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Garfield, 5/11/05

OK, this is going to take a minute, so stay with me.

Two years ago, the future Mrs. C. and I took our very first vacation together, to the UK and Spain. Since she has Panamanian relatives, and has spent time in Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico, she was in charge of hablaing the Español, and, despite her self-deprecating statements in advance of the trip, acquitted herself admirably in all the situations where Spanish was required.

The next year, we went to Garfield le Film-mad Paris. Since I had taken eight years of French in grammar and high school, passed a test in graduate school establishing my competence in the language, and previously voyaged to both Paris and Montreal, I was understandably given the mandate to parlez our vous while in the City of Light. It only took about 24 hours before the first incident arose indicating that this decision may have been a mistake. Our first morning there, we were at a little flea market, and were going to eat at a food stand there. They were selling something called a galette. We could tell from the posted menu that a galette contained tasty items such as eggs, tomatoes, and cheese; but what was it? TFMC told me to go find out. I realized in horror that this was a big difference between us: when confronted with such a foreign term, my instinct was to slink off in shame and have a Kit Kat bar for lunch, but she wanted me to, you know, ask. Unwilling to lose face in front of my woman, I walked up to the Frenchies behind the counter and asked:

“Excusez-moi, quand est un galette?”

The francophonic among you, of course, know that what I asked was, “Excuse me, when is a galette?” The proprietors of the little food cart, naturally, looked at me as if I were retarded. I thought of that little moment when I read today’s Garfield. I have to imagine that Jon, in yet another desperate, flop-sweat-soaked attempt to impress, took his date to a French restaurant that is so fancy that either (a) its staff refuses to speak English, or (b) it’s actually in France. Because otherwise this strip makes NO GODDAMN SENSE AT ALL.

Oh, and: after a humiliating retreat to a park bench where I consulted my phrase book, I came back with the correct version of my question, and they still gave me that baffled “I know those words, but they don’t make sense in that order” look. I suppose if you walked into Burger King and asked “What is this so-called ‘burger’ I’ve heard so much about, and how’d you get to be ‘king’ of it?” you wouldn’t do much better. After some deeply embarrassing hijinks, we eventually just ordered the damn thing. Word to the wise: it’s a savory crepe, and it’s pretty yummy.