“Did you ever see any celebrities??”
I am officially the novelty item of the season in L’argentière, at least among the middle schoolers. The two girls that I met at the bookstore the other day (the ones who offered me a baby cat on the spot…I wish…) recognized me as I wandered around the town with the eventual goal of buying a few groceries. I was apparently the most exciting thing they had seen all day, maybe all week, and they were dying to show me off to their friends, who didn’t believe we had met before. I was immediately peppered with questions: “Oh, you’re American?” “What are you doing here?” “Where are you living?” “Where’d you live in America?” “How old are you?” “Wow, New York? Did you ever see any celebrities?” Of course, me being me, I didn’t do too much star-gazing in the city, except for possibly theatre stars. The coolest thing that ever happened to me was when I was walking home from a late swing night one time and walked right past Tom Cruise and his daughter without even realizing it, until I saw bodyguards up ahead. So I played up the fact that I lived two blocks from his apartment. (Or what it Katie Holmes’? The real question is, do I care?) Then, one girl asked me if I had ever seen the FBI in America. I almost told her that one of my favorite TV shows involved the FBI, but decided against it. All they know of the States here comes from movies. In fact, I was gleefully informed that one of the girls had seen Cry-baby one time, which has a character named Allison in it. (This is where I pretend I know things about movies.)
This is, of course, a trial by fire. Being surrounded by French kids, aged 11-13, all having lived in the countryside their whole life, all shooting rapid-fire questions at you in French. I actually got scared, that they would make fun of me for my lack of French skills — I have prior experience with this, having been laughed at by a bilingual eight-year-old because my French sucked. Or something like that. So I tried to excuse myself, even though they were open and welcoming and obviously having fun, saying I had some groceries to buy. Instead of being dismissed, I got five offers to help with my shopping. Why not? They weren’t really offers, anyway; they were more like insistences. One of the girls actually told off a guy for speaking too quickly. These are good kids. Really good kids.
And the two girls still want to give me a cat.