Last night, my computer warned me that I had 11% battery power remaining. “I’m running out of juice,” I said to Callaghan, who was lying next to me reading a Jack Reacher novel.
“Are you getting tired, Baby?”
“No, well maybe a little, but I mean my computer needs to be charged.”
“Oh I thought it was YOUR juice that was running low!”
“No! No! I didn’t mean it like that. I meant it in a way, like, your juice, you know?”
“Even more….” I couldn’t stop giggling. You had to be there.
Fair enough. But that’s beside the point.
The point – I mean, the thing this calls to mind – is that verbal exchanges like this exemplify why I don’t want to speak just French with him. It would be boring, and “boring” is not allowed. The “B” word goes against our marriage contract.
Callaghan lived in the States for a decade spanning his 20’s to 30’s; he thinks like an American, and he enjoys speaking American English. Since the nuances, tones, innuendos and linguistic flavors (along with expressions and slang) are what endow a language with its personality, and since the personality of our relationship is American, the character of our verbal communication would change if we were to speak only French with each other. The components of the French language’s personality don’t translate to American English, and vice versa. Even though Callaghan and I often have a good laugh over his English mistakes, our relationship wouldn’t really be us in French, no matter how fluent I get. That’s where the threat of boring would come in.
To put it simply: It would be tiresome trying to keep the joy of our conversations afloat without the American English dips and waves and tides that define our rapport.
While we see nothing wrong with conducting our relationship in English, it slows my progress in improving my French, which I, of course, should do. After all, I live here in France. The last thing I need is border patrol running after my ass to throw me out because I want to “press 2 for English” on the phone.
The crux of the matter is that we live in the wilderness in virtual isolation.
For Callaghan, living with me in isolation is like living in the States again.
For me, living with him in isolation makes me forget that I’m in France.
And for both of us, excursions out serve as reminders that I need to be more immersed in society (in order for French to come more naturally to me).
Thus, I’m happy to have the opportunity to take a French course, which the government will provide for free. Yes! Eight hours a day, three days a week, for three months, I’ll sit in a classroom with other foreigners, learning French with a teacher whose mission in life is to bring French-as-a-second-language people up to speed so we can get jobs. (Callaghan says this is a part of the government’s “secret plot to turn us into slaves like the rest of the French population.” But that’s neither here nor there.)
The more I think about it, the more pleased I am… I’m actually ecstatic and impatiently waiting for the letter that will tell me where and when to go.
Meanwhile, I’ll attend my Orientation to Life in France, where I’m assuming they’ll teach me the proper way to do a champagne toast. Can you believe it? I’ve been in this country for over a year, and they’re just now setting me up with French and champagne toasting lessons! Hey – maybe they’ll also teach me skills such as entering a French roundabout without getting killed! Gee Willikers, Batman!