La vie est belle !

S’il Vous Plaît, pourriez-vous m’aider? – Speakeasy #168

“When did you know you were lost? he asked.

Ah! Vous parlez anglais! Oh, ce sera beaucoup plus facile! Désolée. Mon français n’est pas très bon.  Well, we weren’t really lost. We were on the beach, the ocean was to our right, so we were going South. See? Not exactly lost. Just a little bit farther South than I thought.” She peered at the map from the rental car agency and bit her lip. “What town is this?”

Vous parlez bien le français, madame! But yes, I speak English now because I can see that you are a lost touriste. This is La Rochelle, madame.” He pointed to a place on the map. And your husband, you say he is where, exactement?” He looked around, confused.

“He’s just behind me, and he has the tire. I saw you sitting up here, so I told him I’d run ahead to see if I could ask if there is a place to get it fixed. Is there? Somewhere close, perhaps? The tire is heavy.” She sighed.

Oui, madame, it’s not too far, but it is in the town. You’ll need your shoes, madame. You do have…” He stared pointedly at her bare feet.

Oh, oui! Zut! I forgot I’d taken them off. My husband told me a hundred times that they were impractical, and they are…if one plans to walk…” she consulted the map again, “…twelve kilometers along the beach! But I didn’t plan that, obviously!” Her husband came up next to her, rolling a car tire in front of him.

Bonjour, Monsieur,” he said with a very strong American accent. He looked expectantly at his wife, who was sitting on a bench putting on her high-heeled shoes.

“Bonjour. Your wife was telling me about your troubles with the tire. I am so sorry! You know, it’s unfortunate that you are here at this time. It’s just past noon, so everything is closed until 14…o’clock. But perhaps I can help you anyway.” He looked behind him at an approaching woman, very pretty, with dark hair and sparkling brown eyes. She joined him and looked expectantly at him, glancing at the other couple. “Ah, ma chérie.  This charming American couple needs our help! Their rental car has a flat tire and they have walked from the autoroute twelve kilometers with this tire to get it fixed!”

Oh, mon dieu! You poor things. Madame, you have walked twelve kilometers in those…adorable shoes?! Pardon, madame, but I think your shoes are très chic! Did you bring them from America? Oh, désolée I get distracted. Your troubles with the tire! Marc, the garage, it won’t open until two hours. They must come with us for le déjeuner…lunch? Then we can drive them to have it fixed.”

Tu as raison, Mireille. Come, you two, we have a lunch prepared in our home, just there,” he pointed at a small house several yards away, “and we’d be pleased to invite you. Then we can help you with this tire! The car, it is safe from the road?”

“Oui, it’s safe. Oh, merci mille fois, monsieur!” She glanced at her husband and said, “Well, renting a car is always a great adventure, isn’t it, sweetie?”

He shook his head, and smiled.”Yes, my dear, you always have a way of finding a ‘great adventure’ ! Merci, monsieur, merci madame. Sorry, but that’s all the French I know. It’s her, ” he nodded at his wife, “who took the time to learn your beautiful language. Me, I’m along for the ride!” he grinned.

Marc laughed and said, “No problem, monsieur. Let me help you with that tire.” He walked over to help, and his wife beckoned to the other woman.

“Come with me, I have everything prepared. And you can tell me now more about these shoes of yours, elles sont mignonnes! My father, he makes shoes and he has a shop in town. I can show you when our husbands are at the garage. Don’t worry, Marc will speak French for your husband, and he will make sure you get this repair done quickly. It’s not what you had planned today, je crois.”

Non, madame, this is far better than what we had planned! Who could imagine that we’d meet des vrais anges in La Rochelle today! Yes, you are angels! ”

Mireille laughed and the two women walked toward the house behind their husbands.

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36 Responses to “S’il Vous Plaît, pourriez-vous m’aider? – Speakeasy #168”

    • jetgirlcos

      …or write in my own happy ending, at least! I’m not much of a fiction writer, but this prompt “spoke” to me 🙂 We’re not going to that part of France (this time!) so it ought to be ok, n’est-ce pas?

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  1. Sammy D.

    Well if THAT’s how your flat tire experiences turn out, I’m no longer feeling sorry for you 🙂

    PS Didn’t you say this time you are taking sensible shoes only?!?

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    • jetgirlcos

      Yes! Sensible shoes only! But this is my make-believe world, so I can have whatever shoes I want. Plus, who’s to say I couldn’t buy some adorable shoes in, say, Paris, for example? 😉 I can only dream that my flat tire story could have such an ending…

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  2. Jennifer G. Knoblock

    Well, I did want to see what they were eating! I love how the man switches to English because he can see she is a lost tourist…I call it the “blank look,” comes in very handy and almost always works. I sigh with envy at your French.

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    • jetgirlcos

      Oh I also wonder what they had for lunch! And I’m sure you have equally enviable skills in German! 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Meg

    A wonderful story! And one that defies stereotypes of ugly Americans and snobbish French. (An aside: my ancestors come from the LaRochelle area…back in the 1600s. If you ever meet a Galipault — or more accurately, Galipeaux — I’m probably related!)

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks, Meg. Interesting side note! Who knows…maybe the couple in my story have that name! If they’re related to you it’s no wonder that they are so nice 🙂

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  4. Silverleaf

    Such a happy, sweet story! I agree with Meg; I like that none of the stereotypes come into play here. You paint such a nice, sunny picture – I could just see that little house a few yards off. I think they were eating wonderful bread, fresh fruits, salad and a good spread of cheese!

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks for reading! I’m sure that’s exactly what they will have! Bien sûr il y aura du fromage 🙂 Having never been to France for real (yet) all I can say is that so far in my life all the French people I have met are super nice and do indeed defy the stereotypes!

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      • Silverleaf

        I’ve had some wonderful trips to France, eaten too much amazing cheese (sadly, there is a point you reach that can be called that), and generally met super nice people everywhere. You will have a great time when you go – you and your fabulous French!

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  5. Suzanne

    I love the way you switch in and out of French so naturally (and I love that I’m bilingual so I can understand everything!). This scene is so charming and so comfortable with very believable dialogue. Of course, now I have an urge to go get a baguette and some brie! 🙂

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    • jetgirlcos

      And I love that you love it 🙂 Merci du compliment! I really haven’t written any fiction-type stuff since college, which was, um…”a few” years ago! I think I could maybe say that…”je peux me débrouiller” en français, but I am far from fluent or elegant. I will just continue to study! I really appreciate the encouragement and the opportunity to read the works of others over at the Speakeasy, so thank you!

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  6. BCIJo (aka Joanne Edith)

    The rings so true,having been to France many times with my husband. He is /was a french teacher and studied in Paris for awhile, so his french is superb. Mine – not so much:)
    Your story reminds me of a time when we had just rented a car in the center of Paris and because is was not automatic,I did the honors. as we pulled away from the Avis rental place just off the Champs Elysess, I pulled nto a parking space on a street lined with cars – a residential area, to familiarize myself with the car. Then I discovered that I couldn’t put the car in reverse. With each attempt, I inched closer to the car in front of me. Finally, a nice man walking his dog (but of course) came over and asked if I needed help – in french of course. He was so nice, I got out, he got in, I held his dog leash and he showed me how the stick shift worked. Although my husband spoke fluent French with him, he was so very nice to me, despite my faltering attempts to communicate. So every time I hear someone complain about the French people, I tell them my story.
    Enjoy your trip – well be heading back next Spring for about 10 days. Bourgonge, Province, Epernay, Alsace – all wonderful places, and we can’t decide on our itinerary!

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    • jetgirlcos

      Oh, my, you are brave, driving in Paris! I won’t be that brave when we go. We shall depart Paris in a train, and only rent a car in much less…congested places! We rented a car a couple of years ago in Dublin, and just leaving the city was a challenge. (other side of the road, other side of the car, roundabouts, etc.) Luckily we had our flat *tyre* in a much smaller Irish town 🙂

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  7. Bastet

    Lovely story, love the happy feeling and the great way everything turned out. Such a beautiful trip for al to remember!

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      • Bastet

        I love happy endings myself whenever possible and I find it’s usually possible. Funny how husbands can think alike though.

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  8. Blake

    Mon dieu, this a penetrating analysis of the female psyche, non? Car is dead; 12 km hike; but, hey, let’s talk about shoes! 🙂

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    • jetgirlcos

      Bien sûr! Pourquoi pas? And then after that we will talk about wine and cheese, and maybe…scarves? 😉 The car will get fixed, it’s not a problem! Thanks for reading!

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  9. inNateJames

    I don’t know why, but all throughout reading your story I thought something bad was going to happen. I was relieved that the women seemed to hit it off and no murders took place!

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    • jetgirlcos

      yikes…*murders*? I thought having a flat tire and walking 12km *was* “something bad!” So I had to balance that out with wine, cheese, and shoes 😉

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      • inNateJames

        Ha! maybe it’s my American mistrust showing through. Two strangers offering kind invites back to their house? What are they trying to get from me?

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        • jetgirlcos

          Hmmm…I see your point. In real life I would be skeptical too, but I would be curious to see her father’s shoe shop 😉

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  10. jannatwrites

    Hey, if sensible shoes looked better we might wear them more often! I like how this story turned out in that they had a nice lunch rather than something horrible happening 🙂

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  11. imab00kworm

    Your French is so good I’m surprised you’ve never been to France! Like Suzanne I understood all of the conversation(s?). I suppose the people who will talk to you will be nice or they wouldn’t bother but unfortunately the stereotype is still true especially in Paris 😦
    Bon voyage!
    PS. I’m uncapable of waking without wobbling in even tiny heels let alone 12km along the beach so bravo!

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks for the kind words. I am learning French specifically to travel there. Yes, I am a geek like that! You should try wedge heels. They’re very stable! I don’t really do the “stiletto” types myself 😉

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  12. Celine Jeanjean

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if this was how flat tires worked out in real life 🙂

    For your up coming trip will it be sensible shoes only?

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    • jetgirlcos

      Yeah, I wish flat tires were like that. Oh well, it’s still an adventure! Sadly, I will only have room for sensible shoes. I will pack one pair of “sort of” dressy shoes for our special anniversary meal, though 🙂

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