|The $1500 Karl Lagerfeld Teddy bear.|
One of my very, very, very best friends was vacationing last week on the Côte d’Azur with her husband when she witnessed a strange exchange.
She said they were walking down the street when they passed a young mother with her baby who was “probably about nine months old.” The baby dropped her stuffed toy and before her mother could retrieve it, “a grandmotherly type woman” picked it up and handed it to the child.
“Then, instead of saying something like ‘here you go’ or ‘is this your favorite toy(?), the woman looked straight into the baby’s eyes and said, ‘merci beaucoup‘.”
My friend was beyond shocked. “The child was too young to speak, what was the woman trying to do?” she asked me.
I have no idea. I’m baffled though I do see and experience a certain French zeal for correcting or “educating” others. Taxi drivers will, for example, correct my pronunciation (not much we can do about that I’m afraid). A friend of mine once remarked to me, “You do know that you never say bon appétit at table, don’t you?” And on it goes.
Actually I did know about bon appétit;My-Reason-For-Living-In-France told me decades ago. He has educated me about the infinitesimally subtle and the egregiously unacceptable in everything from the language to properly cutting cheese.
Still, I cannot help but wonder, is it really the role of a stranger to “help” educate a child or an adult?
My French will never be perfect — the complex verbs, as I’ve mentioned on other occasions, and often there is no logic to masculine and feminine nouns — however none of those “giveaway” words or phrases of “bad” French are ever part of my conversation because in the privacy of our home or in a whisper, MRFLIF helps me progress in my education.