I was standing there in KFC, having just ordered meals for my family. The guy working behind the counter told me the total and I reached for my bank card. Seeing my Kentucky Driver’s License, I pulled it out and showed it to him. “‘I’m from Kentucky,” I said, “so it should be free for me.” I said it with a smile, but he didn’t laugh. I looked to the young girl he was training and said “I’m just kidding,” but it was too late. He had already called for his manager who walked up and listened as the story of this man from Kentucky was retold. “Does he get free food?” I heard asked while I shook my head no. Thankfully the manager looked up and saw me and let out a laugh. I paid and went on...
I’m still trying to figure out how to make the French laugh. With my fellow Americans it’s easy. With my old Tanzanian pals all I had to do was say “come to my house and let’s eat tacos” and I was guaranteed raucous laughter (tako, same pronunciation, in swahili, means butt). But here in France, it’s taking some work. These people like comic books. And wear black. And drink wine and eat cheese. I did watch a french movie recently that was funny, but it’s not something that one can replicate interpersonally. Oh well. I’ll keep trying.
At camp this summer when I introduced myself I often said (in french), “I really don’t speak French, in fact the only word I know in French is hello, so you can tell me hi in French.” That barely even got me a smile. Just a look like, ‘you idiot, you’re talking in French right now... bad French, but that’s French.’
I did once succeed in generating laughter. Two nights ago, JJ and I went out on a date. We went to a movie but were late arriving. The movie had begun and the lights were low. I'd never been in this particular theater before. But none of that stopped me from plodding ahead, only to discover stairs I hadn't anticipated. I fell and rolled down them, ending up laying on my side hugging the back of a cinema chair. Then my eyes adjusted and I discovered it wasn't that dark. An entire row was laughing quite heartily at my expense. But I wasn't trying that time!