Past, Present, Future

by tiresomemoi

Last week we learned the Future Proche so now I can, to some extent, discuss what I’ve done, what I’m doing, and what I will do. My first week in Paris I could only speak in the present. This made for some interesting and ridiculous conversations.

Before moving on to the Future we first reviewed the Past. To make the review more interesting our professor had us listen to a song sung almost entirely in the Passé Composé.

Here are the more salacious lines:

J’ai 30 Ans by Philippe Katerine

J’ai trente ans aujourd’hui 8 décembre 1998 mardi

Je n’ai jamais suivi une vraie prostituée dans une chambre d’hôtel

Je ne me suis jamais laissé pousser la barbe ni déguisé en femme

Je n’ai volé d’article dans les magasins

Je n’ai jamais tué un animal pour le manger

Je n’ai jamais fait l’amour avec deux femmes à la fois

Je n’ai jamais tué personne même si j’en ai eu envie souvent

I am 30

I am thirty years old today, Tuesday December 8, 1998

I’ve never followed a real prostitute into a hotel room

I’ve never grown a beard or disguised myself as a woman

I’ve never stolen anything from a store

I’ve never killed an animal to eat

I’ve never had sex with two women at once

I’ve never killed anyone even though I’ve often wanted to

You can listen to the whole song here.

After listening to the song we went around the room with each of us reading a line from the song and then saying something we’d never done. I said I’d never seen the Nile.  The woman who translated the “I’ve never had sex with two women” line said she’d never been to a movie theatre. The lesson seemed very French to me.  When I described it to a French friend saying I thought the song was too risqué for an American classroom she shrugged at our Puritanism then said I should definitely not listen to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je T’aime,…Moi Non Plus”. Of course the first thing I did when I got home was listen to it.

Anyway, back to class. I love my French class*. The Professor is smart and droll and favors red lipstick, plunging necklines, and thigh high boots. The class is the most diverse – ethnically, culturally, age-wise, and probably otherwise – I’ve ever been in.

We are:

2 Americans. Me and Jason*. Jason was born in Korea but grew up in Upstate New York. He’s an excellent cook and his father is a member of the NRA.

2 Poles. One is a student the other is a priest. Apparently there are too many priests in Poland but not enough France.

1 Sri Lankan. She has perfect teeth and a contagious smile.

1 Afghan. He’s a journalist and loves women.

1 Iranian. He’s a photographer and loves men.

1 Chinese student. She wants to be a designer and open her own atelier in Beijing.

1 Cambodian. She has a teenage son.

1 Serb. He doesn’t do his homework, can build furniture, got a bloody nose during the lesson on the Passé Composé.

1 Albanian. She favors brown.

1 Libyan. She has dimples and is having a hard time keeping up.

1 Moroccan. Last week was her first wedding anniversary.

1 Syrian. He has two young sons and sad blue eyes.

1 Ethiopian. She has never eaten cheese (a sacrilege in this country).

1 Korean singer. She made lemon tarts for our class party and when she sang for us the Serb said her voice made him cry.

It’s hard to imagine where we will all be and what we will be doing a year from now.

*Jason gets a name because he knows about this blog. It seems wrong to name people who don’t know I’m writing about them.

**I’m taking classes at the Alliance française***

***B for access. On the minus side there are a lot of awkward, heavy doors, there’s a step down to the cafeteria (I can get down on my own but need help getting up), and the elevator is slow and not overly spacious. On the plus side there is an elevator, there are clean accessible toilettes on almost every floor, and a stepless entrance on rue de Fleurus****.

****Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas lived just down the street at number 27.