To my fellow citizens,
I have lived on your soil for over five years, four of them as a bone fide French citizen. I have followed your soccer matches, I have sampled your cheeses. I have absorbed your language thoroughly enough to make idiotic mistakes in my mother tongue, like adding an extra "p" to apartment or inserting unnecessary spaces before semicolons and exclamation marks. I have even learned to swear and may be unwittingly transmitting this skill to the next generation.
I have read up on your history, and I know when the Capetien Dynasty gave way to the Valois and the Valois to the Bourbon. Although my understanding of the events of the Revolution may still be rudimentary, it isn't for lack of study.
I vote. I laugh at Louis de Funes' films. I eat foie gras at Christmas and drink rosé in August. When abroad, I defend your cuisine and your politics, even if some specialties are best enjoyed without a close examination of all of the ingredients.
I not only understand the phrase métro-boulot-dodo, but am oddly grateful that I get to consider the Parisian daily grind my own.
I am a food snob who would make Brillat-Savarin proud. I haven't eaten at a McDonalds since 1997, and I eschew the frozen food marvels of Picard Surgelés. Last Wednesday I made my own madeleines from scratch. From scratch!
So I humbly ask, when will you stop switching mid-sentence to a labored English when your hear me utter two words in French? When will you stop asking me "where do you live?" and look so surprised by my response? I know you're just trying to be friendly and helpful. I know that if I live here until I'm ninety I will never lose my petit accent. Yet with your best intentions, you're making me fumble too many conversations in boutiques and supermarkets and I'm getting tired of it.
You see, my heavily-accented but fluent French is usually much better than your serviceable high school English. Yet to avoid offending you, I continue in English and I end up embarrassing myself because -- believe it or not -- I don't know the script. Merci beaucoup, bonne journée, au revoir roll off my tongue so much more easily here than an artificial "thanks, good bye!" I feel like I'm playing the part of a tourist, but I assure you, I've gone native.
Go ahead and chuckle, if you must, when I flatten your Rs and your Us and confound the genders of your nouns. But keep it to yourself and keep talking with me in French, and I'll do my best to pretend not to notice.
Your faithful concitoyenne,
5 days ago