The market on Sundays is St. Antonin is the only thing anyone can really rely on being open with any regularity, what with 1,200 years of dependability, and a collective work ethic inconsistent with the attitude I’ve come to love of “it’s too rainy to go to work today,” and “it’s too nice out to go to work today.”
They live to live here, and I can tell when I run into my server at another bar during his shift, the bus driver in an art store mid work week, and the jeweler by the riverside with a cocktail, that French priorities I’ve encountered are foremost to do that which you want, and with a shared acceptance of the same within others, complain rarely and relax often.
They speak with integrity and understanding. Their truths at times so brutal that I wince at their utterance, but to no reaction except my own. Socially, it seems, their tolerance for dialogue we might label rude, are simple exchanges within a culture more accustomed to honesty, and I’m learning to appreciate their lenience without recklessly abandoning my own morals.
Picking up on words others will gargle at me until I’ve spit out an entire phrase to their enunciated liking, I’ve started to notice the nuances of the French tongue that my American mouth seems simply unfit to assert. There’s a guttural response with some words, a feeling of the back of my tongue sliding forwards across the roof of my mouth in others, and a pursing of my lips that feels more like I’m motioning for a cigarette than saying anything at all. I’m not.
Most of my conversations end in snapping fingers, slapping knees, or stomping feet as we laugh at the realization that we could have said twice as much in half as many words. Such is the lesson I’ve come to be unfailingly aware of in regards to the English language – that we talk a lot, but say so little.