Recently I was shuffling through some old pictures and came across photos from my high school language arts trip to France and Spain. I could drone on and on about how fabulous the trip was; how wonderful it was to see the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and travel throughout the Loire Valley.. oh yeah, and Spain. Heh, I don't remember so much about Spain. We hoteled near a bull fighting arena and they all spoke Spanish. I studied French and the only phrase my friends in Spanish class taught me was, "¿comprar un kilo?", which, really, isn't helpful at all. Unless you want to extend your vacation in a Spanish prison.
Anyway, despite the historical buildings, the world-famous art and the breath-taking chateaus, the most memorable part of the trip was our tour guide, Frederic LaCroix.
Sigh, that's him in the brown jacket to the far right... Pay no attention to the high-waters. Or to the sleep-deprived, goofy 15 year old seated next to him. Did I tour Europe without a hair brush? Whatev. Mala likey her sleep, when she doesn't get enough the result is, well, not pretty.
Anyway, back to the hottie tour guide. He was a college student in Paris, studying history, who earned extra money by escorting American high schoolers around Europe. I have no idea how old he was. At 15, he was just an adult in my world. Mmmmmmmm, a hottie though, nonetheless.
For some reason, the name "Fred"
sounded horrible when paired with anything sexy, "ohhhh Fred!" "Mmmmmmmm Fred!" YESSSSSSSSSS, FRED!" just didn't seem to suit him. So I renamed him "Bob"... not that it was any more sexy, but I could remember it easily. You know, I've established I have issues remember things like names. Pshhhhh.
Well the name stuck, and the entire bus load of kids referred to him as Bob, and soon enough, so was our French and Spanish teachers, who were chaperoning the trip.
The school trip was 2 weeks; 1 week touring France, the other in Spain. Shortly into the trip, I found it more interesting taking in the sights of Bob then the billion year old churches. I wasn't the only one, all the girls were appreciating the French hottie. When not feigning interest in historical sites, we all hung close to Bob, laughing, teasing, having a great time!
Bob enjoyed the attention as well.Unlike the average tour guide who would make the mandated appearance to point out a king's summer home or famous painting, and then somehow vanish as to not to fraternize with the annoying American teens, Bob began hanging out with us between glimpses of the Mona Lisa and Chateau Chenonceau (see, I was paying attention to more than just Bob)! In fact, his constant presence with us may have concerned our teachers, but rather than address any perceived inappropraite behavior, they chose to take full advantage of the volunteer chaperon
In exchange for teaching us about all the king's mistresses and other salacious tales in French history, we taught Bob how to play Uno. Soon the trip became more like a world tour Uno tournament. Bob often came to our hotel room and played with us for hours (Uno, YOU PERVS! FOCUS!). Uno was also a good excuse for Bob to ride in our sleeper car for the 19 hour train trip to Spain. Good times.
Our teachers finally relinquished all chaperoning duties to Bob and he took a group of us out to a night club where we danced the night away to Spanish techno. Yeah, that part sucked. It got worse, however, when we begged the DJ to play anything American, and the best he could come up with was WMCA. Really? Well, somehow despite being French, Bob had no idea how to do the YMCA dance. Or at least that was his story when he asked me to show him, puppet-style - you know, standing behind him moving his arms for him- which I did. Hawt, right? Inappropriate? Pshhhh...
On our last night with Bob, he knocked on my hotel room door. Instead on insisting on one last Uno match, he asked me to meet him in his room in 20 minutes. My friends all turned and stared at me, slack-jawed.
I think I made it 11 minutes before I knocked on his door. He called me to come in while he was sitting at his desk, busy writing. He invited me to have a seat, but since he was sitting in the only chair in the room, I took a spot on the edge on his bed.
He finished the letter, folded it neatly in thirds and sealed it in an envelope. He then sat beside me on his bed. "I'm really going to miss you?" he said in his strong french accent that I had tried to
mock perfect for the past two weeks.
"Yeah. We'll miss you too". That's safe, right?
He handed the envelope to me. "Read this on the plane home."
Bob then asked if we could take a picture together. Much to my relief, he then hurried out to get a fellow student to take the picture. Whew! I wasn't sure where he was going with his photographic ambitions.
Of course I couldn't wait until I boarded the plane the following morning, and I ripped into the letter as soon as I returned to my room. Patience is not a characteristic I possess, especially when I have a hot little note burning my mitts.
Shit! I mean, MERDE! It was written in FRENCH! What in the past two weeks made him think I was actually a good student in French class! I now regretted my less than brilliant French skills as I skimmed the letter only to truly be able to decipher words like "the", "I" and "very", which wasn't very insightful at all. Tres damage! And it was a long letter. It killed me to not know what gems it contained.
On the bus to the airport I sat near my French teacher (nice to see her again!). I agonized. Of course I couldn't show her the letter, but she alone held the key to it's secrets. I had no choice but to act like a studious pupil and slyly ask her, "Madame, what does "XXX" mean?". She'd lift a suspicious eyebrow and translated for me. I'd cautiously wait a minute and then ask for another translation.
All was good until one particular phrase made Madame spin in her seat and stare at me directly, "Where did you hear that?". I stammered and mumbled something about the subway. "Well, it's disgusting and I'm NOT translating it!"
I folded the letter up and put it away, knowing it's decoding would have to wait until I got home and tried cracking it with my French to English dictionary. Sadly, I doubted my academic book would contain the proper translation. ZUT ALORS!