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The French Lesson, Part 8

by The Scholar

"So, what do we know about Paris?"

"There you go again with that 'we' stuff!"

"I only asked."

"Well, I'm not telling you anything. You'll have to do what the rest of us do and learn something."

"I already did and I'm one step ahead of you all."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that when we get back tonight you'll all be pouring over your diaries and I'll be on the beach."

"Oh, yeah? And what makes you so special?"

"I already did mine."

"Your diary?"


"How come? I mean, w e haven't even been to Paris, yet."

"I did it last night, when they said we were going to Paris and having a free day."

"What did you write?"

"You fishing for ideas?"

"No, I'm just curious."

"I wrote about the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, some museums and some other places of historic interest."

"Such as?"

"The Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, the ChampsElysees."

"But what if we don't go to those place."

"Like, yeah, but who's gonna know?"

Simon could hardly argue against me on that one. A free day meant just that - a 'free day'. Wherever it was we were supposed to be going today it was forecast really heavy rain, so our teachers had decided to give us all a free day in Paris. Imagine that! Paris - I mean, it wasn't even on our itinerary, which had been a real surprise. I mean, who goes to France and doesn't go to Paris? It's unthinkable. As a result of the news, which had been met with whoops of delight from everyone, I had taken that opportunity to put together the diary entry I knew I would have to write when we returned. All I need to complete it were a few postcards, maybe some admission tickets, which could easily be found on the streets where they had been discarded by other people who had already visited some of these places and Robert's your father's brother, as they say."

"You know, you'll have to speak French today?"


"That's Spanish, dummy."

"Scusarmi, non capisco."


"That's Italian." I grinned.

"Jesus, Paul, don't you know any French?"


Simon shook his head.

"Anyway, why?"

"What do you mean, 'why'?"

"Why will I have to speak French today?"

"Because we won't have the teachers there to do it for us."


I hadn't thought of that.

"I knew that would freak you out." Simon grinned. He could be so evil at times.

"So, how good is your French?"

"Hey! No way am I gonna be speaking for you all day."

"Well, fine, I'll muddle through, I have an English/French phrasebook and I paid a little attention in class."

"Anyway, how come you know Spanish and Italian, but not French?"

"Dunno, guess I heard it on TV."

"What the hell do you watch on TV in Spanish and Italian?"

"The Eurovision Song Contest."

Simon shook his head again and I followed him from the dormitory and down the stairs to where our teachers and a crowd of other kids on this school trip to France had assembled, before we took our places on the coach that would take us to Paris, even managing to beat Susie Miller to the seat next to Simon.

To be honest, Simon's French was about as dismal as mine, so I knew quite well that we'd both have to muddle through with a few choice phrases. As we travelled, I consulted my English/French phrasebook, looking for some words that may come in useful.

"Bonjour, that means hello," I informed Simon. "Au revoir, that means goodbye"

"You're gonna get a long way in Paris saying hello and goodbye to everyone," laughed Simon.

I ignored him and continued to read in silence.

Paris was bright and sunny, just as the forecasters had foretold, apparently, so we all disembarked the coach and were led by our teachers to the Eiffel Tower.

"Right, now pay attention, everyone and that means you, too Carter."

Mr Hamilton, one of our French teachers, though why he singled me out, I have no idea.

"Please remember that while we have given you a free day to relax and enjoy the sights of Paris, you are still obliged to try and learn something. You will write what you have learnt tonight in your diaries. We also ask you to remember that you are visitors to this country and representatives of your school, so we expect and, indeed, are trusting that you will behave like ladies and gentlemen and not, I repeat, not, tarnish our reputation. Is that understood?"

Despite not realising that our school had a reputation in Paris, I joined in with the chorus of "Yes, sir."

"Right, then. We shall all meet here, by the Eiffel Tower, at five o'clock this afternoon. Please do notbe late. Okay, go and enjoy yourselves."

With that, the group dispersed in a number of different directions and I spotted Susie Miller and Melanie Atkinson heading towards where Simon and I stood.

"Quick, with me," yelled, grabbing Simon by the arm and dragging him off quickly to mingle with a group of our schoolmates and some other people, French and, possibly, of other nationalities.

"What's going on?"

"We're escaping!"

"Escaping what?"

"Not what - who! Susie Miller."

Simon looked around.

"Come, on," I yelled, dragging him further into the crowd.

It worked. We lost Susie Miller and Melanie Atkinson, who had disappeared from sight.

"What did we want to lose Susie for?"

"You want to spend the whole day in Paris with Susie Miller?" I asked. "And before you answer, do remember that this is a fashion capital."

"Ah, well, yeah, okay, fair enough, I guess."

"So, where are we going first?"

"I dunno, you're the one who's already been everywhere, according to your diary, so surprise me."

"Well, we could go up the Eiffel Tower," I suggested.

"Have you seen the queue?"

I hadn't, but now hat I looked it did appear to be quite long.

"Okay, maybe later. Let's just walk and see where we end up."

We hadn't gone too far before I started feeling hungry and an ice cream vendor seemed to offer the perfect solution.

"How about an ice cream?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Okay, you go get them, I'll pay."

"Me? Oh, I see, means speaking French!"

"I can ask for them, I'm not stupid."

"Okay, you ask. I want chocolate flavour."

We walked to the ice cream vendor and Simon stood back slightly, leaving me to approach the seller. He just grinned, as I turned to look at him.

"Bonjour, monsieur, deux glace au chocolat, s'il vous plait."

The vendor smiled at me and promptly set about completing my order. I paid him and smiled back, as he handed me two chocolate ice creams.

"Merci, monsieur."

I walked back to Simon and handed him one of he ice creams.

"Very impressive," he said. "You get that from your phrasebook?"

"Mostly," I replied.

"Looks like you're my interpreter for the day then," he grinned and turned quickly as a voice spoke to him.


A boy of about our age stood next to Simon. Dark-haired, dark eyes and very tanned and gorgeous.

"Bonjour," Simon smiled, one of his polite smiles.

"Comment ça va?"

"Bien, merci."

"Excusez-moi. Je juste ai dû dire à vous - vous êtes beau."

Simon looked at the French boy, a blank expression on his face and he turned to me.

"What did he say?" he half whispered.

"Just say, thanks," I offered.

"But what did he say?"

"Just say thanks."

Simon looked at me. "You sure?"

I nodded and Simon turned to the French boy: "Merci."

The French boy smiled. "Vous êtes bienvenu."

Simon smiled and turned again to me, questioningly.

"He said you're welcome."

"Yeah, but what did I just thank him for?"

"You don't wanna know."

"Yes I bloody do!"

"He said something about you being beautiful."

Simon turned his attention to the French boy, but before he could say anything, the French boy continued.

"Pour moi c'est amour à la première vue. Vous avez de beaux yeux, belles lèvres, je devez vous embrasser."

And with that, the French boy planted a stonking great kiss on Simon's lips and then grinned at him. Simon stood completely stunned - and so did I; and not a little jealous.

"Je t'adore," he said and then, before we knew what was happening, he turned and ran off down the street, waving madly and calling, "Au revoir, mon beau garçon."

"What the hell just happened?" asked Simon, watching the French boy running down the street.

"He just called you his beautiful boy."

"What? What the hell just happened?"

"I'm not sure." It was the best I could do.

"Well, you were there! You heard him jabbering away in French and then he kissed me. I don't even know what he said and I've just been kissed by some mad Frenchman."

"As far as I could make out he was saying something about love at first sight, that you had beautiful eyes and beautiful lips and just having to kiss you."

Simon just stared at me.

"Do I get one then?"

"Get what?"

"One of those ice creams you're holding. I must say I was very impressed that you ordered in French."


"Paul, are you okay?"

"Yeah - who was that boy?"

"I dunno, someone who wanted to know the time. Now do I get one of those ice creams, or not?"

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