That doesn’t mean I can actually speak French.
The cute guy eventually became my tutor, and then my husband. My mother often tells him how much money he owes her because, dag nabbit, if she sent a kid to college to get a French major, said kid ought to be able to at least order off a French menu with a modicum of confidence.
As my French teacher, the wonderful Madame Marzi, once said to me, “You have a wonderful accent. If only I could teach you to actually speak French.”
Why do I bring this up? Well, as luck would have it, tonight, we welcome a French exchange student to our home for ten days. She is visiting us from a coastal town in France—the same one that my husband visited when he was part of the first group to partake in this exchange thirty years ago. We are all very excited: my daughter, because the young woman visiting us is the same age as she is and seems to have the same interests; my son, well, because he’s twelve and what twelve-year-old wouldn’t want a female French exchange student living in his house?; my husband because he is thrilled that the program is still in existence and thriving; and me…
Well, I’m not so sure. See, the French exchange student will be spending most of her free time—the time when she’s not at school with my daughter or visiting New York City—with me. The French major. The woman who once told her children, in French, while on vacation in Quebec, that we would soon visit the factory to make cheese. (What I meant to say is that we would soon visit the pool to go swimming. Trust me, a lot of these vocabulary words sound the same.)
The goal of her visit is to speak as much English as possible, something that will be necessitated by spending time with me, the non-French speaker. I am hoping that her English will be better than my French, but based on our meeting with last year’s participants, it’s a virtual crapshoot. Some students have more English than others and are very enthusiastic about using the language, while others have a rudimentary knowledge of English and prefer to speak their native tongue.
Regardless, it should be interesting.
And fodder for future books.
At the very least, it has gotten my family on board with cleaning. She will be staying in my son’s room, which has become the de facto guest room for all visitors. He remarked the other day that his room never looked so clean, and that he liked it that way. (We’ll see how long that lasts.) I spent the better part of Saturday at the laundromat washing blankets, comforters and sheets so all bedding in our house is nice and fresh. I scrubbed the bathroom tile and grout so that the room feels new again. If nothing else, her visit has prompted us to make this place spic and span.
Stayed tuned for updates on her visit and for the misadventures of “Maggie, the Only Diploma-ed French Major Who Can’t Speak French.”