Friday, February 24, 2006

A way to use your high school French

I have a nice rambling story for you!

So we were at a ward dinner tonight. The menu was Stouffer's lasagna. Not that I am complaining, it's not like I want to be on the activities committee. But this is the big adult dinner for the year; usually it is tri-tip and the lasagna was a bit of a letdown to say the least.

Also, I signed up to bring a green salad and somehow got volunteered to be a "hostess." This means you set the table and usually bake the lasagna. I didn't have to bake the lasagna. I'm a working mom so the RS president did it for me. Huh? My husband was home all day, he could have put the darn foil pan in the oven. Anyway, everybody else had a very fancy table with chargers and goblets and cloth napkins. We had our everyday yellow stoneware, IKEA glasses and paper napkins. You wanna volunteer me for a job you take what you get.

Actually it was quite a source of contention, because we were going to have 9 people at our table and I only have 8 yellow stoneware plates. I was going to go to the dollar store and spend 9 dollars on plates. My thrifty husband thought this was a dumb idea. I told him that first of all, he should be glad I am not buying goblets and chargers. Second of all, I am not going to goblet and charger land with 8 yellow stoneware plates and 1 hand-me-down white Dansk plate. (Though I do adore the white Dansk plates I got from my mom, I only have 5 of those. And I have some fabulous antique Noritake, but only 6 plates and about a million teacups.)

Anyway, seriously, you cannot comprehend the tension between DH and me on this dish issue. I told him I was very hurt that he did not trust me to solve this problem in a way that was both financially reasonable and acceptable to my sense of aesthetics. It didn't help. About 3 p.m. he called me to tell me that our whole fight was for nothing, because the ninth person at the table just backed out.

Apparently he did not hear the whole trust thing, but whatever. We ate on the yellow stoneware, a happy coincidence since the church-provided centerpiece was a bouquet of daffodils. Quite lovely, and matching.

So, on to the story from the title.

Around my very everyday table, we were talking about wishing we spoke Spanish. It would be very very helpful to speak Spanish, especially in our Young Women's group, where several girls come in from the Spanish branch attached to our ward. I mentioned that I had ignored my spanglophone mother's advice (I just made that word up) and took French instead of Spanish throughout high school and college. Several people confessed to the same sin and regretted that they had never used their French.

I in fact have used my French, and gotten paid for it. I freelanced for a translation service after my first son came home. I was editing an English translation from a French science dictionary. It had lots of funny Frenchisms, like if an entry was about a particular invention or discovery, it would end with a triumphant little, "Et c'etait un Francais qui l'avait accompli!" And it was a Frenchman who did it! Exclamation point!

(Sorry, I don't know how to do accents here. But you get the idea.)

And then I said, "And when I get my baby from Haiti, I'll use my French then."

Everybody gave me this blank stare. "What?" "Haiti, Haiti." More blank stares. Finally the lady next to me, who also happens to be my friend and the YW president I work with, said, "I thought you said Hades."

And I said, "No, I already have my kids from there."

A fact proved true when I came home at 9 and they were all wired on dye and sugar from 2 Scooby Doo popsicles each. Can't believe I actually paid that babysitter.


Mary Ann said...

I so love this, I am that other woman with the stoneware at the fancy ward dinner!!!!!! I relate to this so well!!!

SalGal said...

Is that where my kids came from??? I want my money back!

Essy said...

LOL...too funny!

Ana said...

So now I am wondering if they speak French in Hell. I'm sure there are still some English people who think so, and if you ask my brothers about French Canadians they might agree. But my DH is a quarter French/French Canadian, and he seems okay ... (yeah, I'm over the fight now)

Thanks guys!

Bookslinger said...


Immigrants from West Africa generally speak French. Senegal, Benin, Liberia, Mali, Niger (nee-ZJER). Also Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, and other East Mediterranean countries.

I took a beginning conversational French course, enough to say "I have a book in French, it's from my church. It's free. Wanna see it?"

Many of the church videos that are on DVD, and come in a multi-lingual edition, have a French audio track. Together Forever, Finding Faith in Christ, and Heavenly Father's Plan.

A French/English pair of copies of the Book of Mormon and a DVD with a French audio track can really make someone's day.