Help In French

french

We were ten miles from Paris and a few more miles to our destination, Versailles, when I had to pee. Sounds rather un-glamorous for that part of the world, after all I was going to see the Hall of Mirrors and the gorgeous statues, amid centuries old, very well-tended gardens where Marie Antoinette danced the minuet before meeting the guillotine. I also had to check my hair and freshen up, while dad filled our giant car with gas. After finishing my business in the tiny, one-person stall, I realized I was locked in and couldn’t get out. “Help!” I yelled at the top of my sixteen-year-old lungs. “Help!” I yelled again to people who didn’t speak English. Crap. Or was it ‘merde’?

How do you say ‘help’ in French? I had no idea and I could tell no one was coming to rescue me any time soon. This was so embarrassing, I thought, kicking the door and slamming my fist against the wall. I shook the filthy little outhouse style structure screaming the only words I knew, “Merci-beaucoup, sil-vous plait,” until finally, maybe ten minutes later–the short-haired, cantankerous proprietor came up with some keys. Scolding me in French like a bad child who wet her knickers, I wondered about her obvious lack of customer service while I listened to her ramble on, pointing to the lock and apparently trying to explain how it worked. My souvenir silk scarf tightened around my slender neck like a noose, reminding me to get the heck out of there. Shrugging, I probably rolled my eyes and copped an attitude. I remember her hair looking messed up in an I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-style, which seemed to be pretty popular back then, a cigarette in one hand and a disgusted look on her face when she spit the word, “American,” which sounded like a-mar-ee-ca-ugh-n.

Calling me an American made me swallow my fear. That’s right lady, and don’t you forget it. Slipping past her, my teenage sensibilities made me think of the important things—like the fact that I had a date with opulence at the Palais du Versailles–how’s my lip-gloss? Très chic, huh? My father’s horn filled the late spring sky and I ran from the woman towards the car. “Oui,” I yelled back trying not to cry. Next semester I signed up for French, but I still don’t know how to say, “Help.”

(photo courtesy of jannoon028/Freedigitalphotos.net)

Eve Gaal About Eve Gaal

Eve Gaal says her main goal is to make you smile. If you actually laugh, she’s absolutely thrilled. Find more of her writing in Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel, Not Your Mother’s Book on Dogs, Epiphany Magazine and in various online journals and anthologies. When not writing stories, poems or working on the sequel to Penniless Hearts her novel set in Hawaii, she’s usually chasing her two Chihuahua’s around the backyard.

Eve Gaal About Eve Gaal

Eve Gaal says her main goal is to make you smile. If you actually laugh, she’s absolutely thrilled. Find more of her writing in Not Your Mother’s Book on Travel, Not Your Mother’s Book on Dogs, Epiphany Magazine and in various online journals and anthologies. When not writing stories, poems or working on the sequel to Penniless Hearts her novel set in Hawaii, she’s usually chasing her two Chihuahua’s around the backyard.

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