the french disconnection



my boyfriend was an irish canadian, true and true, funny, and smart, and creative, and happy – a footloose and friendly graduate student and just what i needed at the time. i’d just been divorced, and we’d met in the states, he was my roommate’s cousin, here for a family visit. we’d planned to all go to an american baseball game together, but it was rained out, so he and i sat up all night, watching old movies, talking and laughing. he was kind of a cross between david letterman and tom hanks, with a bad boy streak, and i fell in love with him immediately. the first time i went to visit him in his hometown of ottawa, i was both a bit nervous and excited to see him. on our first day there, he took me to the beautiful town of hull, in quebec. 



we rented a car and drove to a little neighborhood bar in the middle of town. once there, we were celebrating my visit with a few adult beverages and having a great time, and i began to spread my cheer around a bit and chat up the locals. having taken french in school for a number of years, it somehow all came back quickly, and i became amazingly more ‘fluent’ in direct correlation to the number of drinks i had. (l’alcohol math de francais theory)


i talked to everyone around me and soon was engaged in deep conversation with a local motorcycle rider.



we were having a ball, people were very friendly, and i was sure they could understand my french clearly.  at some point, i even felt comfortable enough to take the motorcycle guy’s sunglasses off of his head and wear them myself, after asking him in french if it was okay. he responded to me in french with words that i had not heard in all my classes, and after my boyfriend spoke a bit of french back to him, i gave him back his glasses. we all smiled and said our goodbyes, and we decided it was probably a good time to head home.


we got into our car and as soon as we had driven 100 feet, we made a quick stop.



we were suddenly surrounded by a huge pack of police.



we were told to get out of the car with our hands up, and i wondered just what he was into that i hadn’t known about. i began to imagine all sorts of scenarios, he was really an international drug dealer, a gun runner, a smuggler, a spy?, and i told them i didn’t understand, as i did not speak a word of french.


once out of the car, they told me to put my shoes back on, as i was now barefoot for some reason, and ordered us to open the trunk and step back. i imagined there would be some contraband, a body – god knows what. i looked at him and wondered just who i had really become involved with. after a thorough search, and a questioning of each of us, they determined that we were not criminals after all, and explained that they’d had been staking us out for the last 2 hours while we were at the bar celebrating and speaking french, and that we had rented the exact make and model and color of a car that had been recently involved in a local armed robbery. they apologized profusely for the inconvenience and advised us to drive carefully. 



i said goodbye to the police and we got back in our car to head out and talk about what an eventful day it had been. i took my shoes off once again and then we laughed until we cried all of the way back to his house. in english, i told him that i had believed he was a clever felon for just a bit, and in french, we told each other that we loved one another. as long as we dated, it never failed to be an adventure. right up until the day we said goodbye. and we remain friends. 

 I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying. Oscar Wilde


image credits: rcmp,, wikipedia,













70 responses »

  1. Great story. I always felt my dancing got better as the drinks flowed into the evening. I never had a language to fall into, but that would have been safer for those around me.


  2. it’s good to have nice memories of the past

    I had my own french disconnection many years ago when on holiday in France

    It was before I became a vegetarian

    I entered a restaurant and confidently ordered chicken and chips (in french)

    my confidence rapidly diminished when the girl asked me to repeat my order, then called over another waitress to make sure she had not misheard me

    I tried speaking louder

    they called the chef out to listen to my order

    I repeated my order

    he listened, shrugged his shoulders, then he and the giggling girls left

    a short while later was delivered to my table a plate of mashed potato and french fries

    seems that ‘poulet’ pronounced in a very strong scottish accent sounds, to french ears, remarkably like ‘purée’

    who knew, eh ? 😆


  3. Great story, Beth. You had me hanging on what you had mistakenly said in French to attract the police as you wore the motorcyclist’s sunglasses, and then off it went in another direction entirely.
    Muy bien. (My fluency level in Espanol.)


  4. Adventurous and carefree, wild and wicked, I like your story Beth and how brilliant it is that you have remained friends. I think those memories will stay with you both forever, and thank you for sharing your story with us my dear friend 🙂

    Andro xxxx


  5. Hey Beth! This was a great post!
    You have so many great readers. I wouldn’t mind a bit more feedback on my blog. It helps me so much with my fiction! 😉


  6. Oh, my! This is a delightful post! And, I rarely use the word “delightful” … its a guy thing. The pictures are awesome, but the story is stellar, far beyond the power of the images. I actually sensed a light in my soul throughout this post. This was really a gift! Thanks. T


  7. Great adventure and Im glad he remained a friend and did not turn out to be a criminal, although that would have been an interesting ending….sorry the writer in me is conjuring up all kinds of stories.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s