Life Lessons gleaned from the Personals
October 27, 2009
Would you like to meet some “false friends”? These are similar words which exist in French and English I used to clamp on to when I was first learning the language. This was ill-advised and often resulted in varying levels of perplexity and mirth.
“Sensible”, now there is a word you can’t go wrong with, practical as socks and sandals. Except in French it means “sensitive” which doesn’t always equate to the same thing. “Sauvage” you would think approximates to “savage”, especially when a mother of a toddler is excusing her leg-clinging offspring from saying hello on the basis that he is a savage. Fair enough. We all have days like that. Our savage days when we would rather rip out someone’s throat than kiss them on both cheeks. Except when I say that she gives me a filthy look and stalks off, child in hand. It turns out “sauvage” means “shy”.
“Mutation” is another one that threw me. It often comes up in the classifieds advertising the urgent sale of household goods. “Everything must go! Fridge, stove, microwave, beds ‘a cause de mutation’. “ What an alarming prospect! What had these people mutated into and why did they no longer need furniture? Open any newspaper and you will see that it has reached epidemic proportions and still the government does not take action! Turns out that it means they have been transferred with work.
The richest seams are to be found in the personals. When I am waiting for a child to finish an activity, a bank teller to finish eating her lunch, a postal worker to stop flirting with his colleague, I read the personals in the free newspaper for our region.
“Man of 60, ‘correct’ physical condition, alive, is looking for a serious companion of indifferent origin”. This begs the question about what a constitutes a correct physical condition if this gentleman feels obliged to draw attention to one of his good points; the fact that he is still breathing. And “indifferent origin”, does that mean he is indifferent or that potential applicants need not apply if they feel strongly about their roots?
Note to self: if one of my most attractive qualities is that I am not yet a corpse I need to “see someone” and not someone I’ve met through the personals.
“Man, 64, “grande” (not grand but tall), mince (thin not effeminate), libre (terminally single not free, or free every Saturday night),seule (lonely) come as you are (?), smokers welcome (because he smokes like a chimney) looking for a life in a couple for a balanced relationship”. Balanced as in “balancing act” or as in the opposite of “imbalanced”? Moral of this story: this is truly sad. This man needs to give up smoking. Smoking is making him into a social pariah. He may as well have put “Smoker seeks person to smoke with. Anyone”. Poor guy. Bet he regrets that first puff behind the bicycle sheds. How cool does he look now? I should confer with his mother. Perhaps he could sue?
Lesson to be drawn from this one: never take up smoking – it will force you to lower your standards.
“Man, 54, sincere, serieux, fun-loving (hang on a minute, doesn’t one cancel out the other?). No. Another false friend. Serieuse doesn’t mean “serious”. Seriously. This means he can be counted on, we are talking about a reliable man here. He likes a party but he is reliable. He also likes to hang out in a camper van, has blue eyes and wants whoever he ends up to be totally independent (financially). Mmmm. Perhaps with a garden where he can park said van? She also needs to be young, good looking and “gaie”. Yes, he is a man looking for a gay female companion but rinse your brain out, he wants her to be jolly and good-humoured. Not that kind of gay. Beware English speakers settling in France.
“Octogenarian man seeks woman (max. 77 years old) near Frejus or St. Raphael, just to rupture my solitude”. This one breaks your heart. In any language.