Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

My first French confrontation

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Red-letter day this week: I had a heated discussion in French through a door on Wednesday.

Let me back up: the building next to mine has a bar on the ground floor. The person I’m subletting from had written to the mayor prior to my moving in to complain about the noise from said bar.

Honestly, I’ve lived in noisier places but the wall between us is so thin that I can hear people sneezing, so it’s a little annoying. Plus, I have Wolf Ears (as a kid I thought this was a sign that I was from Krypton) so I can also tell when they’re restocking glasses on the shelf and when people get up from their tables.

Knowing all this, the woman who runs the place chose to come over and bang on the door minutes after I finished showering. I’m pretty sure they can hear me (why wouldn’t they be able to?), so her plan was to catch me unawares and thereby gain the upper hand. She’d clearly never met someone like me.

“Who is it?” I asked.

“Can you open the door?” came the reply.

“I can’t open the door right now; who is it?”

At this point, I heard her stamp her feet a couple times like a bull (Wolf Ears!) and we were off!

Not the door in question

She started asking me all sorts of questions about who I was, who lived in the apartment and why was it again that I wouldn’t open the door. When I told her I wasn’t dressed (true) she resigned herself to speaking through the door.

The whole conversation lasted less than ten minutes and was full of awesome stuff like accusations that I had called the cops on her and that she’d been asking around so she knew there were more people in my apartment and the whole time I could tell she was getting more flustered since none of this was going the way she wanted to… and I just kept on moisturizing and responding briefly to her charges.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what a Major Moment that was for me. I talked someone down from an angry place… in French… through a door. No visual cues, no miming, no gesticulating.

As we say over here, succès!

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Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

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