Frehel Diaries: Meet the Parents**
It had been a long day. After dropping me off at the hotel, the Sauvage took Nana home to his parents house. By the time he got back, I was dozing, which didn't keep him from rousing me for a bit of sleepy sex.
The next day he got up early and after yet another bout of sleepy lovemaking, he went to take his daughter to her horse back riding lesson, but not before he told me that we were going to have lunch with his parents.
I select my outfit carefully as today-a black v-neck t-shirt and a black skirt. It's simple, classic, subdued. I figure they are going to have enough shock dealing with me that I should at least demonstrate some restraint in my choice of outfit.
I am applying make up, nothing over the top or glittery, just some subtle enhancement of my features, when he returns to pick me up. He sits on the bed and tells me that he lied to his father about me. He told his father that I teach at the university in Paris. I look at him. “He knows I don’t speak French well, right?” I ask. “Well, your french isn’t bad, and this is just your first year.” So his father is supposed to believe that I, who can barely express myself in French, am actually a professor at a university in Paris. Even I’m not THAT ballsy. Still my lack of language protects me. The Sauvage is the one who is going to have to do all the talking, so I can defer to him to perpetuate the lie. And if we get caught, well, I can always say I didn’t understand.
His parents house was lovely, surrounded by flowers and roses with a vegetable garden in the back. The Sauvage introduced me to both his parents who spoke to me quickly in French and it became immediately clear to me that he hadn't told them that I do not understand French very well, and certainly not when it is spoken to me quickly. They looked at him searchingly for an explanation. "She understand if you speak slowly," he told them. I began to wonder what, if anything, he told them about this strange girl he had invited with him on his family holiday.
Did any of them, even him, have any idea who they invited into their lives? This strange little girl with the notebook. Did they think of me as an annoyance? Did they have any idea how dangerous I could be?
We all have a drink of kir in the living room and toast before heading into the kitchen for lunch.
While breakfast is not a big deal in France (it's catching on now thanks to American influence), both lunch and dinner are three course affairs. While lunch for Americans is often a one plate something most likely prepared in a microwave, the typical French lunch left me overwhelmed. Where do they find the time to make this food? And then to enjoy it? This lunch was to establish what all the lunches with the parents were to be like.
We eat at a table in kitchen. The father offers me a glass of wine from a box of wine, yes a box of wine, on the table. I politely turn him down. The mother remarks that I am eyeing the fish frying on the stove “like a cat.” Actually I am eyeing the fish on stove like a person who doesn’t eat fish. The French are big on eating everything. I am aware from the Sauvage’s behavior that my lack of appetite and my inability to eat everything served to me is surprising to him.
The lunch begins with a salad of lettuces from their garden, which is tossed with a light almost not there vinaigrette and crottin. Next, were the fried fish and boiled red potatoes still steaming.
In Brittany, they eat potatoes strangely. Boiled potatoes are served steaming hot in a bowl with the skins still on. Each diner than takes a potato, deftly peels it, and then slathers it with butter. The French demonstrate a dexterity and facility with a knife that would set a neurosurgeon’s teeth on edge with jealousy and are so carefree when they handle a knife they would give my mother an aneurysm with anxiety contemplating severed fingers on the lunch plate.
Pretty quickly everyone essentially forgets about me at lunch. It shouldn’t surprise me. As someone who has used my ability with language to form a career (such that it is) not to mention a rather unusual internet persona a little bit of street justice to some of ex-boyfriends-it shouldn’t surprise me that without language I essentially fail to exist. To that end I have my little notebook in which I jot all my notes in English. So that I don’t fail to exist all together. When the others chat brightly with each other as if I am no longer visible, I take out my notebook. The notebook does seem to attract some attention and the Sauavge explains that this is normal for me. The language barrier thankfully prevents me from being able to give any detailed explanation of what I'm writing. The Sauvage joking calls the notebook my Bible to his parents and explains I always have it with me. I have enough language to respond to that, “I am a writer, I write.” "Naturally" he responds and smiles. He has no idea what I'm writing, but he seems to rather like that I am a writer. For me, it's that familiar retreat, it’s reassuring to still have one language that I express myself in precisely. And to have some activity to occupy me, an excuse, as it is, for not speaking.
After a homemade apple tart, with thinly sliced apples that melted on my tongue, and the cheese and coffee, we sit at the table. The father goes into the living room to watch television, Nana goes into her room to change out of her riding clothes, and the Sauvage and his mother begin to chat.
The mother attempting to banish my uncomfortable presence as well as to speak freely with her son about what insanity provoked him to bring me with him to Frehel invites me to explore her garden outside.
I wander out to appreciate the roses and the small vegetable garden in the back. There’s a clothes line and recognize my two shirts. The Sauvage had asked for my laundry the night before and I handed it all to him, panties included, without thinking. And there, balled up on the line-affixed with a wooden clothes pin-are my black satin panties with the rhinestone cat glinting in the Brittany sun. And I realize that nothing I could worn or said or done was going to make his parents like me, no matter what I do-they never will.
**I feel like I'm turning into David Foster Wallace with these footnotes, but when I got back from Frehel this was the first story I told the Doberman. He loved it, and already his girlfriend knows the story. So this post is for him, so he can simply forward this post for the entertainment of others.
Bad Bunni posted at 1/22/2008 10:24:00 PM