Mon dieu!

Mon dieu! Today I made a terrible faux pas.

We were in a boulangerie to buy sandwiches for lunch. Monsieur came in, obviously in a terrible hurry. “Après toi,” I said, even while my brain was screaming at me to use vous, not toi. I know the right word to use, but I was concentrating so hard on avoiding saying toi, it just popped out. He immediately corrected me, to which I said “pardonez-moi” several times. After buying his sandwich he came to explain further, that toi was the wrong word to use, that in the South it is ok to use toi, but in the North we must use vous. And this he explained to me in English, since I’m obviously too dense to understand French. Merdre! Zut alors!


2 thoughts on “Mon dieu!

  1. Many years ago I was chatting with an Italian gentleman on an Italian train (in English, of course), and when he left I said, ‘Ciao’. He informed me quite sternly that I should not use ciao to a relative stranger; I should say ‘arrivederci’. I thanked him and tried not to be embarrassed, but I’ve remembered the incident (and the cultural lesson) ever since. I survived, and so will you.

    • What made me so mad, was that as my mouth was talking, I knew it was wrong. It’s like mountain biking – I was looking at the rock and thinking about how I must avoid it, and damned if I didn’t ride right into it!

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