Thursday, December 2, 2010

Par Lay View Frawn Say?

     Oui, oui, oui, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
     Today was the last day of classes for the fall term, and, ooh-la-la, our gal survived French!!!   It has been très stressant à la maison the past few months as Sissey has undertaken the challenge of mastering a foreign-foreign language. Geology rocked, psychology analyzed, computer science computed, but French was just plain foreign. And I don't mean that in a good way.
     Why she decided to tackle French, I'm still not quite sure, other than the fact that she wanted to be different from her twin brother, who happens to be fluent in Spanish. Contrary to the advice of her academic advisor, who suggested Spanish (which only has two accents and is a language she may actually use one day), she insisted on signing up for French 109. 
     J'adore le français. The food is delicious. The fashions are impeccable. The wine is superb. You can't beat a day in Paris wandering through the Louvre or strolling along the Champs d'Elysee. No one can turn mere bread and cheese into a gourmet meal quite like the French. Perhaps Sissey was dreaming of haute couture and the cafes of Paris when she signed on, perhaps she was envisioning starry nights drifting down the Seine, I don't really know. But I do know that she sure wasn't thinking about accents and verb conjugation, gender and number agreement, past, present and future tenses.  When it comes to their language, it's not all wine and roses.
         We're talking about a language that uses a million different accents. Accents that shift and turn in numerous directions over various letters with no apparent rhyme or reason. A language that uses thirty-seven letters to spell one word-- and then only pronounces three of those letters when the word is spoken.  A language that makes a distinction between gender and number in a world that has become gender-neutral and could care less about  little details like number-agreement. It has been, to say the least, a challenge.  But everyone needs a good challenge in college, or so I've been told, and after French 109,  I think Sissey's good for life.
   Thankfully, mid-way into the semester, behold! an angel called "Too-tour" appeared. The French "Too-tour" was patient and kind,  she had great knowledge, and she took our gal under her angel wings and poured French into her soul. Day after day, Too-tour worked with Sissey, breathing the foreign sounds into her soul and heart and mind. Before long, a miracle occurred. Our gal opened her mouth and hark! foreign sounds appeared. She was PAR-LAY-VIEW FRAWN-SAYING!!  And more than that, she was still alive! Elle n'est past morte! Contrary to her insistence, she did not die. Nope, she didn't even come close! Merci, Too-tour, merci beaucoup!
       She passed her oral interview on Tuesday without throwing up, fainting or dying. She didn't even need the Depends I had on reserve.  Our gal  is now  "par lay view frawn-saying" like a true native. Well, at least like a native from some foreign planet. The requirements for matriculation only indicated she needed three semesters of a foreign language, and believe me, we have been speaking some kind of foreign language around here. I'm not always sure what planet it's from, not always sure if it can even be translated into any language, but we are just not too particular around here anymore. If it sounds like French, it must be French, and we're going with that. C'est bonne, c'est bonne, c'est bonne, n'est-ce pas?!?!
    Now, we are officially three-eighths of the way through our HomeBound College project. Sissey will finish up all of her exams by Thursday, then we'll head to Richmond for a quick Christmas Break. In January, it's back to the grindstone, with only five more semesters to complete before she can flip that tassel and fly away into the unknown future.
      From my perspective, five semesters seems like a milli-second, a gasp, but for Sissey, it seems incomprehensible that the day will finally arrive when she can clutch that sheepskin firmly in her french-manicured little hands, prance across that stage in a très à la mode cap and gown, and with a certain joie de vivre, flip that tassel and jump into life. 
      Today,we're simply  breathing a sigh of relief that the semester is over, fini. One French class down. Two more to go, and then, happily, joyfully, gleefully, we'll bid Au revoir to French classes. When the exit exam is finished, when the orals are over and all the verbs have been conjugated to perfection, when the tenses past, present and future are properly aligned and all the numbers and genders agree--when that day arrives, we're going to pack our little travel bags, hop on a big silver plane, grab a glass of the very best French champagne, and with a toast and a smile, experience the fun part of  French as we shout  Bonjour Paris! Nous sommes ici!!
     Ahhh, until that day, I bid you Au revoir!

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