Monday, July 21, 2008

The Long Awaited Rendez-Vous

My parents are here!

This weekend saw us staying with FP's parents, and when I say 'us' I mean my parents, the cat, FP and me. It was the very first time that my parents had met Mr and Mrs FP and I think everyone involved was rather anxious over how the initial meeting might go. All in all, it didn't go as badly as I had been expecting.

The thing is, with FP's parents not speaking a word of English and my dad not speaking a word of French (apart from 'pour mon petit dejeuner j'ai mangé un croissant et confiture', that is.) it was just kind of expected that there would be a ton of awkward silences and that FP and I would be jumping from French to English in order to translate everything that was being said. Can I just say let us all thank bejeezus for my mum and her French ability. Without her I think there would be a lot of sign langauging. If that's even a word.

So there we were; Mr and Mrs FP, Mr and Mrs Ecossais, FP, me and the cat on a leash (don't laugh!), sitting outside on the terrace and I realised something. There is a universal language, and that language is called 'alcohol'.

I looked around the table, at my mum blabbering away in French with Mrs FP, at FP squeezing the cat into his leash and telling him what a 'good, beautiful boy' he is, and at my dad and Mr FP, talking away, nodding, laughing together as if they were old friends. My dad was speaking in English, Mr FP in French, and somehow, as if they were both brilliantly bilingual, they seemed to be having a conversation. And not just any old conversation, but a really boring, intelligent conversation about - of all things - steam engines! Why do men seem to bond over the most boring topics? They were both fascinated by what the other had to say, nodding and making the 'oohs' and 'aaahs' at all the right pauses, their faces animated, their cheeks slightly pink from the whisky. It was riveting just to watch them communicate with one another. Riveting, people, just riveting.

And did you know that if you sit two people who don't speak the same language in a room alone together, they will both speak in their own languages, crack jokes and both laugh at each other's jokes, despite the fact that they can't possibly understand why they are laughing? Believe me, I tried and tested this theory several times this weekend and the results were, well frankly, terribly amusing.

There were, of course, the odd little awkward moments when all six of us appeared to run out of words, and the metaphorical tumbleweed would bounce by and hit me on the head, forcing me to blurt out any old thing just to stop the deafening silence from driving me insane, but really I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. I mean we've all seen Meet The Faukers. I'm just relieved that no one came across as a Fauker this weekend.

So, the parents have met now and no one can deny that they got on well together. I am exhausted after all the translation and the masses of rich, good French food, but most of all I am elated. After all, it's important that the two sets of parents get on well together because maybe - just maybe - one day these two families will merge into one.

Here's hoping...


T.D. Newton said...

That is awesome that they got on so well. You never know, with parents.

And this is exactly why we refer to alcohol as "social lubrication" and "truth serem" and many other entertaining nicknames.

pierre l said...

Perhaps French steam engine speak contains lots of English. I am always amused by the number of English words in find in French car magazines.
An eventual family merger sounds good.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

@TD haha! I've never heard of those nicknames for alcohol, that's class! Social lubrication eh? I really must try to use this phrase next time a suitable moment presents itself! Still, very, very true indeed.

@Pierre, you know that's a thought...perhaps there are lots of English words in the very topical steam engine speak, it would explain things, but I still maintain that it had a whole lot to do with the alcohol!

joy suzanne said...

Oh my gosh, it would be such a scream if my parents and Philippe's were ever to meet. His parents: retired Director of L'Alliance Française, amateur historian, with spicy Colombian homemaker wife, bourgeoise... My parents: Long-haired Vietnam vet roaring up on a Harley, and ageing Barbie Doll hairdresser exwife. Hmm! I can only imagine they would have so much to talk about.

I'm glad it went smoothly, Princesse! Hope things are going better with that b****at work. ;)

Chouitie said...

I know exactly what you mean re parents meeting!! It was the same for us. Parents miraculously got on so well that they keep going to visit each other, even though they hardly speak a word of each other's language!

Hubby and I are now staying with the beaux-parents until we find somewhere to live in Paris, and we have great fun cooking whilst we all speak (or in their case, try to speak!) english. Works a treat for the language skills all round, and the food's not bad either!

Good luck with the family merging thing - was the best thing we ever did (and it's quite cool having a froggy surname after a boring old english one!).

Princesse Ecossaise said...

@ Joy Suzanne hahaha now that would be an interesting soiree if ever I saw one! It would also make a fantastic blog post I'm sure! Don't suppose there's any chance you might set them all up for a meeting just for the fun of it? ;-)

@ chouitie ahhhh that's so good that the parents get on so well despite the language barrier. gestures and facial expressions play a big part in these kind of relationships, have you noticed? I certainly did!

Lis of the North said...

Salut Princesse. So glad to hear that this first important franco-Scottish summit meeting went so well. I can remember the nerves before the meeting of parents when Hubby and I were still freshly in love. I assume meeting of parents is a scary time for any couple, but when you add in language and cultural differences it gets even scarier. But it certainly gets easier. Sort of!!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Ah Lis, just the woman to know exactly how odd this whole situation is! The whole franco-scottish thing may be slightly odd and squirmy awkward due to 'les blancs' but in the end it's all worth it, eh!