I just had one of those discussions where after I was driving away I thought, “Oh god. Did I just really say that?!”
Granted, this is not a new experience for me. Us uber-talkers tend to run north to south and back again with the mouth on any given day. Our discussion map doesn’t really follow any set line or pattern. We go where the vibe leads us and that’s exactly what I just did with a 17-year old French teenager.
A month or so ago I agreed to meet weekly with Cool-French-Kid to help him practice his English speaking skills. In the beginning we were pretty diligent about picking a movie or an article out of Newsweek to discuss, but lately our talk sessions have started to resemble gossip fests and I think I’m the one to blame.
I always start out by asking Cool-French-Kid how his week at school went down. He tells me all about his classes, tests and what his friends back in France are up to and how much he misses them.
He’s starting to prepare to enter the French university system, which I still cannot get my head around, and he has tons of practice exams and other regular exams that he has to study for in addition to completing his normal course load.
On many Saturdays he and his entire class have to be at the school at 8 a.m. to take 3+ hour practice exams in such subjects as Economics or English. When I first heard about this, I said quite simply, “Man. That totally sucks,” which caused him to laugh.
I actually make him laugh quite a bit which I hope is a good thing and a sign that he’s getting more confident and comfortable in his English speaking abilities. It could just be that he finds me to be totally obnoxious and ridiculous, but it wouldn’t matter. I take it in stride.
Cool-French-Kid has the most awesome hair and this is one of his elements of coolness. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s some sort of funked-out bit of fabulousness that I’m extremely jealous about. Lots of the teenage boys on the island sport this style of supposed randomness.
Today, for some reason the topic went from parties in Mauritius to clubs in Mauritius to what the kids are drinking at parties in Mauritius to vodka to Bill Cosby to Jello-shots. The entire stream of conversation was primarily controlled by cool-French-kid up until the bit about Bill and the Jell-o.
Of course he had no clue when I asked him if he knew who Bill Cosby was. Why the hell would a 17 year old cool-kid teenager from France with awesome hair know or care who Bill Cosby was?
But, boy was he interested in the Jell-o shots. I should have stopped. I should have said something like drinking will kill you and destroy your life. But seriously, he’s French, smart and just too cool. I wasn’t going to try to back-paddle up my jell-o-ee creek.
Out came the laptop and we spent the rest of our time checking out the flavors of Jell-o on their website and searching for Jell-o shot recipes.
I think I passed on an important bit of American culture to Cool-French-Kid. He now knows all about Bill, pudding pops and Jell-o that wiggles. The word ‘Wiggles’ was a new vocabulary addition to him as was the word ‘gelatinous’. So, thank you very much proper teacher people. I, too, can introduce new vocabulary into day-to-day conversations.
He’s going to try to locate this mysterious Jell-o when he heads back to France for his winter holidays, but I have also now been tasked with bringing him back some boxes after I return from Minnesota from my own ‘winter in the Northern hemisphere’ break.
I told him I would do it, but only if he promised me that he wouldn’t try to make the shots before he turned 18 in July. 18 years old is the legal drinking age in France.
Again, more laughing. Hey, hey, hey.