Time for another language lesson update!
I debated for ages whether to share this story, but since I promised you the good, the bad, and the horribly awkward, I feel like I can’t hold back on the embarrassing stories front.
Anyway, I was at discussion group shortly after my trip to Switzerland with friends Beth and Will, and because it had been two weeks since I’d last attended, Laurine asked me to recount what I’d been up to. I was feeling uncharacteristically chatty that day (will I never learn?), so I launched into a long description of our trip to Montreux and Lac Léman. I explained that I went with a close friend who was visiting from the United States and that, because she was celebrating her birthday here, we planned an extra-special trip. We spent a couple nights in Switzerland. We strolled along a flower-lined path, toured an ancient castle, then boarded a boat just before sunset for a scenic ride across the lake. We capped off her birthday evening with a fondue dinner.
Because I’m not great with verb conjugations, I never bothered to mention that my friend was visiting with her husband (sorry, Will). Or, come to think of it, that my own husband was there, too (sorry, Colin). It was just easier to talk about elle than ils.
I was also very intentional about using the platonic form of the word “friend.” According to the dictionary, a female friend can be either un amie or une copine, but I remembered that an American friend had mentioned to me that amie has romantic connotations. Knowing that, I confidently shared the story of the castle-sunset-fondue birthday celebration I planned for my copine.
I think we can all see where this is going, non?
After I finally finished the whole long story, Laurine smiled and asked me if I meant un amie because une copine is – you guessed it – a girlfriend. SHE KNEW I WAS USING THE WRONG WORD THE WHOLE TIME AND DIDN’T STOP ME.
(France is very LGBTQ-friendly, but since I wear a wedding ring, Laurine must have assumed I was either (1) using the wrong vocabulary, or (2) chit-chatting about cheating on my spouse.)
I was embarrassed, but in retrospect, I also finally understood why one classmate kept talking about living with his copine. He didn’t have a roommate. He had a girlfriend.
Pro-tip: Never trust American friends to know French slang.