Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fight or Flight...Parisian Style


After Teena and I climbed the 387 steps to the top of Notre Dame I decided to go to mass to pray for the strength to make it up the six flights of stairs to our apartment.  Sitting through the service, that was part French and part Latin (as if one foreign language isn't confusing enough), in the grand church I felt like such a good Catholic.  Regardless of language, we stand, we sit, we stand some more; I have this down.  And then it was time for communion.  Apologies in advance for my change in religious reference here, but "Oy Vey!"

For those of you that are not Catholic, let me explain how communion works "aux Etats-Unis":

1.)  The priest(s) blesses communion and walks towards the mass attendees
2.)  The first row gets up and in an orderly manner gets communion from said priest
3.)  As the first row sits, the second row gets up and also goes for communion in an orderly manner
4.)  Repeat for all remaining rows

Let me now explain to you how communion works in Paris:

1.) The priest(s) blesses communion and walks towards the mass attendees
2.) Everyone in the church gets up and pushes towards the priest as if there might be, after 2010 years, a shortage on the body of Christ.
3.)  American girl gets so frustrated that she fights not to elbow a "cute" Parisian grandmother and wonders whether she shouldn't forego communion after wishing ill on her fellow mass attendees
4.)  American girl has communion and thanks God for not smoting her in the middle of church



I am taking a class in French.  This is not a French class, but a business class taught all in French.  I went to the first class armed with my trusty recorder and was ecstatic to find that I understood about 95% percent of what was being said in class.  Unfortunately, the 5% that I didn't understand includes the one time my professor spoke to me. 

During the 30-minute class break (which is devoted to getting coffee and smoking a cigarette by my felllow Parisian MBAers) I was typing an e-mail, in English, to my super-cute roomie Teena.  My professor mumbled something to me in French and, unable to change the language I was operating in, I just stood there.  I didn't ask him to repeat it, tell him to slow down, or tell him I couldn't understand, I just stood there; like a deer in headlights.  Incapable of making words, time passed and I just kept standing there...without saying one word.  My professor changed to English and even then I was merely a babbling idiot. 

I'm pretty sure this man thinks I'm sitting in his class completely cluesess as to what's going.  I've seriously considered going up to him sheepishly to show him my class notes, or saying hello in the coffee line in the morning, but I'm deathly afraid of another "deer in headlights" moment.  95% isn't that bad, right?  

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