One of the most charming things about France is their language. I speak none of it. Well, take that back. I came knowing bonjour, bonsoir, merci, and thanks to The Little Mermaid, la poisson. I now know how to ask for the check as well. I’m a slow learner.
We are staying at a hotel with only two English channels, one dedicated to sex and the other to violence. I prefer spending offering my own subtitles to French TV. I enjoy listening to the graceful, lilting phrases and find myself far more entertaining with my own interpretations.
Yet, despite the obvious language barriers, we thrive, we find our way around eventually, we order food, we enjoy Paris. We discovered the universal language of a smile speaks volumes. These lovely people stop and help and smile back. Countless ordinary people on their way to buy food or pick up dry cleaning took time to give us directions and part as friends. A delightful wait staff proved ever helpful. Of course, I gave away a lot of Posh as thank yous. They always smiled back.
I wonder how different our world would be if we started over at Babel, none of us speaking the same language, reduced to smiles as tokens of good will. Smiles seem a more valued commodity these days, and yet they also represent the cheapest way to communicate. We need toothy grins and genuine smiles. Every day. I plan to try communicating more that way when I get home. If I pretend not to understand you and simply smile, it may be I’m hard of hearing…but it may not!