I realized I was faced with a dilemma, one I could no longer avoid. If I continued down this avenue, it would only be a matter of time before gaining the feared and revered… Frenchman 15.
Paris is known for many beautiful things: from the Eiffel Tower to the Seine, take your pick. But for me, Paris hosts more than just a feast on the eyes and rather a feast in my stomach. Crusty artisanal baguettes, silky buttery cheese, juicy succulent figs… Dare I continue with frothy cappuccinos, fruity pops of wine, and bubbly sparkling water… Paris is not only delicious, it’s flat dangerous.
“We’ll speak only in French together, okay?” he said to me.
Nodding with a feigned air of oh, but of course! I strode alongside my new Parisian-Moroccan mentally equipping my brain for the next few hours to come. All French. All the time. This challenge was feasible, and not only that, totally reasonable. Here I stood in a foreign country amongst native speakers who let beautiful French roll off their tongues and into the ears of their Parisian counterparts. Of course as the fresh wannabe Frenchie that I am, I’m going to try to speak French.
But for those who’ve ever learned a foreign language know, communicating is much different than conversing.
The number one goal of moving to a new city – country, continent, culture aside – is you want to feel like you belong. Like those mismatched tables and chairs at your local Caféotheque, you want to be that chair with a coffee bean sack cushion that seamlessly blends with the quirky nature of the establishment.
But how does one know when they finally made it to be… accepted?
I took my seat on a wooden stool alongside the velvetine couch reserved for English assistant friends Le Roux and Souriant. Taking a small, philosophical sip of my fruity espresso, I determined there are phases and stages of being… accepted.
“Today I got accused of being French,” I excitedly blurted. Three weeks into living in Paris, this news had weight.
“How can this be true?”
My Frenchie American friend, whom I’ll call Chèvre, curiously asked. Chèvre was staying in Paris for the weekend before moving to West Coast France to teach English. During his first few hours in France, we already were conspiring in ways we could, at least minimally, appear French. Chèvre took the route of purchasing a chic, black reusable Monoprix grocery store sack and reclaimed it as a man-purse. I purchased a long red scarf and denim jacket. We both bought the bookThe Bonjour Effect. In hindsight, we both still had a lot to learn.