Tuesday, June 30, 2009

VOCABULARY TEST...

It was very late on a Wednesday night in Paris.
Elisabeth had taken me along to a gorgeous party and I was walking home feeling a little elegantly wasted. Glad of the walk, but not sure of the area, I tensed up as I saw a couple of dodgy looking geezers approach. Here we go, they're going to ask me the time first, then start hassling me. They closed in and one of them said;

"Vous etes ravissante mademoiselle."

Apparently in some quarters this would be considered disrespectful. Perhaps the people in those quarters have never had someone say, "Oi, oi," (difficult to translate) or "I'davesummathat", or my favourite; "Oi, smile love, might never happen." Why would anyone ever respond to that last one with anything other than an icy glare.

I'm under no illusions; I'm quite sure that the last thing I looked at that moment was ravissante, more to the point I am clearly borderline past the point of being addressed as mademoiselle (perhaps in the dark). If this is the worst I can expect from lecherous blokes on late night boulevards, then I'm fairly impressed with their vocabulary. What, no making that strange call that sounds like you're trying to attract a squirrel, or the delightful "Bella Figa" I know so well from Italy?

In any case, I moved swiftly on, obviously; marveling at the quaintness of the phrase and dreading my return to London.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! Once I received a "votre attitude féminine est fort agréable" while walking on the Croisette in Cannes. The guy was not attractive at all, but I still remember the phrase. At least they do make an effort, bless them.
xxx
Mia

Anonymous said...

edge of my seat...edge!!!

"bella figa" heheheh..i always wanted to say in return:"bruto katzo"...

erica said...

all i ever got in italy was, 'ciao bella' from the corner cafe. i think they reserved 'bella figa' for the blonde americans!

those french guys, though, pretty classy.

Lola Is Beauty said...

"votre attitude féminine est fort agréable"

now THAT is good.

Anonymous said...

well how did you react?!!! ;)))

Lola Is Beauty said...

who me, or Mia? Well I kept walking, but smirked to myself when they couldn't see me. I imagine Mia did something similar if I know her!

erica: spend enough time in Italy and you'll get bella figa'd for sure by some gross streetsweeper or someone! But yes, maybe blue eyes and fair skin make one more of a target.

Bombay Beauty said...

That's impressive late at night. The most annoying one here in NYC is when taxi and truck drivers honk at you -- what do they think -- that you're a fish in a fish tank (come to think of it....)

BB

Stephanie said...

This is bittersweet for me in a strange way- my dad is (was: he's retired now) a construction worker and definitely one of the victimizers of many a young "ravissante femme"... We actually have a newspaper clipping of him and some of his bricklaying buddies sitting on the corner on lunch hour as a pretty lady walked by. So typical! Congrats on being "ravissante", even if its from some French Street Toughs! xo

The City Sage said...

Proof that everything sounds better in French. And definitely preferable to the lewd car honks and wolf whistles that seem to be the provenance of american guys!

Francois said...

The more thinks change, the more they remain the same.... this could be a scene from Shakespeare!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I remember years ago in Spain , two elderly men eyeing a young Swedish girl in tight leather trousers . One said to the other , rather wistfully , "I'd like to polish those " . Yes , it was crude ....but it was funny !