The French Patient

Do you ever think of the skills you wished had learned, but did not ? Like becoming a ballroom dancer, the equal to Fred Astaire, gliding effortlessly across a public television stage, doing the paso doble, the envy of the untuxedoed crowd.

Or casually taking your place on a piano bench to dazzle an audience with a Mozart concerto, molto allegro, accompanied by a dozen strings (no ukeleles please).

Or lifting your nose slightly skyward, speaking French on a sidewalk cafe in Paris, quietly honking like a goose in heat whose 12 hour Afrin nasal spray had worn off last week.

Never the francophile, I do, however, like the language, the wine, the bread, and a really good hot dog slathered in  frenchs_food_logo.jpgFrench’s mustard.And who can resist those boys on the bicycles, shrink-wrapped like sausages, more colorful than a box of crayolas, pointy helmeted, and perhaps steroid influenced, on a swift traverse of charming countryside in the Tour de France?752px-tourdefrance_2005_07_09.jpg

Frankly, though, I’ve never been comfortable speaking many actual French words, even though I know the meanings through crossword puzzles. Examples:

etui– a sewing case


segue– bridge or transition


and the list goes on…raison d’etre, cirque d’soleil, menage a trois, pinot noir, louvre.

Oh sure, there are many french words we may all use daily without hesitation or equivocation, e.g., crochet, physique, quiche, plateau, parfait, boudoir,or in the case of our esteemed editor and his virtual fan club, the entourage.

The point is, I can’t really go into a nice restaurant and order wine by telling the 22 y/o waitperson, Jason or Brianna, yes, we’ll have a bottle of the Pine Not, No Ear with our lasagna. Define embarassment.

So much easier to say, ‘we’ll have a glass of the house wine’, ‘in red please’. Or what do you have in a Murr Low ?

Perhaps in June 2008 we will go to France, visit the Airstream Park featured in the magazine, follow the Tour de France in a rented class C, and maybe even visit with the acclaimed Bruno.

But for now the editor has admonished me because one of my uncomfortable words is not really French at all, but Italian. Oh well, we’ll cross the Golden Gate segue when we come to it.