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January 11, 2010

Are you French?

The first daily ask of the second era.

At 2 p.m. this afternoon I was walking from Chipotle to a friend's car, in a parking lot in the charming seaside locality of La Jolla, when I spotted a svelte, older woman with short hair. Very stylish hair. A small car. And a certain sense of flair.

My first thought: French.

"Do you think she's French?" I whispered to my friend.

"I don't know," she answered.

"Should I ask?" We'd just been talking about my goal of putting the "daily" back into Daily Asker. "Like I was saying over lunch?"


I approached the woman, said "Excuse me," opened my mouth to continue, and froze. What was I going to say? "Are you French?" That would sound a bit bizarre. Walking past her in a parking lot, seeing the back of her head and wanting to know her nationality. I didn't mind seeming weird or forward, but what if I inadvertently insulted her? Or creeped her out?

Maybe I could ask in rapid fire French, "Vous-etes francaise?" That way, if she didn't speak French she'd think I sneezed, and if she did, then what?

Think fast!!

"I think we've worked together before. On some translations? Are you French?" I asked.

"That's interesting. I do speak French, but I don't recognize you. Where do you think we met?" Interesting. An accent. A very subtle accent.

"I thought it was on a French translation, a few years back. You look familiar."

"Really? I'm not French, but I am from Europe. I think maybe it was someone else?"

I glanced at her car then I saw it: a bumper sticker, with a red cross and the name of her likely country of origin: "Suisse."

"Of course -- sorry about the confusion!"

"No problem!"

Results: After six months of sporadic asking, a helpful little refresher. Wondering what's in store for tomorrow!
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