Frehel Diaries: Lumière D'Étoile, Lumineux D'Étoile **
"Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars." Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
We stop at a supermarchette on the way home. I don't bother to ask what will be for dinner, I won't understand the answer. Once home the Sauvage cooks, and I take advantage of the time to use his computer and email my mother that I haven't yet been eaten by marauding French jackals. He takes breaks while cooking to come in and see what I'm doing.
The Sauvage loves music and so he takes his cooking breaks to show me some videos of French music. He introduced me to Fatal Bazooka, which is kind of like if there was a French Wierd Al who only makes fun of rap. He played for me "J'aime trop ton boule" (translation: I love/like your ass too much). There is really no description of this video that can do it justice, but it gives you a pretty clear idea what the French think of our booty shake obsessed culture.
Sure it's blatantly homophobic, but how often do you get to see a French guy in gold tights jazzercizing? I was also introduced to the French rap internet sensation Kamini rapping about his home town "Marly Gomont" or as one You Tuber called it a song about growing up Black amongst White froggy rednecks in a shithole somewhere in the French outback
. You never knew that cows could figure so prominently in a rap video with a singer who looks like he got his hairstyle from watching Eddie Murphy perform "Buckwheat Sings." My favorite was Les Wampas singing Manu Chao.
Don't ask me what that one is about because I really haven't a clue, but I liked the song anyway. This is how the French pretty much feel about American music. They listen to it, they like it, but they don't really understand it. It is, most likely, better that way and so I've never attempted to really translate or understand any one of these songs.
The Sauvage has invited two of his friends, both with muslim names, to dinner. Apparently what he hasn't told them is that his new girlfriend doesn't understand French very well. At first they ask me if I own a car, if I know how to drive. I explain that in NY a car is really unnecessary and too expensive. That one could have a fabulous apartment for the cost of a car. After some questions about the subway, the friends and I settle into an uncomfortable silence knowing that my vocabulary is pretty much exhausted. Dinner comes soon and with it they fall easily into French conversation. And with this I am lost. It is not only that the conversation is in French, it's a conversation amongst good friends. The odds are even if I understood I would have still been lost, having no reference to both personal and cultural events that would be of interest.
As an only child, whenever I am uncomfortable, I retreat. This separation is not necessarily always physical, but that is one way of retreating. Generally, I retreat into books or writing. A favorite hiding place. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. So as the friends joined the Sauvage in the kitchen while he made coffee chatting away, I sat in the living room forgotten for a bit, and then went into the computer room to chat away with my old cyber pals. I cruised by Joe Flirt's
and struggled with the French keyboard to leave him an apparently cryptic comment.
The friends perhaps sensing that the Sauavge would like to spend most of the evening alone with me, or perhaps thinking I was shy around company, depart. We sit at the table with coffee. He asks me if I'm middle class. And me, being ambitious, try to explain to the Sauvage that in the US the middle class is so large that it has been divided into three segments Lower, Middle, and Upper Middle Class. I belong, or at least used to, Upper Middle Class. He responds that I must be middle class because I'm an intellectual.
And this is when I tell him for the first time I'm Jewish. I explain that I'm not an intellectual because I'm middle class, but rather because I'm descended of European Jewry.
And his response?
"I've never known a Jew." And if I spoke French well enough I would have said to him "Honey, you've known a Jew pretty damn well for the last 24 hours so you best revise that statement." Unfortunately I simply said I was one. He shifts the focus of the conversation. "I like smart women" he says to me.
"If I'm so damn smart," I think to myself," why can't I explain anything about myself?" And
there is a moment of foreboding, if I can't explain myself how can this man really know me? And if he can't know me, how can he love me? I banish these thoughts by finishing my coffee. I can't be having these doubts on the eve before our trip to Frehel, a roadtrip involving an unknown number of hours and obstacles not to mention 13 more days.
Still, as he clears the table, I look out at the night sky and see a star. I quickly make my wish, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have my wish come true tonight....Please let him not turn out to be an asshole.” And then I immediately begin to wonder if French stars honor wishes made in English by little American girls.**Title Translation: Star Light, Star Bright
Bad Bunni posted at 1/17/2008 03:51:00 PM