A pan of chicken

We’re laying in bed one morning. I stroke his back with one hand and my fingertips. I think it must feel nice. He gets goosebumps.

I try to say that in French. “Oooh–les poils du poulet.”

With my Canadian accent, it comes out: “Oohh–la poêle du poulet.”

Oh…a pan of chicken.

How romantic.


I am looking for a knight–a wooden one, preferably

Now that the nice weather is here, we are looking for a table to put on the balcony–so we can eat outside when it’s warm. And, if we have friends over, we can entertain outside. I haven’t found anything I like enough to buy. I thought in the meantime, in between time, I could just fashion one with some planks and two lightweight sawhorses or something. It would be an easy, temporary solution.

If you put a table cloth over it, who’ll know the difference?

I go into Hornbach (a European version of the Home Depot) and I wander around in the lumber section. I don’t see anything that I’m looking for so I go up to the customer service and I ask: “Je cherche ….ummm….pour les pieds. Mais, pas les pieds. Les pieds en bois pour mettre le bois au-dessus et puis la coupee.” I motion a lot with my hands.

Approximately: “I am looking for feet. But not feet. Feet for putting a board across, and then cutting it. Feet of wood.”

The guy actually understood what I was asking for. “Oh. Un chevalet.”

Glad to have found the word, I repeat, “Oui, un chevalet.”

“Oui. On les a. Juste, demande a le monsieur la bas. Il sait ou ils sont.”  “Yes. We have those. Ask that monsieur over there. He knows.”

So I go over to the monsieur who is helping another customer. I wait. He acknowledges I’m waiting and finishes with his customer. When he is ready, he says, “Bonjour, comment je peux vous aider, madame?”  (Oh. I am a madame here!!!) “Hello, how can I help you?”

“Oui. Bonjour. Je cherche un chevalier. En bois, s’il vous plait.” “I am looking for a knight. A wooden one, preferably.”

He starts laughing. “Un chevalier? En bois?”  Now, I am  confused. “Madame, je serrai votre chevalier.  Je vais vous montrer nos chevalets.”“A wooden knight? Really? Madame, I will be your knight. And I’ll show you our chevalets.”

“My mother wears underwear three months a year….

…and sometimes in September.”

I am sitting in the kitchen, chatting away rather comfortably (I think) in French to Ludo’s parents. And I see the quizzical looks on their faces. Just fleetingly, but enough that I question my choice of the word “culotte”.  I was telling them that the Yukon is quite warm in June, July, and August. And sometimes, it is warm enough in September to wear shorts.

I glance sideways at Ludo. “Les culottes?” I ask, looking for help. “You know, les pantalons coupées.”

“Ah,” he nods knowingly, “Les shorts.”

Je n’aime pas manger les preservatifs

When I was a nanny in France, I had to spend the first few weeks adjusting to the new language. My French was very, very basic when I arrived. However, I discovered that with many words, I could say them in English with a bit of a French accent–and they meant the same thing.

For any word ending in -tion, for example, just add the French accent and voila! A new word for your vocabulary. Conversation is conversation with the French accent. Conservative is conservatif. Preservation is preservation. And so on.

One day, Madame Andoka (my host family’s mother) asked me what I liked to eat so she could shop accordingly. I said that I like anything. I prefer things fresh though. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh meats and dairy. I would rather eat fresh than prefab meals. I just don’t like the chemicals and preservatives. I told her: Je n’aime pas manger les preservatifs. She looked at me with raised eyebrows and sort of smirked. Apparently I had just stated, rather matter-of-factly: “I don’t like to eat condoms.”

Another French Faux Pas

One day, my colleague (who speaks French) came by my desk to make sure my server was running correctly. He also mentioned that he wouldn’t be able to addresss the last few bugs I raised for the next software release. He doesn’t have any hardware to test software changes. In order to get any, he said, (in French), “Il faut lecher les couilles.”

I turned around and looked at him and said brightly, “Oh, I’ll do that!” Thinking that “lecher les couilles” meant kick some ass (or better, twist some balls).

His eyes popped out of his head and he said that I’d better not advertise that particular fact. I thought, oh, maybe they don’t like women kicking ass at this company.

15 minutes later, I realized what he said. OH-MY-GOD. I’m so embarrassed. I can’t talk to him for the next 20 years! Lick some balls, not kick ass! Oh, I’m so embarrassed.