I hope that the title of this blog is close to right. I don’t speak French. I have been to Paris though.
It was February of 1997. Mr. Mouse and I were visiting a non-English speaking country for the first time. We were nervous. We had heard many stories about Parisians and how mean they were to tourists in general and Americans in particular. We were excited to see Paris, but weren’t quite sure how we were going to function. We learned merci and s’il vous plait and hoped for the best.
Paris in February was cold,grey, and rainy. It was not quite the lovely ideal we were expected. Fortunately for us, they keep most of the art inside. The people also broke our expectations. They were delightful. They were friendly and helpful. I think we amused them with our attempts to understand French but everyone we met was impressed with our mercis.
We had a woman stop on her way to work to help us get un-lost in the underground. The ladies who ran the bakery by our hotel were very funny and happy to recommend things for us to try. The waitress at our hotel was determined she could teach us more French words and was so pleased when we remembered the words from the previous day. The custodian at the airport walked us to our gate so we wouldn’t get lost. We saw many wonderful things and went to many wonderful places, but it is the people that I remember.
When I see the news out of Paris I wonder about those people who we met. Are they safe? Did they lose loved ones? I am positive that they do not remember us the way I remember them. But they shaped our story of Paris and I have always remembered them fondly. How many people’s stories have been changed or ended by the actions of these hateful few? And how do we, an ocean away, step forward to help those who have done nothing to deserve this attack?