As part of his school’s curriculum this Spring, Large has the opportunity to take foreign language classes – French and Spanish. He chose to start with French; I suspect largely because some of his north country friends are bilingual and it has always fascinated him that they-along with their parents-can carry on entire conversations “in code.” I thought I fully understood his desire to crack the code having spent many a meal at friends’ houses where my conversational contributions were “Oui,” and “Je ne comprend pas.” But, non.

A few weeks ago, one of these French speaking families was visiting ours. We were eating lunch at the fabulous Burlington institution, Al’s French Frys (if you haven’t been, you must – your arteries will not thank you but your salt-and-grease taste buds will). Liam was graciously pumping ketchup into little paper cups for the group when I remembered to mention it to his eight-year old buddy.

“John*, did you know that Liam has started taking French at school?”

“Yeah, I know,” John replied. “He asked me earlier how to say ‘stupid idiot’ in French.”

“What did you tell him?” John’s mother and I chorused in stereo.

John shrugged and picked up a vinegar-drenched french fry.  “Stupide idiotte.”

Quelle fantastique.  Liam’s French teacher must have loved that one.

*Not his real name.