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The Two Solitudes



So I spent Easter among the Natives. No, not the Indians, although now I kind of understand how Samuel de Champlain felt when he came upon the Algonquins.

Mrs D's mom was visiting us last week and we packed up the car and took off for Victoriaville to visit her sister and her Aunt. Victoriaville's about 2 hours east of Montreal. It took us about four and-a-half hours to drive from Aylmer. We waved at Nicky Eff as we drove through Montreal.

Tante Poutine, formerly of Warwick, Tante Bud Light, who is no longer with us, and Tante Lucienne all hail from either Warwick or nearby Victoriaville the poutine and maple syrup capitals of the world. And it's deep in Francophone country.

You know that song Englishman in New York by Sting? Yeah? Well magnify how he felt about ten times and you start to understand how I - the lone Anglophone - got on in Francophone country.

I tell you, ply these 80+ year-old women with alcohol - and they're just so damn polite, they never say no - and I was tempted to take out my hearing aids. That's right the decibel level of their conversation seems to increase with the amount of wine consumed. Alas, if only I could find a hearing aid that not only magnified conversations but translated them too.

But I nodded politely when my name was mentioned and threw in the appropriate oui and non when I thought they were required. I got the odd strange look when I got them wrong.

Now this is all my own fault. Firstly, I studied French in Government and promptly stopped using it when I got the requisite pass levels. Secondly, I married a Francophone. Thank god she's bilingual but still there are times I look at her and wonder "What the hell did she see in me?" But I'll save that story for another time.

But, hey, I guess it's true what they say: love is blind. And in my case, deaf and unilingual.

But listening to all those hard to understand conversations Easter weekend I came to a significant discovery. I think Mrs D's family is in the witness protection program. Unfortunately for them when they get excited and have had a few they let their actual family name slip. I pretended not to notice but often I heard them call each other Voyonsdonc*. Don't tell anyone, eh?

*Voyons donc, loosely translated means "Oh, come on" or "get out of town" or "shut the front door". My mother-in-law, her sister and their Aunt say it a lot.

Comments

Cheryl said…
I feel your pain, Dufus. This reminds me of every visit with my grandparents and my dad's extended family. Every time the conversation got interesting, they'd all switch to French. Pfffft.
Nora Blithe said…
I know how you feel. My minor in college was French. I studied the language for four years in college, six total and can barely speak it. I wouldn't have followed that conversation though I MIGHT have been able to read it.
Indigo Roth said…
What did she see in you? Well, 1) You rock. 2) Punning. True story. Indigo
nonamedufus said…
Well I do make her laugh. I only hope she's laughing with me.
ReformingGeek said…
Was? Sprechen sie Deutsch? Um, sorry, you lost me a kilometer short of Montreal. I had to hitch-hike to Nicky's place and she drove me back to the airport and put me on a flight to Frankfurt. She told me they serve good hot dogs there.
nonamedufus said…
What have you got against poutine?
Linda Medrano said…
It's worse for me. Alex and his family chatting in Navajo is beyond anybody's comprehension. That's why they used them as code talkers in WW2. French and Spanish or even German are much easier for me to understand!
nonamedufus said…
Yes, but you can get away with that.
Shawn Ohara said…
I thought that was you passing by on the highway...
Living here in bilingual Montreal, I got it a little different. My wife's family is Russian. Try to follow that conversation!
nonamedufus said…
Yeah, that'd be tough but I bet all that discounted vodka must be great, eh?

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