I knew it was going to happen sometime. Public humiliation. My French remains a vast wasteland dotted with the occasional noun, verb and adjective. To make matters worse I finally met with my French teacher here in the village only to find out that her daughter has just given birth in Sweden and my lessons will have to wait until the end of the month. Honestly, the nerve of some people! How can this baby, who probably already speaks perfect Swedish, take priority over me?
Anyway, today I had the lovely experience of needing to go to the pharmacy to get something desperately needed for a ‘lady’ problem. I had 2 options. One, take Neil the translator with me and have him regale the pharmacist with my feminine woes or two, go it alone. I chose the latter as having my husband in on this debacle seemed far more terrifying than the former. I believe the success of any marriage depends on judicious disclosure.
So off I went. Of course it happened to be about 2 o’clock and the pharmacy was packed after the 2 hour closure for lunch. I was wandering around, longing for the old days at Shopper’s Drug Mart, picked up some badly needed Neutrogena Foot Cream to stall the whole process when I heard the sing song call, “Bonjour Madame”.
There she is, sweet as tarte tartin, waiting to help me. I started with what I thought was much improved French however I suddenly realized that I did not know any of the words I needed. Now there’s no way I was using my usual trick of gestures, pointing to the nether regions and such. She can’t understand me so she calls out for the pharmacist to come over.
Now you have to realize that this is at a counter in the middle of the store with a large line of people behind me, staring at the giant foreigner in their midst. I knew we were finally getting somewhere on the translation front when it appeared that a light bulb switched on in her head.
“Ah, vaginale, vaginale!” she exclaimed loudly, smiling, obviously quite proud of herself for finally understanding me. You could have heard a pin drop in Siberia.
Oh. My. Holy. God.
Well, how wonderful. At least now EVERYONE in Semur knows why I’m here. Absolute perfection. Exactly how I imagined being introduced to the villagers.
But you can’t keep a good girl down. I regrouped and quickly started talking about how expensive my items were, trying to capitalize on my knowledge that the French don’t exactly love to part with money. You could hear the villagers murmuring their agreement. I hoped that nobody noticed that my face was as red as a tomato and likely hot enough to fry an egg on.
I’m a doctor for god’s sake I thought. Get a handle on yourself. Probably everyone was more disgusted by the crevice filling heel cream than anything else that I was on about.
On a positive note, I did manage to walk into a French pharmacy and walk out with what I needed so I have to pat myself on the back for that. I can guarantee you one thing, next time I’ll be prepared. I’ll just send Neil, I think the marriage can take it.