March 24, 2015

Bon Jour! Where Am I?

What's going on?
Greetings and French phrases from Quebec City! In the tradition of reporting on my embarrassment in foreign lands, Quebec seemed like the perfect spot to dust off my writing wings and peck out a new article. From our first truck stop in the province, I knew it was only a matter of time before I made some sort of fool of myself in this land of francophones.

Having never been to Quebec before, I'd heard it is very French, but how French is that? French like France, or as French as Florida is "Spanish?" I had survived months in France my first year with Hens on Ice with a little more that "bon jour," merci," and "fromage," so I hoped our neighbor to the north would be slightly kinder than the Parisian waiter who chucked my dinner plate at me and wouldn't refill my water. Ah, the city of love.

We drove into Quebec from Ottawa. I woke up from an uncomfortable nap when we pulled into a truck stop. Vision blurry and mind cloudy, I fluttered into the store to be assaulted by French: signs, pop music, and people making noises I could not compute. Did I wake up in Fance? After 10 minutes of staring at the refrigerator, I opted for some Perrier. At the register, I tested my French.

"Bon soir." I said with a smile.

"$5.73, please." 

Whew. I got off the hook, and not even a dirty look.

My first day walking through the gorgeous old city, I knew things were going too well. People were friendly and my English was accepted. After having a lovely breakfast at a cafe I wouldn't pronounce, my friends and I went to a pub. Once the wind blew us in the door, the hostess asked for our IDs, or I thought she did. She checked my three friends' IDs, so I had mine out and ready for her. As I winged it to her, she looked at me and then the ID and burst with laughter.

Grandpa and granddaughter
"Why would you show me this?!" She exclaimed between cackles. Nearly in tears, she was now hunched over, clutching her side. My beak was on the floor, speechless. She kept cackling all the way to our table across the restaurant, as if I'd just cracked the wittiest joke she'd heard, except I hadn't said a word. My beak was still on the floor as we looked at the menus. I'd just felt like a grandpa pulling out his ID when taking his grandkids to their first bar, except without any of the dignity and respect the elderly typically get (except when grandma tells off her friends at breakfast).

Just when I thought my language skills and visit to Quebec were going too well to be true, they were. But aside from feeling like a grandparent trying to be hip with the kids at one restaurant, and aside from being a refugee at the gay bar one night, Quebec City treated me well. Merci, Quebec.

I'm frozen.

Keep reading! After studying Spanish, I went to France.

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