Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Rougette Rant

That's a little misleading.  I'm not going to rant about rougette.  I mean, just look how cute this old-seed French lettuce is!  Who could rant about that?  

I am going to rant about what almost came between me and my rougette.  

You see, I wasn't planning on having any rougette at all.  I was making my way toward some macarons (Georges Larnicol, if you must know) when I saw the market near Hotel de Ville.  Never one to miss a market, I had to stop.  I made a couple of loops, surveying and planning what to make my lunch.  I opted for some fresh (and filleted!) sardines, a lemon, a piece of fourme d'ambert cheese, and… some rougette.  I am quite in love with the lettuce over here, so when I saw these bi-color cuties, I couldn't pass them up.  

There was a queue at the stand with the rougette, so I went to the end of the line.  Just then a lady some feet back from what seemed to be the end of the line proclaimed, "J'attend!" (I am waiting) and in a huff moved herself and her empty rolly cart to the proper end of the line.  Startled by her, I let out a prompt "Pardon!" as has come to be my second nature when bumped or surprised or unable to understand something or in just about any circumstance, really.  

In my mind, you can't go wrong with "Pardon."  I probably say it too often, as I go klutzing around this city.  I don't notice many people saying "Pardon" when they run into me, come to think of it, but I always throw out a "Pardon" in passing if I even brush against someone.  Why not?  It's an easy save.  

Except for this old French biddy.  She was talking under her breath as she assumed her rightful place and then she couldn't WAIT to tell the lady in front of her how I said "Pardon" and not "Excusez-moi" when I had taken her place in line.  (You know what lady?  If you are over 4 feet from the end of the line, it is fair to assume you aren't in it!)  And to say "Pardon" after my action, to not even give her a proper "Excusez-moi!"  Unbelievable!  She was going on about me to the woman in front of her, shaking her head and showing her disdain in her body language, like I wasn't even there.  Or like I was there, but I was some kind of line-cutting étranger ogre.  

I felt myself getting hot.  I felt shaky.  I wanted both to cry and knock this lady's block off simultaneously.  I wanted to leave the line, leave the stand, leave the rougette.  But mostly, I just wanted to say something snappy back to her.  Moments that felt like hours passed.  I decided that this bitch was not going to come between me and my lettuce, and I also decided that I wasn't going to be anybody's fool --in any language, in any country.  

So the next instant she angled her head remotely toward me, I let loose in poorly accented and rudimentary French with something to the effect of, "Merci, madame.  Maintenant je sais de dire 'Excusez-moi' le prochain fois.  J'apprends le Francais maintentent et j'essaie." Basically, what I said or was trying to say was, "Thanks, madame.  Now I know to say 'Excusez-moi' the next time.  I am learning French now and I'm trying."  That's right, I'm trying, you miserable bitch.  I'm TRYING.  

I sure took her off guard with that flurry.

She quipped back that I know enough French to understand what she was saying then!  And she asked what my native tongue was.  Well, thanks adrenaline and emotion for almost making me say "Americain"  (duh, you don't speak "American," well not really...) back to her, but I caught myself and ended up with "Anglais."  Phew.  And that was that.  She was up to order and I can't say I didn't take some joy in hearing her ask for beets for one.  

As I pictured her choking alone on a root vegetable, I realized I was eating for one, too.  Though probably less miserably.