Friday, October 11, 2013


    I love the French language, and have always dreamed of becoming fluent in it. Why? Why not? Why do we uniquely favor one thing over something else? We’re all wired differently, that’s why. We like what we like, when we like it.
     I also have a thing for Mardi Gras harlequin dolls, and bistro art deco, too.  And I happen to know I’m not the only one that likes that sort of thing. But it wasn't always that way.
     But, back to le française. Learning a second language in my formative years—a time when it’s regarded by society as the best time to embed bilingual skills—would've been weighed as a waste of time by my parents. Also, there were too many factors that conspired against me. The closest my parents had come to speaking a second language was my mother's month-long Spanish lessons, and my father’s high school French classes. (So, no growing up in a bilingual household)  Another is that we were a single income household, with my father, the Reverend, as the breadwinner. 
     However, I also suspect that it would have been difficult for me to sit still long enough to learn French at that age.  Yes, my parents were blessed with a first-child that would have them weeping with joy when their next child was the complete opposite of me. 
     A first-child is scary enough for new parents. But one that’s also been diagnosed with auditory complications due to tonsils, with the added bonus of ‘Hyperactivity and Attention issues’, (no joke—that’s how it’s written in my 1974 medical records) can be difficult-on-caffeine.
     So, much as I've loved the French language as an adult, I likely would have put it in the same category most young kids put piano lessons: Torture. Something to be endured.
     I've made an attempt in my later years to go for it; to try and learn it. I got right up to my first year in it, (nine months of college classes) before the bottom dropped out beneath me; no more moolah for school. 
     But hey, I’m only 45. I've got time.
     No, no…don’t give me that ‘How do you know you have time?’ or, ‘You’re too old.’ or ‘It’d be best if you lived where it’s spoken all the time. Otherwise you’ll never get the hang of it.’
     Geminis won’t listen to toxic bullshit. Mind you, we don’t stick our heads in the sands of denial. But if something sounds like a put-down, we shed the toxicity faster than you can say “Quoi?”
     And we learn what we learn, when we want to learn it. In other words, we can’t be pushed or ordered to do anything. So, maybe if I saw French lessons the same way kids see that dreaded piano lesson, I'd've rebelled then, too. 
     I've only absorbed in the last twenty-or-so years how auditorily-pleasing French is to my improved senses. That tagline for the film ‘Le Divorce’ says it all: ‘Everything sounds sexier in French’.
     I've learned I can’t be afraid of failure. On the other hand, difficulties in learning anything can truly suck.  What I wouldn't give to easily absorb French. And, who hasn't wished they could do the cartoonish thing of flipping open their cranium like a box-lid, and throw in a complete textbook—and dictionary—of whatever language, or topic, they've wanted to be fluent, or knowledgeable in.
     But, we humans are meant to learn the way our Higher Power intended—the hard way. If we want something bad enough, we’ll work at it.  And after nine months of college classes, I’m somewhere between a novice,  and an amateur translator of first-year French for my mom, who’ll see a French word in any book she’s reading, and assume I know what it means—completely ignoring the three-pound French/English dictionary she has next to her on the coffee table.
     Parlez-vous française?  Je parle un peu française, mais, je ne parle pas bien française.

     Sigh…I’ll get there!

1 comment:

  1. I felt the same way... until I became fluent! Travel is living, my friend.