I knew that one. (Note to self: brush up on numbers 1-10)
OK. What do you do?
Physicien, he says.
DOCTOR, I write. Wow, they must have really super advanced med school in Denmark, I think. OH those Danish! So efficient and so very smart too!

We finish our interview and the teacher begins calling out names to present. I smile as my name is called and stand proudly to announce my new neighbor. I got this in the baaaag. My very first words to the class, I am ready to make an animated and friendly first impression...

"I present to you....JONAS! (I gesture grandly to him). Jonas is a DOCTOR from DRESDEN, DENMARK!"
Silence. Blink. Blink. Something is clearly wrong as I look around at the puzzled faces. My teacher asks me to repeat, please?
"Jonas is uh.....a doctor....from.....Dresden...Denmark...he is Danish..." Jonas taps my leg and quietly and politely informs me he is actually a physicist from Germany. I feel the blood drain as I search wildly for something to say, in French, something...ANYTHING to save me from this horrible display of inadequacy. I try and muster my shattered self confidence.
"Ha....ha...uh...just now...what FUNNY! I think he say Denmark....I hear Dresden...what is reason I am here!"
I awkwardly sit down and concentrate on making my face turn back to white from purple. I can't even look at Jonas, the physicist from Germany. Or the rest of class for that matter. I pray someone else will make a similar mistake..."Maria is a FISHERMAN from CANADA!"...."Antonio is an ASTRONAUT from KOREA!"....aaaanything.
But no one does.

I have been searching for a good lotion for my winter dry skin. After carefully scouring the shelves at the pharmacy, I see a picture of a baby on a giant jumbo size bottle. OH! BABY lotion, perfect! After slathering this on my body every night for two weeks, I notice my skin is getting progressively red and bumpy, I frequently wake up in the night itching and I am developing some sort of skin condition on my feet. I take a closer look at the bottle again and realize there is actually an English translation on the back.
Baby soap.
It's soap.
I have been slathering myself in soap for two weeks wondering why I am itching and why my morning showers are particularly frothy.
It's because it is SOAP.
Not lotion.

I made some Vietnamese food yesterday. Chopping the hot pepper for the sauce, my nose itched and while scratching it, I accidentally shoved a bunch of hot pepper seeds up my nose. The fiery burning quickly spread from my nose to my throat and I spent the next hour making "freaked out cat with a fur ball stuck in throat" gagging sounds, praying to god that the neighbors weren't home.

Just trucking along, as usual.


Anonymous said...

Dana -

I am a random internet stalker, but I HAD to comment:

This post had me laughing OUT. LOUD.

Thanks for the laugh, and GOOD LUCK!


Ksam said...

Absolutely hiLARious!

Starman said...

Oh I sympathize with you. I probably wouldn't have understood as much as you. I can say almost anything in French, and they seem to understand me, but when they talk....

אלוהים said...


one german guy in my french class once had to read a french text, and he managed to mispronounce and misspeak e-v-e-r-y single word... even the hero of the text, "lolita" (really...) he called "latisha".

it was great.

Karen said...

you're the funniest person i know.
I have concocted my own combination of coconut oil and olive oil. I figured I could also cook with it in a pinch. It is making me smooth and slippery, as well as my whole bathroom. i almost crowned myself as i stepped into the shower. It was like stepping onto a sheet of ice? a banana peel? I recovered without injury. Love Karen

margaret said...

Killingly funny post, KFD! Your descriptions of French class are right up there with those from David Sedaris. Keep 'em coming!

words and photo booth moments said...

oooh but it's happened to the best of us!!! the baby soap funny i was shaking my head the entire time, because my first year in paris i kept raving to the folks at home about how good the laundry detergent smelled in france {never realizing how my clothes never quite got clean} it wasn't until i moved back to paris for the second time, that i realized that my first year i'd spent washing my clothes in fabric softener... uh, ya, so like i said, we've all been there and it makes for way better stories anyway. great post thanks for cheering me up on a gloomy day....

Anonymous said...

LOL, just call me Random Internet Stalker II, also laughing out loud. Incidentally, I somehow arrived here by googling "Parisians don't smile". :o)

Now I'm off to watch your French boy video...

Mille Mercis for starting my day off with such merriment!