Thursday, March 02, 2006

Whoa Grandpa!

It started innocently enough. I walked into this little bistro across the street from the post office for a petit dejuner (lunch). When I opened the door, this young guy, sitting with a group of his friends, said something to me in French. He received my typical French response, a smile, coupled with "Je ne parle pas Francais." He took this as an opening to speak even more French to me. I just smiled and continued to walk past the group.

I sat down by an older gentleman on the other side of the room from the young crowd, thinking I was safe. The young guy, not to be dissuaded, started yelling, in French, across the restaurant to me. I'm thinking to myself, what is it about, "I don't speak French", that he does not understand? Am I speaking Spench? Is my Texas accent more pronounced after having spent a week in Houston? I looked at the old man and said, in English, "I'm sorry. I don't understand what he is saying to me." To my surprise, the older man said, in English, "He wants your autograph." Well, I certainly did not see that coming!

Next thing I know, I’m talking to this older man. I learn that his name is Ari, he is 72 years old and that he immigrated from Germany forty years ago. Ari spoke five languages, four more than I have mastered.

As it turns out, it had been awhile since Ari had used his English. But, like the good global citizen that he was, he was not going to let a little thing like a language barrier stop him from communicating. Ari started telling me a story about a trip he went on with 2 doctors and a nurse and about a sunset (I think). I was having a hard time following him, partly because of his broken English and partly because I was distracted wondering who the young guy thought I may have been. The next thing I know, Ari grabs my arm and says, “I stick my thing in your thing and we make a life.” Talk about your attention grabbers! I’m frantically trying to remember the five languages Ari said he spoke, hoping that I knew how to say “no” in at least two of them! I threw out, “no, nein, nyet, ne” and for just for good measure, “Whoa there Grandpa!”

Just when I thought it could not get any more perverse, Ari starts shaking his head and says, “How do I say this in English? Yes, I know. I stick my thing in the camera and make a life.” At this point, I’m kicking myself for not sitting next to the autograph seeker.

Well, as it turns out, Ari is not the dirty old man that I had taken him for. As best as I can tell, he was trying to say that one of the doctors on the trip said he took pictures as if he made love to the camera. At least this is what I took away from the conversation.

Ari then opened his backpack, or murse - short for man-purse, took out a photo, turned it over, signed it and then gave it to me.

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What, am I Gary Glitter or something?

Elton John

12:50 AM  
Blogger aaronandcarol said...

Cindy, I suggest you grant all autograph're a lawyer and would recognize any documents you shouldn't sign. You can even charge euros.


7:16 PM  

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