Monday, July 9, 2012

From the Archives: Faux Frenchie

(This story is made up of previously—published excerpts from a trip to SE Asia in spring 2010)

We were in Hoi An, Vietnamfamous for its tailors. As Kady and I were discussing what we might like to have sewn, a woman approached the restaurant that we ate most of our meals at as it was about fifteen steps from our hotel. I looked at her and decided, based on her her teeth, frail frame, and the way she wore her scarf, that she was French. As Kady drew her into a conversation like she does with every single stranger we encounter, her accent, though a little muddled, seeeemed to confirm my diagnosis of French-ness. She told us the story of getting thrown in Cambodian prison and having to surrender her passport and how an American passport goes for around $10,000.

"You have an American passport?" Kady asked. 

"Yes, I'm from Minnesota."

But... WE'RE from Minnesota Kady and I thought in unison...

"Oh... uhm... where is your accent from?" Kady asked.

"I don't know. I think maybe from France."

"Oh... is that where you live now?"

"I have no home. I am a nomad."
(You're all reading zees een a dreeping-ly frahnch accent, yes?)

Kady's admiration for her pants led to a tedious conversation about how she designed them... but the tailors got them all wrong... then she threw a fit til they were right... bla bla bla. We also learned a little too much about how she gets around/around (yes that's exactly what I mean), her detestation of all things American, and her general means/style of travel/life:

"I get off zee bus and I go up to someone and I say, 'are you from a vee-lage?' and zen I ask if I can leev wees zem and zey take me to zair veel-age..."

This is actually interesting. But she managed to ruin it with her weird murky accent and dripping superiority. 

She had knocked on our door earlier that day asking if we were headed to Hanoi. We were. I cursed Kady's magnetic personality. FauxFrenchie complained about the price of the bus ticket "here" and went off to find cheaper tickets "elsewhere." She succeeded and three were purchased.
She was unpleasant and condescending to say the least, but she offered Kady and me some of the most memorable quotes of our trip so.

Her laptop had been stolen in Cambodia. On it was a novel she had written. It is gone forever.

At this, she merely shrugs.

Kady: "I'm so sorry your laptop was stolen! That's so awful."
FF: "Zey are just theengs... You cannot be so attached... eet eez zee way when you leev your life free..."

Kady: "Was your book about your trip?"
FF: "Eets not a trip; eets my life"

Kady: "So are you permanently retired or will you have to go back to work some day?"
FF: "Everyday I am working. My life eez my job."

I diagnosed her as the least likeable trustafarian I'd ever met and quite possibly a prostitute. Every comment was snarky and supercilious (I know I knowinsert eye-roll). I never once indulged her by expressing any interest in her or her way of life. Kady on the other hand couldn't help herself. Then as FF's responses grew shorter and more disdainful, Kady reeeeally couldn't help herself and began baiting her by saying really stupid crap just to illicit a condescending remark.

Kady: "Have you noticed [stupid and not very interesting observation about Vietnam]?"
FF: [snide and patronizing non-response with as few words as humanly possible]

When we arrived at Hanoi, after a particularly awful overnight bus ride where I had to cling to my bus "bed" for dear life so as not to fall the five and a half feet off of my bunk into the aisle where several Vietnamese men slept on the floor AND my face decided to punish me by inexplicably looking like this:

I offered this as a summary of the evening: "Worst. Night. Ever."
FF: "Zen you've add a pritty goood life..."

That was the final straw. Kady and I didn't even need a powwow. We were moving on to the next city.

She was offended at our change of plans and parasitically attached herself to Daniel, the nice boy from Oregon I had smiled at knowingly after he expressed confusion at her announcement about being from Minnesota ("Oh... I thought I detected an accent...").

He looked longingly and pitifully at Kady and me as we said goodbye, but we couldn't help him. He'd have to find his own way (out).


Your comments are why I get out of bed in the morning. Just kidding. But I do like them.