I would say, based on this trip, that the biggest problem facing Europe today is that everything over there is hard to pronounce. Even the word “France” is pronounced as a different word entirely (“Fwonce”). But basically the mood of Europe is good, except when you order your food incorrectly, in which case Europe can get snippy.
My family and I experienced this personally at a cafe in Paris called Le Mistral (French for “The Snotty Attitude”), where we offended the waiter by committing the unforgivable blunder of existing.
To make matters worse, when the waiter, after ignoring us for 15 minutes, reluctantly came to our table, I made the horrific faux pas (literally, “hors d’oeuvre”) of attempting to order my food before I ordered my drink, if you can possibly imagine anything so gauche (French for “American”).
The waiter was so offended that — I am not making this up — he tore up his order slip, spun around and walked away in what the French call “une huffe.” So we went to another cafe, where the waiter was very nice, and where we wrote, in what we hoped was French, a letter of complaint to the Le Mistral management.
After our meal, we marched back into Le Mistral, where I handed the letter to the manager, who read it and handed it to the snotty waiter, who also read it. The three of us then had an argument.
Unfortunately, we conducted it in French, which I have not studied since the 1960s. If you translated this argument into English, it would probably go something like:
Manager: What is the problem?
Me (pointing at the waiter): There is a duck in your elevator.
Waiter: I do not know what you are talking about!
Me (forcefully): Give me the fish of my uncle!
After several minutes of this, we marched back out, proud of having made our point. Meanwhile, back in Le Mistral, they probably laughed until tears fell into the bouillabaisse, and vowed to be even ruder to American tourists, in hopes of generating more linguistic comedy entertainment.
LOL. August 18, 2008