In 1962 my father was a historian for NATO in Paris. I was 14. Do you remember being 14? At that time, I was a young girl awakening to the opposite sex….mon dieu!
How fortunate to not be saddled by too many other American friends hanging around who might judge, be jealous or critical of how I was blossoming into this new part of life. I was free to roam the neighborhood and be cool mostly with kids my age from other countries. Needless to say, ‘relationships’ didn’t last long in those days in Paris. At 14 I doubt relationships lasted that long anywhere!
There were no expectations of my behavior, and I could experiment with communication and flirting, all the while using some form of nearly unrecognizable language to impress my European friends. This was pretty dangerous…I wasn’t the greatest in putting together an interesting sentence in English, let alone French. And, in fact, I got in trouble more than once.
One day I was looking for my German ‘boyfriend’ Ollie. I came upon a group of my French friends who I thought might know where he was. As I approached Suzanne, Nicole and a cute guy, Rene, I pointed to the 10 story apartment building where we were standing and said in a quizzical voice, “Ollie?” To which response Rene scooped me up and began carrying me into the building foyer. The girls cracked up. I guess my question had sounded exactly like “au lit” which is pronounced exactly as the name I had said and means ‘to the bed’ in French.
From that point on, most of my young ‘relationships’ consisted mostly of holding hands with some sign language thrown in when necessary.