And so it continues, this struggle to understand and to be understood. See previous post Seeking a common language. At a relaxed and entertaining brunch this weekend, several mis-communications lead to hilarity.
Let's start with my conversation with the young Colombian woman who was in Paris to complete her master's in commercial law, which I somehow heard as martial law. Imagine her confusion as this witty conversation unfolded.
Me: What exactly does an attorney do under martial law?
Her: I don't know. Why?
Me: Well if you are doing your masters I thought you would know already.
Her: Commercial law isn't anything like martial law.
Me: No I don't imagine so.
Her: Just a very puzzled face and a quick search for someone smarter to talk to...
Next a guest who explained that her carte de sejour, her photo identification which shows she has permission to work in France, indicates that she is divorced. Unfortunately this typically gets printed on name tags as Jennifer Divorced Huntsmeyer, simply due to the placement of each respective word on the id. Nothing like a little free advertising as you are introduced to your new colleagues. Please note: the conversation below took place only in my warped little mind.
Her: Let's not waste any time. As you can see I totally screwed up my first marriage. Want to see if the next one will be any different?
Him: Er, uh, I think I see someone or no one over there I need to speak to most urgently...
And little things can be confusing. For example
Host: Would you like some more food?
French Guest: Why not? (This means yes please)
Canadian Guest: No thanks (This means please convince me to have a little more)
Indian Guest: Normally that would be finished (This also means yes please).
As the time passed, and the champagne was swilled, we became ever more brave, venturing into such topics as religion and politics. We discussed whether certain fundamentalist religions are cults, and if women really are exercising free choice in wearing dark wool over their entire bodies, and yes I mean a burka. We talked about a man with 50 wives and 300 children, and whether he speaks to them over a public address system or leaves the child rearing to someone else. Looking back I wonder at our bravery, having already destroyed the reputation of one country, one (divorced) woman, and several former dieters!