notes from the road

Chilling with friends and false friends

I went to a work mates party on Friday and had a real blast – actually speaking French with people socially, hooray! The funniest part of the night was when I was talking to a chap who is an engineer at an Aluminium smelter in the French Alps where he lives. He isn’t too passionate about his job but he loves para-gliding.  He told me that he dreams of going to Manilla. No not the Manilla that’s the capital of the Philippines,  the Manilla that is 50 km from my family’s farm, is home to 2000 residents and was recently found to be poorest town in all of Australia.  It also happens to be the para-glyding capitol of Australia but still, it’s a funny world.

Funnier still was the following night when I went to my work mate’s, wife’s, brother’s place for another get together. Here I made an A-grade faux ami, or false friend. These are words which are are the same in English and French, but have different meanings. A good example is when an Aussie friend of mine told her new pals that she was ‘trés trés excité’ for the New Years Eve celebrations. Turns out that ‘excité’ doesn’t mean ‘excited’ but ‘horny’.

Well, mine last night almost rivals that one. We were talking about French bread and people were showering it with complements, so I piped up and said something about how in Australia we use more preservatives and that no one ever talks about how good they are. Before I could say how I appreciate bread that stays fresh for longer than the first 30 seconds after you buy it I was cut off by laughter. The sort of laughter that lets you know you have made a critical error. Yup, ‘preservatif’ is the French word for ‘condom’.  The word I was looking for was ‘conservation’.

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