Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Faux ami?

Our elderly neighbor entered the building as I was getting my mail. I greeted him with “Bonjour” and he responded with a lovely “Bonjour, Madame” followed by a remark about étiquette. Yes, it would have been more polite to follow my salutation with “Monsieur,” but I’m not Gigi, plus he caught me off guard. Still perturbed when I entered my apartment, I decided to look up the word to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken. Thankfully, smart ass remarks don’t fall out of my mouth in French as easily as they do in English, otherwise we’d be moving again. It seems that étiquette also means identification tag or label. The kind man likely was making chitchat about the makeshift étiquette that I’d stuck to the outside of our mailbox while we await the proper one that is on order from the engraver (or he was telling me that it’s bad etiquette to stick a homemade gummy label to the mailbox).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making me laugh. :0
delphine

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Hehe!! Sometimes I say-- Bonjour Madame/Monsieur... and sometimes I omit the ediquette part!!! Oh well... sir/madame is just so darned FORMAL!!! Glad you liked the purple orchids and that you have a fav. fleur!! Ciao, Leesa

Jennifer said...

Whew, this story has a good ending. :)

The Late Bloomer said...

That's funny! That he could have been talking about the etiquette on the mailbox -- I wouldn't have even thought of that, when you started the story...

Even now, after more than 5 years here, I still sometimes forget to tack on the whole Mme/M. thing, and I should know better. But I try to be as friendly as possible, so I don't get the whole big deal. Yes, it is a cultural thing, but it's also a bit "fake", if you ask me. They often complain that Americans say, "hey, how are you doing?" and that this isn't sincere, but how sincere, REALLY, is the whole sing-songy "Bonjour, Madame"? Honestly!

Sorry, I've gone off on a tangent here...

Marine Wife said...

My husband isn't even French and he can be so stiff and formal that after 9 years together my family still isn't sure what he "means" by it. I can't get them to understand that sometimes he's even that stiff with me. At least the French have a (cultural) excuse! Recently, I rec'd a letter signed (his name) -- Your husband. Like I didn't know.

Glad you liked the new name.

ColourMeCrazy said...

I always forget the Monsieur/Madame - it's enough for me to remember to say Bonjour instead of Salut ;-)

fred said...

Bonjour wifey,

I can't believe all the people who answered on this blog without a proper bonjour; how rude ;-)


Most French people say "bonjour, comment allez vous?" but they don't want to hear something else than "bonjour, ça va bien merci et vous?". The whole Americans don't mean it is just BS, we do the same.

David said...

Are you sure he wasn't talking about the "kick me" tag someone stuck on your back as you were walking down the street? :-)