Encore! Voulez regardez vous ma blog? (Better?)
All right, back to finish off this little reminiscence about my time spent on a poverty jet set bank holiday weekend in Paris in 1982, when I was waitressing in London at the Main Squeeze, writing songs, writing copious letters home, and truly experiencing life on my own. . .
Philippe, my generous host who put me up in Paris in his quel charmant ancient walkup pied-a-terre, threw a party the last night I was in town. He invited a handful of his Parisienne pals over, but I think we went somewhere else for drinks beforehand -- somewhere classy.
I recall liking a young woman named Carole, a vivacious, smart blond a la Lauren Bacall. For some reason I was drawn to ask to read her palm. Gamely, she offered it, and my comments came. . . and the one that stood out was: “You have a famous relative.” She looked surprised -- but not unpleased. She smiled, and we talked about other things.
Philippe overheard this exchange and spoke softly to me when she was out of earshot. “Lauren, do you know who Carole’s uncle is?”
I looked at him and shook my head. “How would I know that?”
He answered, “Francois Mitterand.” Wow. This friend of Philippe’s, Carole Mitterand, was niece of the president of France! What a wacky guess. . . I saw a star on her palm in a certain place. . . I’ve given up palmistry since, but that was an on-the-money guess!
By this time, I had been submerged (or is it immersed?) in the culture and language for four days and so, emboldened by time and altered consciousness, I spoke almost no English the rest of the night. In reality I did listen a lot more than talk, and after getting a little blotto, the weirdest thing happened: I was understanding the conversation -- in French!
When I left Paris the next day to take the ferry back from Calais, I thought, “Yeah, I could get by in a foreign country with a different language, too.” But, the next time I tried speaking French conversationally was in New Brunswick, Canada, 12 years later. . .