1.13.2012

french boys blush too.


I was thinking about France today, and how I was so far away from the teenagers who liked the same things as me. They listened to the same music, read the same books, and lounged at my favorite coffee shop. We were worlds away just by virtue of not speaking the same language. 

I met a French boy one day last summer. It was raining hard outside, (as it did for most of the summer- my kind of weather) and my umbrella, much less my shoes, weren’t protecting me very well. My mother and I darted inside a shop, partly to wait out the rain, partly because we were lost, and partly because it looked like our type of store. There were eclectic mixes of furniture, pillows, Eiffel Tower figurines, and Beatles posters. I didn’t want to walk away without buying anything (and the French boy at the register? Even my mother agreed that he was cute). I browsed the Beatles paraphernalia, sure that I would find something there. I ended up with a mug. It’s squat and round, the type of shape that comes across as a square. I have a healthy sense of irony- the Union Jack emblazoned on the mug that I bought in France attests to that. Sometimes I buy things or do things purely because of the story, and as far as souvenirs go, the only one that tops that is the camel bone ring that I stole off the top of a mountain in the Middle East. 

In line at the register in front of me was an older French woman. She had one of the carts typical to that part of Europe, basically a large canvas shopping bag on wheels, with a convenient handle. She was buying a tall, wooden giraffe, half the height of me and nearly as tall as her. The French boy, acting as the gentleman that he was, walked around the front of the counter to help her load it up. As she began to walk out the door, she turned back to him, saying something in French while she gestured to me. His cheeks lit up and he ducked his head. 

It’s an odd to be an American girl in Europe. It’s not so bad in England, where all the boys speak the same language, with the addition of a delicious accent. Half the teenagers there are hipsters, in the way that’s only possible in a rundown city in England. I fell in love with them, the way they wore their slouchy cardigans and fat scarves- and did you know that curse words sound better in a British accent? 

It’s different in France. The smattering of words that I knew did nothing for me in regular circumstances. Faced with an attractive, blushing French boy, the best I could do was duck my head and hand him the mug. 

He scanned it, asking me a question. I shrugged my shoulders, croaking out one of the phrases I’d perfected over the course of the summer: I’m sorry, je ne parle pas francais. He grinned. Was that relief that flashed across his face? His halting English was, if possible, even more beautiful than the lilting accents of the British boys that I loved. “I’m sorry, my English is not very good.” 

“Not at all, it’s fine. Much better than my French.” I smiled up at him. Was I flirting? Is that even flirting, such a short conversation with a foreign boy? 

“I wanted to know if this is a gift, if I should wrap it.” 

“Oh no, don’t worry about it.” 

He smiled again, this time directly towards me. 

I wish I was the kind of girl who could lean forward and ask him quietly what the woman had said that made him so embarrassed- and so relieved when I couldn’t understand her. Flirting is hard enough when the boy is obviously interested and actually speaks the same language. Substitute that with a hopelessly awkward girl and a French boy with barely any English, and you get the kind of story that ends when the girl walks out of the shop.

edit: this is a true story. his name is max. 

44 comments:

  1. how lovely!! this is such a beautiful story. seriously. i love it all. :))
    -jocee <3

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  2. this is perfection right here. it makes me want to travel! I'm becoming jealous of your many escapades around the world! :)

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  3. What a wonderful story. <3 Really makes me want to concentrate on my French more, haha! :p

    - Victoria
    (http://raindropsandmoonlight.blogspot.com)

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  4. when you get married to a european boy, let me know. I think I need to shoot your wedding. :)

    in all seriousness this was a wonderful story. makes me want to go to europe. :)

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  5. so, so cute. this is precious.

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  6. Can I please go to France right now?? So jealouuuus seriously! ;)

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  7. Awweee! I want a French boy! :)

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  8. Aweh! this is so sweet! I wish I was there so I could tell you what he said! Man I'd love to know ;)

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  9. This is adorable. It made me smile. :) Love love love.

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  10. i...want....any...european...boy. this is so cool because i *never* see any posts around the blogosphere about raw teenage girl feelings. good for you! it was so entertaining. :)
    emma

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  11. Awww, i need a boy like that, American guys are ewww..

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  12. Blah, I want a cute story like that. When I went to France last year, all I saw were tourists. I want to meet some real French people. :)

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  13. I've read this three times and it got better each time. We need to go to France sometime, yes?

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  14. This is so wonderful. It makes me sad, it makes me wish you asked him, it makes me wish he stopped you. Ahh. Maybe...maybe you'll run into him again. :) I think you will.

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  15. This story of your European adventure with the blushing French boy made me smile. Sweet! I'd love to travel to France and experience the culture, the language, the places, the people...practically everything.

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  16. Okay, this is adorable. The quirky little adventure stories are one of my favorite things about traveling. Love.

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  17. Oh my gosh, I love this story! It doesn't even sound like real life.

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  18. Oh man! Oh Katie, your so great at writing and it is so great to read something like this!

    I definitely want to go there. Definitely.

    xx, Annie Rose.

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  19. It's crazy that you mention this. When I was in Spain, the same thing happened! - yes, with a boy. ...It was, in short, funny yet lovely.

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  20. Replies
    1. I have no idea. Are you sure I didn't tell you about it?

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  21. This is the cutest story! It sounds like something from a movie. :)

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  22. this is such a cute story! i feel like i would find it in a book are movie of some sort. :)

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  23. Oh man can i say jealous??? I love boys with accents!!! Im convinced im going to marry one! It least im hoping!!! Soooo cute!!! I have a sudden erg to go to Europe :)

    In Christ
    Hosanna

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  24. geez. this is the most adorable thing I've heard in my life.

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  25. This was so cute! I loved it -- especially because this is so definitely what would've happened to me in that situation. I'm shy, not forward...and top that off with a language barrier? The story would've ended there.
    But it's sweet all the same. :)


    --Liz B

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  26. AWW!!! So Cute!! Boys with accents are cuter!!! I have a friend from South Africa and I LOVE his accent!!! Part Dutch and something else.... I forgot!

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  27. Happily, I didn't have to beat him up!

    love, Dad

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  28. What great writing! That was a pleasure to read, it was. Thank you, Katie.

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  29. Aww, this is awesome! Why doesn't it ever happen to me? It would be really cool to know what he said. Seriously, this sounds like a movie. So cute and sweet, and it makes me sigh...

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  30. LOL,so cuuuuuute! hahaha i love this story and about the same thing happened to me, but with an american boy. He was too sweet! And he had bright blue eyes that i fell in love with....too bad I had to go back to the UK... :(

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