Just when I think I’ve made great strides in integrating and learning a new language, all that, there are those little moments that remind me – I’m an alien around here.
Yes, we’re all flesh and blood etc but so are we also decades of cultural references, shared experience, goddamn TV shows.
This hit me again last night – we were sitting around having dinner with a group of friends, some French, some English, me the only American.
Someone had made a cake for dessert and brought along a can of whipped cream and the can was making its way around the table, with everyone taking a turn anointing their cake. Some people did very basic squirting, some hearts and flourishes, and as everyone expressed themselves with the can we were each scrutinized by the rest of the table and judged and applauded for our creative efforts.
“It’s like a Soul Train line, only with desserts,” I said, thinking back fondly to the parties of yore when eventually things would disintegrate to the point where two rows would form and anyone on the dance floor would have to strut their stuff for a few seconds.
“Quoi?” I realized no one at the table had any idea what I was talking about. Not that it mattered, but all of a sudden I was trying desperately to explain, in fractured French, about how once there was this TV show, and there was dancing, oh and this guy Don Cornelius, and they’d form these lines either side, and you’d have to dance down the middle, and…and…
By now most of the table had moved on to something else. Eric stayed with me supportively and Emmanuel seemed to catch on to the very slight joke I’d made way back what felt like two months before.
And I suddenly felt very tired.