Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It is not an exageration to say that English was not the only language spoken in my house growing up. My mother, native to Belarus, spoke Russian with my grandmother as well as German with other relatives. Both my parents spoke French and did business in France. We even had a French au pair of sorts named Fon Fon (a diminutive form of Francoise) who would watch my two brothers and I.

That said, I've always identified with the French language. With a name like Pauline Madoule Millard, it's kind of crime not to speak the language. I started learning French in an after school program in fifth grade and followed it straight through college. I even took the French AP exam and did quite well on it, thanks to a teacher named Nola who was a stickler for grammer.

Outside of school, and France, it can be hard to find other people who speak French. Luckily in New York there is the Alliance Francaise. I recently joined and spent this past evening at a mixer, sipping a sweet Beaujolais and babbling in French. It's easy to babble en fracais after a few glasses of wine.

What I learned: I am a lot better at French than I realized and that there are a lot of people who love to speak French, even if they don't have to. (English was allowed at the party, but no one used it.) In a few weeks there is a Bordeaux tasting, and you know I'll be there. Should I be concerned that good wine is my motivating factor to leave the house?