Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Francophone Boys

Tonite I had the chance to just hang out for a few hours. I chose to go to a bookstore and read. I selected one book, not a serious book, but a novel that I knew I would enjoy, I chose a seat and just gave myself over to the story for a few hours. I knew that I would not be able to complete the book in the time I had, but I’ve never really been that bothered by coming and going in the middle of stories. This is something I think I’ve cultivated watching TV. I can come in at the middle of a movie I know little or nothing about, and quickly pick up what’s going on and watch it to the end. I have more trouble, if the story is any good, leaving it in the middle, but I can do it.

The best part of the evening, though, was not the book. Near me sat 5 old guys, mostly in their late 50’s to 60’s, white haired, balding, wrinkly, fat and skinny, conversing most amiably…in French. I would guess by their ages, and their comfort with the language that these were not students just finding their way through the gallic conjugations. My guess is that they probably grew up speaking French, and this was a chance to simply get together with a bunch of other guys from the “old neighborhood” and talk like the old days. It’s not altogether uncommon around here. My mother grew up speaking French exclusively until about age 8. She can still recall the nuns in Catholic schools in Manchester teaching in French. After she moved out of Manchester (arguably the center of francophone New Hampshire) she lost her French language very quickly. Apparently, not everyone left it behind as completely as my mother.

I myself know very little French language, but know they talked a little politics (this is New Hampshire after all), a little about the movie Papillon, and just about general guy stuff – as if it was a barber shop in Montreal. It was a beautiful just to be around the spirit of their gathering. It made me want to speak French just to be half as cool as they were.

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