Thursday, July 5, 2007

Au revoire, Geneve!

This is my last evening in Geneva, and is usually the case with such things, it is kind of bittersweet. We ended it the same way we began, back in January, with a wonderful dinner in a nearly deserted restaurant a few blocks away from our apartment. I had fantasized might become our regular neighborhood hangout. (It didn't, but it's not the restaurant's fault.) It was just one guy who served as host, waiter, and chef, with an assistant who did little more than bring him plates and olive oil at appropriate moments. And he gave us some Limoncetta on the house at the end of the meal. It's one of those things that made me--almost (see yesterday's entry)--feel wistful about leaving.

So in the tradition of bookending things, my last entry from Geneva will be about my (still) terrible French. David Sedaris wrote one of his hilarious/tragic essays about living in France in a recent New Yorker ("The Man in the Hut," June 4, 2007). I was pleased to learn that although he has been living in France much longer than I've been in Geneva, his French still sucks and he avoids conversation whenever possible.

He imagines that prison, being a total immersion kind of atmosphere, would be an excellent place to learn French:

"'d have your little conversations. In the cafeteria, in the recreation room or crafts center, if they have them in a French prison, and I imagine they do. 'Tell me, Jean-Claude, do you like the glaze I've applied to my shapely jug?'
Of the above, I can say, 'Tell me, Jean-Claude, do you like the...jug?' ... In French, such things have a way of biting you in the ass. I might have to say, 'Do you like the glaze the shapely jug accepted from me?' or 'Do you like the shapely jug in the glaze of which I earlier applied?'
For safety's sake, perhaps I'd be better off breaking the one sentence into three:
'Look at the shapely jug.'
'Do you like the glaze?'
'I did that.'"

Thanks, David. Now if only I could sell an article to the New Yorker about my nitwittery.

Next entry: Champaign!

No comments: