I’m on a roll

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I’m on a roll – I just wrote 898 more words, and another chapter – so, if you are behind, check out today’s previous entry!

Ch. 20 – More Hijinks

“A rooster says ‘Good Morning’ with a ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo…’”

As I stood in line with Roger and the other guys for my meal at the restaurant universitaire, Roger suddenly burst into song. “Good Morning!” he added with a twinkle in his eye, and continued in his beautiful baritone voice, serenading the cafeteria workers:

“A horse’s neigh is just his way of saying ‘How are you?’

A lion growls “Hello” and owls ask ‘Why?’ and ‘Where?’ and ‘Who?’”

The cafeteria workers smiled – How charming this good-looking young American man was! He paused dramatically at the question words – sounding for all the world like a performer on a children’s television show. But, then came the hook:

“May I suggest you get undressed… and show them your wazoo! Oooooh –“

Say what? He continued with all of the focus of a Broadway performer, warming to his subject:

“The animals, the animals: let’s talk dirty to the animals!

‘Fuck you, Mister Bunny! Eat Shit, Mister Bear!’

If they don’t love it, they can shove it

Frankly, I don’t care – Oh!”

The cafeteria workers continued to smile indulgently, enjoying the performance and apparently not comprehending a word he was saying.

“The animals, the animals: let’s talk dirty to the animals!

‘Up yours, Mister Hippo! Piss off, Mister Fox!’

Go tell a chicken ‘Suck my dick’ and give him chicken pox…

I looked nervously around, admiring Roger’s courage. French students were beginning to stare. Robert and Chuck were beginning to snicker. And he wasn’t done yet!

“Ohhhhhh! The animals, the animals!

Let’s talk dirty to the animals!

From birds in the treetops to snakes in the grass

But…”

Big finish time! Roger crowed gaily:

Never tell an alligator ‘Bite my…’ (pause, backwards step) – No!

Never tell an alligator ‘Bite my…’ (pause, kick-ball change ) – Yes!

Never tell an alligator ‘Bite my… snatch!’”

The cafeteria erupted into applause. The Americans hooted with laughter. I followed my obnoxious countrymen to our table.

This was typical of the behavior of my fellow CODOFIL students. We attended class obediently, but we lived to be out of class together. We loved to hang out and commiserate on how the rudeness of the French, and to complain about the lack of Mexican food available (we were having taco withdrawal!) – oh, and the French version of Chinese food sucked! Chuck made an observation about the French and what he called their “sidewalk domination.” He observed that, if he was walking down the sidewalk, and a group of (or even an individual) French people were coming toward him, that he would almost be forced off of the sidewalk. The French rarely gave way. We tested this theory time and again – we called it “sidewalk chicken.” I usually let the French win – after all, it was their country!

I was a woefully careless student – doing homework at the last minute, or not at all! I had a system of keeping one answer ahead of the professor in my classes – that usually worked. I was also lucky that I knew how to use cognates. There are many English words that just need a little bit of adjustment to be turned into French words. When asked to invent a sentence with a new word, I would just make an English word sound French, and hope for the best. I was just getting by – I thought. We could not make heads or tails of the French grading system!

We sat in class next to other Americans and behaved like little kids. We wrote notes to each other, and copied each other’s work. I also read letters and wrote responses to my family at home. I remember panicking before my translation class one day, before I got up the nerve to timidly ask Roger if he had done his homework. This was before the performance described above, and I was still a tad intimidated – he was, after all, a former monk! He immediately presented his work, and encouraged me to copy it! We loved our teachers, but we just were bored – we were really in Angers (France!) to have a good time! Our group had no permanent chaperone, nor the strict rules and guidelines set down as for the group from Notre Dame.

As far as our French neighbors were concerned, we did not become friends. As I said before, Elaine and I shared a shower with the suite on my side of our suite. I made an attempt to be friendly to our neighbors. The first week they arrived, one of our neighbors emerged from their side of the shower to ask if she could close our bathroom door while she took a shower. I immediately said, “Hi, my name is Claudine!” and held out my hand in introduction.

She stared at my hand and then reluctantly shook it in silence. I pursued, “What is your name?” (I was speaking French, of course!), and she offered it begrudgingly. She then turned around and headed back through the shower. Shrugging my shoulders, I closed the door. From then on, the only time those girls spoke to us was to ask to close the door for their (weekly…) shower. Oh, and to ask us to keep it down because they were studying – particularly on the weekends.

But that is a story for later. Let’s just say that we were not friendly.

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