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Faux pas

Faux pas

This is me pretending to be European, back during our trip to Switzerland in June. The highlights of which were chocolate (duh) and practicing my very rusty French.

I studied abroad in France in college. I’d taken 4 years of language classes before going, and when the plane touched down I couldn’t wait to don my beret and begin dazzling people with my conversation skills. 

My first thought when I got off the plane was, “Holy sh*t, they let me off in the wrong country.” 

I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying to me.

As it turns out, real French people talk a lot faster than Pierre and Marie from my textbooks did. They also discussed more complicated topics than going to the library or purchasing a nice fish for dinner.

Despite my initial setback, I was determined to master the language. My first step was to make some French friends.

I was delighted when one of the French girls I befriended invited me to spend the weekend at her parents’ house in the country. The house was beautiful and her family was warm and welcoming. 

What’s more, I was doing pretty well with my French--until breakfast with her extended family on the second day.

The spread was beautiful--farm fresh eggs, cafe au lait, and croissants warm from the oven. I was seated next to my friend’s hard-of-hearing grandmother. Tearing off a piece of bread, I pointed to the jam next to her plate.

“Passez-moi le préservatif, s’il vous plaît,” I said with my best French accent.

“Quoi?” she shouted, cupping her hand around her ear.


The whole table went silent. As it turns out, the word “préservatif” does not mean jam in French.

It means condom. 

I had just asked her 80-year-old grandmother to pass me the condom. 

I wanted to die of embarrassment, but luckily, she thought it was so funny she could hardly breathe--and then for a moment I worried she might be the one to die.

There is no point to this story, I just thought you all might need a mid-week laugh at my expense.

Happy Wednesday!

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