Friday, March 12, 2010

Lost in Translation

So sorry, I've dropped off the blogaroo map again lately. The good news is I'm no longer living under a massive, fallen pine. The bad news is I've been dying under the weather. Sinus infection and laryngitis (Bev and I would make a great singing duo!). Good times.


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 and left us in his care so they could go get rip-roaring drunk.

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!


Frank Irwin said...

Shirley, you've had someone translate it since then! What's it say? What's it say?

Bev said...

Why that pervy little Frenchie! Just look at him, all smarmy with his arm around the Lolita in the... um, are those shorts? WTF are you wearing?

And yes, I must know! What did it say?

When I was 17 I went on a school trip to France... and so did my boyfriend. You want to see some anxious chaperones? Thankfully, only one person came back from that trip pregnant, and it was the married gym coach who had come along with her husband. Phew!

wv: dogesp. When Fido knows things he really shouldn't know....

MtnMama said...

That is a fantastic story! I never got to go anywhere, and I am still jealous of those who did. But I did have a huge crush on my English teacher - and understood every word he said. I even dated him after I graduated (and I was slightly older). He looked like Jackson Browne.

Frank Irwin said...

So, MtnMama, it was your science teacher that took you to your prom?


MJenks said...

Ah, tres bien histoire, Mala! Je veux savoir qu'il a ecru dans sa lettre. Mais, tu veux savoir qu'il a ecru dans sa lettre, aussi!

janiece said...

You better tell us what it said!!!!

MtnMama said...

Frank: My science teacher? Um, that WOULD be my dad.

Coffeypot said...

I think he was telling you how great it was to spend time with a young woman who shaved her legs and underarms.

Elliott said...

I missed out on the good trip to France, despite taking French for 8 years. Hit Montreal, though, and it hit me back...I had two black eyes and was horribly, violently sick for the last two days of our trip.

What's with the surly one-eyed girl second from the left?

Lee said...

Where the heck is the rest of this post?! Part deux IMMEDIATELY!

onebadmamajama said...

OMG! What did it say?! Please please PLEASE don't make us wait two weeks to find out :)

Mala said...

Frank - You know I hate it when you call by another woman's name!

Bev - Just as I am still to this day, I'm ALL about the fashion. What? Pink sweaters don't go with... with... what the hell am I wearing?!

MtnMama - What? That sounds like a blog post to me!

Frank - She said "Jackson Browne" not "Peter Jackson".

MJenks - Je ne me souviens pas ce que dit la lettre. Je blâme le "stroke". Mais je souvenez‑vous il dire quelque chose à propos de Bob désireux de savoir pour lui-même, si j'avais tout plus tatooes n'importe où sur mon corps.

Janiece - See above response to MJenks.

MtnMama - Frank's having an off name; calling my Shirley, confusing subjects. My goodness, he sounds like me!

Coffeypot - I think I was too young to even shave...

Elliott - The whole city of Montreal hit you? Le bastards!

Lee - See above response to MJenks.

OBMJ - See above response to MJenks.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

What a fabulous story! Pervy Bob! So did you ever find out what the letter said? I am now fascinated/repulsed by what that sentence was.

Btw, I accidently deleted your comment on my blog. Totally made me laugh (sleeping on couch space / wife) and I hit reject ... sorry! Wanted you to know I was not blog-blocking you. Your comments always crack me up!

Kate said...

Great story :) French guys are famous for being swarmy ... and I think that they like to think of themselves as being suave and romantic. When I lived in Paris I remember being very drawn in by all the "you are so beauuutiful" romantic words, but the kissing ..... not so much. All I can say is, wayyyyyyyy to much tongue! Too bad you don't have the letter anymore, I could send it to my gal pals back in Paris and have them decipher all the naughty words, hehe.

Brady's Mommy! said...

Mala,cop to it. You still wear those "shorts" today!

Maria said...

ARGHH --- must know the contents. You are killing me!!