Musings and Amusings

The French Connection


Remember that 1971 movie starring Gene Hackman?


You weren’t even born yet? Then skip the clip – I only hijacked the name of the movie for my post title!



I have my own French Connection. In fact I have two! That’s the beauty of blogging and connections.

Celine Jeanjean, a delightful French woman living in Hong Kong, recently nominated me for a Liebster Award.

Merci Beaucoup, Celine !

You can read her charming post about her own Liebster Award here.

Little did Celine know that one of her questions plays quite nicely into my French Connection.

Can you fake accents?”, she asked me.

No, but give me a romance language or two, and I can multi-mangle with the best tri-linguals!


I took six years of French classes and two years of Spanish classes. My young brain had no problem differentiating the two during high school and college. Since then, however, I have had multiple encounters with Spanish-speaking people. Without exception, I can understand what they are telling or asking me, but the only response that comes to me is French!

How is that possible? My brain receives their Spanish input, but spits back only French!

Of course this gave me a woefully false impression of my ability to converse in French, should the opportunity present itself. While we were planning our bike trip in France, our friend Lou – who masterfully bails us out of any Spanish-speaking encounter – asked me about assuming his interpretive duty in France.

No problem!”, I boasted, eagerly anticipating my chance to match his lingual prowess. “I got us covered.”



The first day we were in Paris, we entered a store where the clerk asked us a question. Hub, Lou and Coco all looked at me expectantly. I opened my mouth and … Rien, Nada, Nothing … No French, No Spanish, No English.

We all turned and sheepishly walked out of the store. My head hung in shame as Lou said, “They spoke French and she froze.”

Of course, we repeated that line daily as we laughed, drank and biked our way through France. And the reality is even when I tried my primitive French, they would immediately (and politely) switch to English.

Thus dashed my high school dream of working as an interpreter at the United Nations; my college dream of becoming an accomplished career linguist; and my Boomer dream of “parlez-vous“-ing through Paris.

Fortunately, although my French dreams are dashed, my French Connections are alive and thriving.

I met Kelli at Forty and Fantastique during the A to Z Challenge. She is fluent in French, accomplished at many skills including piloting and writing, and she is planning a “fantastique” trip to France, which was her theme during the Challenge. This “Q” post and this “On The Fringes” post are samples of her excellent writing style.

I am also grateful I met Kelli because I met Celine through Kelli’s blog on the last day of the A to Z Challenge. Celine’s “L” for Librocubicularists is a must read.

Bon Appetit!





Comments on: "The French Connection" (35)

  1. What an amusing story! You made me giggle, and I love being made to giggle and laugh.
    It’s so typical to freeze in situations you absolutely don’t want to freeze in, but rather be excellent and show off. Cause you know you basically can!!!!! 😉

    • Thank you, Ninna. I like writing amusing anecdotes the best, but of course hope my readers find them funny, too.

      It’s those kind of unexpected moments on trips that become the most memorable. I’m kind of glad to hear I’m not the only “freezer!”

      • XD Tell e about it! hehe
        Lots of times I’ve stumbled on words or gotten plain dumb, and off course felt really stupid because of it.

  2. Great post Sammy! I know how you feel about freezing in another language. I did French at school and totally froze in France on a family holiday. Horrible. Ironically, the only time I spoke French was in Italy, lol! 😉

  3. I love how you incorporated your Liebster into that post, a very fun way of doing it! Glad you got creative with it 🙂

    And that was such an amusing anecdote, what a shame that your French only comes out when you need to speak Spanish! My husband has the opposite problem, Spanish tends to come out when French is needed, haha.
    It’s so hard to remember languages when put on the spot, isn’t it? I’ve tried to learn a few works of cantonese and after 3 years I have virtually nothing, my mind goes blank every time I have to speak.

    Your bike trip around France sounds awesome by the way, where did you go?

    So glad to be one of your French connections! 🙂

    • Thank you, cher Celine!

      I wanted to answer a couple more questions but my post got too long!

      I empathize with your husband; I thought I was the only one with brain lingua confusion, but now hear there are more like me. We could all make a Princess Bride-like traveling group where whoever in the group can spout out a response in the appropriate language in whichever country we’re visiting does so! Bonus points for a PB quote in that language 🙂

      Our bike trip was in the Loire Valley – one of our top trips, for sure. I will do some posts with pictures eventually. We liked that one so much we talk about a repeat!

      • OMG, the PB travelling group sounds epic! PB quotes in foreign languages would be hilarious too. That should so be a thing! 😉

        The Loire Valley is gorgeous, I’d love to see photos of your trip there. I don’t have family in that part so I don’t know it as well as the parts where I do have family but the chateaux and wine are so beautiful!

      • Will put it on my “to write” list. It’s always fun to look at trip momentoes and photos.

  4. I wonder if I’ll ever learn French?

    When I was a teenager, I purchased a French/English pocket dictionary… it’s probably hidden deep in the “cubby-hole” back at my mom’s place. I’ll have to investigate that cluttered spot, which is a haven for a plethora of dust-ridden thinggies with Iittle eyes… peering up at me from down there…

    Talking about French Connection, last month a friend commented on a navy & white horizontally striped V-necked cardigan with white/red trimmings: “very chic… reminds me of French Connection” she said – and that’s my personal French Connection experience.
    Though I did visit Paris… but that was decades ago… and a topic for another time…

    I also met Celine via the A to Z Challenge. She has a delightful blog.

    • That’s a great French Connection with the sweater 🙂 I had a red beret as a teen that I loved wearing ( in my room, not in public!).

      I really hope I have stamina for one more trip to Paris. It’s a city to be experienced by walking and my joints are “worn”. I think perhaps a few nights in separate arrondisements and explore small areas then move to the next.

      Thanks for visiting and adding your Connections 🙂

  5. Merci beaucoup for the kind words, Sammy! Oh if only someday I could say I am “fluent” in French! I have a good solid intermediate level, and I *think* I’ll be able to manage to communicate in the language, but we’ll see! It’s possible I could “freeze” too when not surrounded by my kind and patient correspondents…
    Great post and great story!

    • ;-). “fluent” is a relative term!

      I don’t know about your experience your day in Paris, but we found “the natives” extremely helpful without the purported condesencion often attributed to them as a stereotype. Efficient, polite and accomodating.

  6. P.S. There’s a PB travel group??? Count me in! Let’s go storm a castle 🙂

  7. C’est très amusant, Sammy. 🙂 I used to speak French quite well also (suffering now from lack of use), and understand a fair bit of Italian. Like you, while attempting to respond in Italian, it was always French that popped into my head. LOL Your trip to France sounds like a wonderful adventure. Congratulations on the Liebster award as well. Bonne semaine!

    • Thank you, Debbie 🙂 I’m so relieved to find others are lingua-challenged! Europeans seem to so easily switch languages, but then they hear a variety of languages far more often than we do here in middle America.

  8. Hee! Thanks for the laugh, Sammy. I can’t speak French, but I’ve embarrassed myself butchering Spanish a few times. 🙂

  9. That’s kinda a weird brain thing you got going there…but hey, at least you can speak French when spoken to in Spanish. You know I’m bilingual in Swedish…but I also took four years of Spanish. IF they don’t talk too fast (and they usually do) then I can sorta pick up what the conversation is about. I can’t speak much Spanish, though. I do remember how to say, “Her jacket is red.” That ought to come in handy somewhere when I’m looking for a sidewalk cafe to have some wine and lunch…
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

    • God forbid she’s wearing a yellow jacket!

      You know, now that you mention it, I’m not aware that I’ve ever heard Ssedish spoken. You might need to do a You Tube selfie for me 🙂

  10. I love Celine! I met her through A to Z, too. Impressive that you learned two languages simultaneously. I took Spanish in high school and unfortunately can no longer speak much of it, although I’m quite fluent in my dreams, lol. I’ve had entire dreams in Spanish. Funny how that works. Your trip to France sounds divine. I would love to bike through Europe. Congrats on your award! Well deserved!

  11. My hopes for speaking French were completely and utterly dashed by my ex mother-in-law who looked at me as though I was speaking Japanese when I tried (she’s Quebecois). After that, even though I lived in Quebec and could understand most of what everyone was saying, I replied back to them in English. The ladies at the grocery store and I could have a lovely bi-lingual conversation!
    Loved your post! Don’t give up like I did!

  12. I am useless at other languages so even of you can do something it’s an improvement on me…great post x

  13. Well, I’ve never seen the French Connection, nor been to France. However, your post did make me think of something. Remember that movie “Better Off Dead”? It was mid-80s, one of John Cusack’s first films. Here’s the scene your blog reminded me of! Enjoy! 8D

    • OMG I never saw that movie!! John Cusak is ADORABLE in the ‘tube videos!! I’ll have to watch the movie while eating “Fraunch Fries”. Too funny, Thanks for yet another Fuzzy Chuckle 🙂

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