I think most people know about those words in french which are false friends. Some you learn quickly. You cannot borrow books from a librarie in france, because it’s a bookstore. A library is a biblioteque. And then there’s all kinds of words that are english looking, french sounding and different meaning. Experience in french is not only an experience, it can also be an experiment, all science-like. And experimente in french is someone who is experienced all jimi hendrix-like, someone who has been schooled, as it were. And yes I make a lot of mistakes, but between hand gestures and a rudimentary knowlege of the words I want to say, most of the time I get by alright. Most people are very patient and help me find the words I want, thought most of the time I immediately forget them. Of course it doesn’t help that I constantly mix up the tenses and have no idea how to use futur perfect, or passe compose…I live in the present. I may have done that 10 years ago, but in french, at least for me, it’s all happening right now.
There are many words like this, anyway. Words that in english mean one thing and when I use them, that’s my intention. But in french, sometimes, it’s very very very different.
When I decided that I wanted to travel I made a concious decision to not engage is the possibility of an intimate relationship with anyone. The reason for this is that while I was planning and scheming and working and saving and researching and dreaming of foreign lands there is no doubt in my mind that the universe, with it’s not so very subtle way of confounding the best laid plans, would have surely gotten me pregnant. I know there are precautions one can take, but seriously, when it’s your time, it’s your time.
It’s like that dude who was crazy superstitious and stayed home alone from work on friday the 13th while his family went about their normal business because he was afraid he might step on a black cat and have an anvil fall on him or something. Locked all the doors and windows and in doing so, trapped a very rare bee inside the house with him, which must have upset this bee because it stung him, and coincidence of coincidences, he happened to be allergic to this very rare bee and he died. When it’s your time, it’s your time. And there is no doubt in my mind that if I allowed the possibility of romantic encounters into my everyday existence, I would be mad in love, knocked up and looking at mortgage options mere weeks before I was due to leave. Maybe not, but I was taking no chances. I was celibate. For quite a long time.
And so, it often happens here in social situations, men talk to me. Often the conversation comes around to whether or not I have a significant other. And while sometimes I say yes because it’s easier(though it doesn’t always make a difference in the ploy, merely the tactics) a lot of the time I say that I’m celibate. And instantly I’m corrected because the word is pronounced celibataire. Oh, okay, that’s cool. I am celibataire. It makes me laugh insanely when I think of how many guys I’ve told that I’m celibataire. Because it doesn’t mean not wanting to be involved, not wanting to be having sex.
It means I’m single. Available. Veery, very very different. I was wondering about the frenchmen I was encountering who were telling me they had also taken a vow of chastity…It really is quite delicious how completely naive I can be. Finally I put it together after I was talking to this guy who had told me he was celibataire and so I thought, cool, I can just hang out and be sociable without any of the hangups that go along with potentially (sometimes inadvertently) encouraging or discouraging sexual advances etc…
Nope. It’s different. Lesson learned, no harm done. And in fact, dude turned out to be super cool! And single, apparently. But yes, from now on I won’t be telling anymore people of my decision to avoid potential travel stifling activities…tho I bet that hitchhiking with a baby all slingy would be a breeze..way easier than with a dog. hmmm….wait, what? Damn you insidious biological imperative! It’s so sneaky. I said that I would remain celibate until I left Canada, but I imagine that consistent movement will make romantic and intimate relationships difficult to cultivate, which really is okay with me. Je suis celibataire et je prefere ca. Besides most of the time it’s way more fun to flirt and have wild imaginings about what could be, than to have the reality slap you in the face like a halibut in some kind of zany interpersonal fish slapping dance.
Ooh! And I was walking about the city last night looking for a particular place where they were having gypsy jazz, got totally lost and stumbled across a gypsy jazz manouche jam session. At least 8 or so musicians, all taking turns, 4 or 5 guitar players, 2 fiddlers and a guy with a flute who took a break from tearing it up Ian Anderson style next door to come and sit in with these guys! Apparently this happens every sunday! Why do I find these things the week before I leave???
I put on a hula show in the middle of the road, ate moussaka (I’ll be sure to hand in my vegetarian card because I have no idea what delicious animal had to die for my dinner), was invited to another bar in Le Marais later this week, made some new friends, went over to someone’s sister’s apartment for drinks, (and wow are they ever a delightful bunch of folks) left after the cops came because we giggle too loudly apparently and ran into aforementioned supercool single guy while dancing down the street to Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers (this either terrifies or amuses french people to no end..there is no middle ground on crazy canadian girls rockin out with a hulahoop while walking down the street singing punk songs at the top of her lungs) looking for a patisserie that wouldn’t be open for another hour. So to kill time, we wandered along the canal, bought some champagne from a guy with bottles in a duffel bag and talked the whole morning through. After 4 am, it’s technically morning, regardless if you haven’t slept. You know, now that I think on it, good things often happen in Paris on sundays for me.
And so how fortunate that my last night in Paris is a sunday. And how unfortunate that my last night in Paris is next sunday.
It’s a happysad kinda feeling.
Oh! and for 3 days now I’ve been trying to upload oodles of pictures, but flickr keeps stalling on me. So at last I have posted all the pics from the Picasso museum, though in hindsight, is it really interesting to look at pictures of pictures? I don’t know that I’m a big Picasso fan. I think he had astigmatism or something. Actually I think it was Monet(manet?) who did have astigmatism and when he finally got glasses that corrected it and saw how the world really looked, he instantly smashed his glasses because he would never be able to paint again if he could see clearly. I think I have Jo to thank for that one. It’s a good one. I do like Monet. Maybe I have astigmatism too and that’s why I’m not a Picasso fan. Call me strange but I find Picasso too austere, I totally know how wierd that sounds, but the more I wandered and looked at the pictures, the more I felt it. I was expecting that it would feel freeing, unbound by rule of perspective or vision or whatever. But it almost felt locked in somehow. I don’t know how to explain, so whateva.
bise bise cheries…
Ok, as an afterthought I actually looked up the word celibate.
1. Abstaining from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows.
2. Unmarried; unwed.
, from caelebs, caelib-
Usage Note: Historically, celibate means only “unmarried”; its use to mean “abstaining from sexual intercourse” is a 20th-century development. But the new sense of the word seems to have displaced the old, and the use of celibate to mean “unmarried” is now almost sure to invite misinterpretation (mainly by canadian girls of the slightly insane variety) in other than narrowly ecclesiastical contexts. Sixty-eight percent of the Usage Panel rejected the older use in the sentence He remained celibate [unmarried], although he engaged in sexual intercourse.
This is waaaaay funnier than my je suis tres excitee mishap.