Wednesday, August 28

I have a bad hair day and go to the class dinner.

Remember this tongue twister?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Here's the French version:
Si six scies scient six cyprès six cents six scies scient six cents six cyprès.
If six saws saw six cyprus six hundred and six saws saw six hundred and six cyprus.

We had to say this in class today. Fun.

Also:
rouler une pelle = tongue kiss ("French" kiss). (roll a shovel, literally.)

FINALLY learning useful things in this class.

15/20 on test. Not depressed.

To wrap up grammar with a bang, we're doing compound tenses like the plus-que-parfait and conditionnel passé with conditional sentences. I actually like this kind of thing!

Elle ne t'aurait pas quitté si tu étais plus gentil!
She wouldn't have left you if you were nicer!

Si tu avais passé ton permis, tu pourrais m'amener à l'hôpital.
If you had passed your driver's test, you could take me to the hospital.

It appeared that folks were having big problems with this in class when we were asked to do some exercises. It is indeed difficult the first time you try it.

Si le français n'était pas difficile, il ne serait pas intéressant.

And an example in class from the prof: Si Jean était français, il ne devrait pas être là. (If John were French, he wouldn't need to be here.)

Well, I object. With a name like Jean-Louis I am too French!

Just finished what I believe is my last homework of the summer. Can't believe it. Kind of sitting here in a stunned daze. What am I going to do with myself if I don't have any homework, tests, essays, dictées, or presentations? I know - drink!

I've spoken hardly a word of English all summer. Written a lot of English here, but that's all. We're all getting better at it. We do sometimes pause when we don't know a word, then say it in English, and if anyone knows the French word they'll say it. But that's all. 99% French. With many of my classmates, I don't even know if they speak any English at all. Kind of assume they do because it's so very common, but I wouldn't know for sure.

I mentioned an older couple from New Zealand that I enjoyed talking to a few times this summer. They were in a lower level class. We talked in English. And I had several nice longer conversations with random tourists from Canada and the States in English. But the rest was all in French.

Class dinner at 8 pm in about an hour from now at Le Trumilou, on the right bank of the Seine, just across the river from me. No need to take the métro, it's just a short walk. Gotta go check the hair to see if I'm fit for a public appearance. Maybe I'll wear my dress pants and give the jeans a break. Decisions!

Bad hair day. Greetings from Paris. I need a haircut so bad. I have no shame. That thing I'm wearing is called a "un peignoir". Très chic, nest-ce pas? Or a shower, maybe. Not feeling so fresh. Impressive forehead there. Can't remember who it reminds me of. Someone unpleasant. Don't have barbers here. Just coiffeurs who do both men and women. I'm allergic to them.

7 am. Time for a glass of wine before class. I don't give a s**t.

Maybe I should just let it grow out. Now this is what we're talkin' about, Preacher Book in Firefly.

River: Can't....Too much...Hair.
Zoe: River, honey? He's putting the hair away now.
River: It doesn't matter... it'll still be there... waiting.

I've got the forehead and the nose to pull this off. The hair needs to get whiter though. Just wait a few years.

He's even wearing a stylish Parisian scarf. How long would I have to stay in Paris avoiding those coiffeurs before I achieved this look? I'd like to try!

All showered, dressed, and ready to leave for class. Still scary, but better, don't you think?

Does this work for dinner tonight? Il faut être bien-habillé à la rive droite.

That's an old picture of Notre Dame behind me in my apartment, and that's pretty much where I'm going tonight. A fitting coincidence.

Sorry I didn't have time to stop in here to get a trim. Nice reflection of the building across the street. I like it!

Ah, the Seine in the evening. That's Notre Dame on the left in the distance on Île de la Cité, and Île Saint-Louis on the right.

The Seine again, on the right bank. Never get tired of it.

At the restaurant, Le Trumilou on the right bank of the Seine just across from Île Saint-Louis at 84 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville.

That woman in the jean jacket is Laddaporn, one of my classmates. Doing something on her cell phone, of course.

The menu. On the left is the fixed-price menu. For 20,50€ you get three courses. You can pick one each from a limited selection. Or for 16,50€ you can have an entrée plus a plat, or a plat plus a dessert. On the right is the a-la-carte menu. The wine list is separate.

From left to right: Joel, Ekaterina, Wee Ling, Laddaporn, and Hiroshi. There's another woman from Japan behind Joel.

It was a very nice dinner. Deo is not feeling well, so he and Raquel didn't come, but there were seven of us and we had a very nice time. That's about half the class. None of the young kids came, only the (slightly) older students. Lots of good food and good conversation.

By the end of the evening they were all calling me Jean-Louis.

Joel commented that he thought everyone else in the restaurant was French. No tourists. A nice place. Small, but that's a given here. Just a handful of tables inside.

We had Kir for an aperitif. The whole meal took a good three hours. Very French. Slow. Long pause between courses. Plenty of time for conversation. I like it that way. We eat way too fast back home, most of the time.

The size of our group, 7 people, was just right. We were close enough so that we could all hear each other and everyone talked. We didn't split up into separate little conversational groups. I think 8 is about the maximum number of people where you can do this. And the restaurant was quiet enough to make this possible. Very pleasant.

We talked a little bit about how it's too bad that the class was only 8 weeks, not enough time for people to really get to know each other and enjoy each other's company on occasions like this. We're like dogs meeting for the first time, we have to circle around sniffing each other before we decide that everything's OK and we can have some fun. But all's well that ends well, and I'm glad that we finally did finish the sniffing phase and managed to have a few good times together. We certainly all share a bond, having been through the class together. Very interesting social dynamics here this summer.

Wee Ling ordered tête de veaux. That's calf's head. We all thought she was very brave, but she didn't seem to think it was a big deal. She hadn't had it before. She said she was interested in trying it. She thought it was good. I was tempted by the escargot appetizer but didn't do it. I've had them a few other times this summer. Those are really good.

My dinner was filet de saumon crème safrandée, a file of salmon in a saffron cream sauce. Delicious. It's the sauce that makes the dish. Definitely yummy, a cut above the usual restaurant salmon I've had back home. And all for well under $30 American, not counting the wine (which was a bit on the expensive side). And the vegetables were very good too. Not just a crappy add-on to the meal, but an integral part of it, well-cooked and seasoned and everything. Hard to describe.

The wine was two bottles of this very nice Bordeaux. They let me pick the wine. That was fun. The waiter brought the bottle and poured just a taste into my glass and I got to swirl it around and smell it and take sip and say "Oui, très bon" and then he poured the other glasses. It's fun to pretend that you know what you're doing. Or maybe the waiter that brought the wine was a she? I've forgotten.

I had une assiette de trois fromages for dessert, a plate of three cheeses.

The Seine on the way home.