Fist-pumps for french fries

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who reached out to us the past 48 hours to ensure we’re okay given what happened in Paris Friday night. We’re two hours away from Paris by train (four by car) but even at that we’re playing it safe. Case in point, I had considered spending a few days this next week in our Ukraine office, but decided it was better to stay home.   

Okay, this week's update...

After an emotionally and mentally exhausting day yesterday, Dave stumbles out of school and drags himself onto a nearly empty bus - hoping to slump away his 30-minute commute on the very back row. Unfortunately, in attempting to communicate where he needed to go (a necessary step for most bus rides domestic or international), he inadvertently sparks a conversation with the driver. Young, energetic, and obviously of North African descent, the driver speaks with what Dave assumes is a strong Franco-lisp, which unfortunately quickly evens the playing field of comprehension between the two.

“T’es Anglaith?” (You Englith?) the driver kicks off.

“Par-done?” (Huh?) Dave immediately fumbles the ball... but recovers quickly, “Amer-ee-cain. Ça va?” (For anyone that skipped Jr. High French that means "American, how are you?")

“Thuper! Vive la Franthe!” (Super, Vive the France) at which point the driver literally does a seated touchdown dance in his impressively padded throne, taking both hands off the wheel in order to adequately pump-fist three, four... no five times (this is only slightly disconcerting to Dave given the amount of turning required on the small village back roads being traveled in the moment).

Taken slightly aback by the energy given the circumstances in Paria, Dave lamely repeats back “Oui, vive la France... surtout aujourd’hui!” (Yes, vive the France... especially today.). It’s obviously a misstep as it immediately melts the grin off the driver’s face.

In the only sombre :20 that pass between the two, the driver then clearly responds: “Non, mon ami, vive la Franthe touth leth jourth.” (Non, my friend, vive la France every day).

In the end Dave never makes it to the back row, preferring to stand upfront next to Isam (the name of his new friend - derived from the Quran meaning, not surprisingly, “connection” or “bond”). The remaining 27 minutes sees at least two more pump-fist sessions, the most enthusiastic coming when Dave admits to Isam that French food was indeed better than its American counter(top)parts.

On a day when the world seemed busy pitting Muslim fundamentalists against the human race, Dave walks off that bus grateful that Isam obviously didn’t associate himself or his faith with any part of the horrendous acts of the night previous. Nor was he busy passing judgement on those that had committed themselves and their lives to what seemed like absolute madness. Instead, he decided to do a little ditty just knowing his french fries are the best in the world.

Dave SmurthwaiteComment