Readers Digest thinks I'm French.
Or at least they think I'm a fluent Francotalker.* Why this is I don't know. The last time someone spoke French to me, it was in the stairwell of a Montreal strip club. I ended up handing over fifteen bucks for an interactive drag show. There was no interaction, but there were definitely drag queens. Maybe I left too early?
Anyway. Last week a plain white envelope came for me, bearing no trace of its origin beyond an anonymous PO box return address. Schmutzie and I thought: collection agency after some long long forgotten debt? Low-interest no-fee credit card that offers Google Miles** and Kryptonite insurance? A missive from the Ministry of Plain White Envelopes? I ripped it open (I'm a messy envelope opener) and found several pages of French. Not the kind of highschool French that helps you out with telling people that there's a souffle in the fridge and that what I like is the country on the weekend, but clause-heavy bureaucratic French, dense as burnt meatloaf and just as appetizing to look at. I flipped the pages over for the English version - after all, this is Canada, where all packaging is bilingual, where milk is lait, the spout is a bec and all the cereal boxes of my childhood shilled for a movie called La Guerre d'Etoiles*** - but no dice. Pas des matrices. Whatever is they wanted me to do, they weren't persuading me. I threw it into the recycling bin.
Yesterday they stepped up their assault. A stiff carboard envelope in crimson and royal blue, stuffed full of colourful brochures, a plastic card, mail-in reply leaflets and more pages of small print showed up - again in French. It seems that they want me to win one million dollars. But I see their game. I have to send in a reply that has "OUI" printed in big letters if I want my million.
Sure. I'll get one million French dollars. I'll have to drive to Quebec to spend them. And we all know about the brigands on the winter roads.
This entry makes no sense.
*I wanted to use the word "Francophone," but then I thought: what if a Francophone were some kind of microphone that automatically translates everything you say into French? Or better yet, a microphone that imparts a French attitude to everything you say? I should build an Anglophone along the same lines, guaranteed to encode any phrase into 100% Anglo. For example:
Die you infidel dogs! -> I will draft a strongly worded letter to the city about the disgraceful state of your lawn.
I'm glad you dropped by. Would you like something to eat? -> Can I start you off with the artichoke and crab dip?
urban decay -> We don't go downtown anymore, there's no parking.
**I don't know what Google Miles are, so don't ask. But feel free to make something up.
***Bilingual packaging sucks the glamour out of advertising, let me tell you. It's hard to get whipped up over "Extreme Flavour Blast Ketchup!" when the French packaging on the reverse side says something like "Incendiary Tomato Condiment On a Precipice!"