A Franglais Fail

Last time I told you about my toilet troubles when I met French Charming’s mum.  Four months later is was time to meet the whole family!  If you haven’t figured it out yet, something always happens when it comes to me, otherwise there would be no story to tell.

Once I had returned to the states after “breaking” the toilet, French Charming’s sister (we will call her Frenchette) contacted me via Facebook messenger (yes, she speaks and writes in English).  She wanted to see if I could manage to come back to France in four months for French Charming’s birthday. Not just any old birthday, it was going to be a surprise 40th birthday, with family and friends.

I had the time off, so that part was easy.  French Charming and I had actually planned for me to be there for his birthday and, we decided, that would be the time that I would meet his children.  He was so excited and was trying to plan the perfect weekend for us since it would be our first time all together.

Frenchette had decided the “vacation home” would be the perfect spot for the party.  Yes, the house with the broken toilet.  Yes, it was still broken.  However, this was the only place that was big enough for everyone coming from other parts of France to sleep over.  Now, somehow, I had to convince him that we should go to the vacation home for the weekend with the kids.

French Charming already had other ideas.  He wanted us to go visit his friends in Biarritz and take the kids to the beach.  Mind you, it would still be winter so there would be no swimming or anything like that.  So, before those plans were made, I contacted his sister about it who contacted the friends in Biarritz who had to make up a reason why we couldn’t come and visit them this particular weekend.   It was brilliant!  When FC (French Charming) called his buddy he was told “Sorry but my in-laws will be here staying at our place.”  To say FC was disappointed would be an understatement.

French Charming’s plan B – for us still to go to Biarritz and get a hotel room on the beach.  I was able to guide him away from that by saying that it would be the first time for the kids to be with me and wouldn’t it be uncomfortable to be stuck in a hotel room together?  Especially if the weather would be bad!

French Charming’s plan C – was to stay in Bordeaux and go to his friend’s home and let all the kids play together.  These friends are a really cool couple, also both working in the same airline business as FC, with two young children.  As you might imagine, they had been invited to the surprise birthday party as well, so they told him they would be out of town that weekend.

Frenchette and I were beyond pleased with how his friends had managed to avoid making plans and avoid letting him in on the secret.

I had waited until the time got a little closer to push for us going to the vacation home.  It was just at the right time too.  He was upset with his friends and wanted us to do more than just stay at the house in Bordeaux, so I suggested going to the vacation house because it was bigger than his apartment, near the beach if the weather was nice, we could walk into the little town and get things to eat like fresh oysters, etc.   He finally agreed.

Everything was going perfectly.  I just had to stall a little while after my arrival in Bordeaux before we could drive to the vacation house to allow time for everyone to arrive, food to be prepared, and the house to be decorated.  I was in communication with his sister the whole time.  The hilarious part was how he was really upset that his friends were all busy…for this special weekend of me meeting the kids for the first time…AND it was his BIRTHDAY!!!  I wanted to laugh as I knew they were all going to be there to share this special day with him.

Are you wondering what I did yet?  Wait for it….it’s classic, and lives on to this day.

When we pulled up to the house, everything was closed up as normal.  The window shutters were all closed, the gate to the driveway closed and locked, no signs of life.  I let him open the door and enter the kitchen, it was pitch black.  He opened the kitchen shutters and from the living room the “Happy Birthday to ya” (by Stevie Wonder or Lionel Richie – not sure which as they both pop up on the search) song started playing kinda softly at first.  French Charming was baffled and freaked out a little and was about to go see where it was coming from when the lights came on.  There, in the living room, was his sister, Frenchette, her husband and their children, his friends from Biarritz with their children, his friends from Bordeaux and their children, and his mum.   There was a huge “Happy Birthday” sign above the doors to the terrace.   The surprise was a HUGE success.  He was then laughing about how upset he had been with everyone rejecting plans with him.

Now, I had started to learn a little French, but I was not much farther than “les toilettes sont mort” at this time {because I had to with my psycho French teacher}.  It’s difficult enough to try to speak to one person in a language you really don’t understand, but try 16 people, all talking at the same time!  Luckily, besides French Charming, his sister spoke English very well and his friends in the airline business too.

Yes, the toilet was still broken.  It could be used for “small jobs” as long as the toilet paper was put in the trash.  But serious business had to be done downstairs – out the kitchen, into the garage, into the downstairs portion of the house.  And each time anyone asked why they had to go outside and back in downstairs for the toilet, the story of how I broke it was told again and again.  I was infamous…already.

It was finally time to eat and there was quite a spread!  His sister and the wives of the other couples had all pitched in to prepare things for this amazing meal.  What is even more special is that they all prepared everything GLUTEN FREE, for me!  That made me want to just cry with gratitude.

Birthdaymeal

Champagne had been flowing from the moment we arrived with birthday toasts and wishes.  Now the wine was flowing in preparation for this spectacular birthday meal.   I was having a wonderful time despite the fact that I really understood nothing being said.  French Charming was a gentleman and would try to keep me current of the conversations as best he could.  Frenchette was also really good about keeping me in conversations.

The appetizers were brought out and passed around.  I took one of the red purply colored ones.

Beetroot

I turned to French Charming and whispered “What is this?”  He turned to his friend who had prepared this delightful looking treat and asked her what it was.  She replied “Betterave”.  Okay, that didn’t really help me much so I asked him “What is betterave?”  He couldn’t think of the english word for it, so he used his phone for the translation.  “Ah, it’s beetroot, or beets” he replied.  By this time, everyone was interested in our conversation as they saw him on his phone and our struggle with the translation.

Now, let me interject for a moment.  You know in English there are many words that sound exactly the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings (homonyms)?  For example: to, too, and two or pair, pare, and pear.  Now, as you can imagine there are words in both English and French that sound the same but have different meanings.  For example: entrée in French translates to “entrance” and so it is the first course of the meal such as a salad, but in English it is the main course.  There is also the word, bras (the s is silent).  In French it means “arms” but in English it’s the lingerie device to hold up the boobs.  {Perhaps arms are supposed to hold up boobs too?}

And back to our discussion of the little red purply appetizer.  French Charming tells me that betterave is beetroot or beet.  So I say out loud “Ahhh, j’aime la beet!” thinking that I’m saying “I love beets” in Franglais, French and English mixed.  However, there is a word in French that is pronounced exactly like beet (or beat) only it is spelled bite.  It doesn’t mean to chomp something with your teeth!  It is the French slang for the male reproductive anatomy, not talking about the testicles either.  So, I announced, fairly loudly and proudly, in front of his family, friends, mother, and of course many children, “I love C**K!”

As you can imagine it was like a record was scratched loud and hard.  Initially there was the jaw-dropping, eyes-wide-open, gasp followed by roars of laughter, and some congratulatory phrases and pats on the back for French Charming.  I had no idea what had happened until he told me.  I’m sure my face had turned the same red purply color as the betterave itself!

I’ve never really lived it down and it actually has become one of our favorite stories to share when I travel with French Charming for his work.  Many of his colleagues ask how we met, how it was meeting his family, how it has been learning the language.  This is when the story gets told.  One crew even created a messaging group “J’aime la bite”!

50 thoughts on “A Franglais Fail

  1. This is so funny. I have a few similar stories to yours. French is my first language and sometimes my writing does not translate well in English. Thankfully most of the times I had not yet hit the Send button. Great read.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I LOVE these stories! Hilarious!!
    Living in Belgium I speak both Dutch and French, but since we don’t speak French very often a lot of mistakes like these happen and we have a blast making fun of everyone (including ourself). The best one to date is a friend who came up to me after walking through Brussels and asking if I knew about this new retail chain she is seeing everywhere. Which retail chain I asked, well the ‘à louer’ one… à louer = for rent, she was seeing for rent sighs on houses/stores/…. We still make fun of her for that one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my lanta! I’m crying that’s so funny. Obviously they knew you didn’t mean that phrase at that moment and to that audience. I love how you can laugh with everyone. That’s what makes it the absolute best. Thanks for sharing. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

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