« The Time of the Lone Wolf is Over | Main | Going South: 89 to 91 »

July 19, 2007

Je Me Souviens

"Do you know a marine store, yes?" the man asked me.

"Sure do," I replied. "West Marine. It's just a little ways out of town."

I was picking up a family of four at the traffic circle by the Community Boat House and Echo Museum. The father climbed into the front with me, while his adolescent son held his mother's arm and hand as she gingerly lowered herself into the back seat. The boy and his similarly-aged sister then jumped in with mom. As they taxied-up they spoke among themselves in French.

These folks were Quebecois, our jolly friends from the north in La Belle Province. The French they spoke bore the same relation to the French spoken in France as Bernie Sander's Brooklyn accent does to the Queen's English. And the analogy doesn't end there. Like Brooklynites, the Quebecers (to grossly stereotype, my specialty) are gregarious to the point of rambunctiousness; they come down to B-town to mix it up and have a good time. In other words, these are not the caricature of the effete, standoffish Frenchmen so mocked in the American press. Which is another way of saying they're the Brooklyn version of French people. Fahgetaboutit!

The mom in the back leaned forward and said, "Drive slow, please. I broke two rib yesterday. I went - how do you say? - tubing with my kids. I am thinking I am 18!" With that the family all cracked up.

"Well, you could pass for 18, if you ask me," I lied. She was an attractive women with stylish, short blond hair and a shapely but chunky body, which seems right to me for a women who has a had couple of kids. Forty-something moms who are rail thin freak me out a little bit. I figure either they've either sold their souls to the devil or they're spending way to much time at the gym.

"You flirting wit my wife, brudder?" the man said, arching his eyebrows in faux aggression.

"Could you blame me?" I replied, and we laughed together, manly men that we were.

We dropped the kids on Church Street as they had zero interest in a boating supply shopping trip avec la mere et le pere. During the summer months, most of the Quebecers I drive have docked their boats at the Burlington area marinas, fanning out onto the waterfront like so many friendly human sea mammals. The beauty part is:  they have no cars; hence, the taxi calls.

Up at the marine outlet in the Staples shopping plaza, the man was like a kid in a candy store. Ostensibly they were there to purchase a fake-grass welcome mat, but everything looked good to him. His wife attempted to rein him in, but sweetly without real dissension. If an overflowing appetite for boating gear was her mate's only vice, I suppose she's way ahead of the game. He ended up buying a new boat radio antenna (picture a car antenna on extra-strength Viagra), some bungee cords and special boat dishes, don't ask.

On the way back to the marina we talked dinner. They had eaten before at Three Tomatoes, but wanted to try a new place. Without pause, I recommended A Single Pebble, Steve Bogart's gustatory tour de force on Bank Street. "Is it very good?" the man asked.

"Well, put it this way," I said. "Eating there for the first time, people come out saying, 'My God, I've never tasted food before.'"

"OK,, OK," he said lifting his hands in surrender. "We are sold. But, if we don't like it, we know to blame you."

"That's a chance I'm willing to take," I said. "Remember to order the mock eel and the fried green beans."

I picked the family up later, at 7:15, for the short ride up the hill to the restaurant. When I showed up to retrieve them a couple hours later, the four of them were standing at the curb scowling. "It was terrible," the man said as he got into the taxi. "Yes," his son echoed, "we hate it."

My brain froze for ten seconds and then they all burst out laughing. "We get you!" the man said. "We really love it. The green bean especially."

"What a bunch of actors," I said, laughing along with them. "You should be in the movies."

July 19, 2007 at 04:08 PM in A Cabdriver's World | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Je Me Souviens:


OK, I'm french canadian and this had to be one of the funniest stories I've read. You're too much sometimes. They really didn't like Single Pebble?? That's just wrong...

Posted by: AustinDriveGuy | Jul 20, 2007 10:27:18 AM

Thanks, AustinDriveGuy, for the French-Canadian endorsement. I think perhaps you either read the ending a little too quickly or, more likely, my writing was incoherent. Because, ADG, the family played a trick on me - they were acting! In fact, they loved the meal at ASP, just like anyone else with functioning tastebuds, bud.

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Jul 20, 2007 12:02:24 PM

Oh...my bad :) I think I did read too quickly. Your writing is impeccable! HAHA ;)

Posted by: AustinDriveGuy | Jul 20, 2007 1:31:09 PM

Speaking of our neighbors to the north .... did you know that Quebec is three times the size of Texas?? (by area)

True fact. Look it up!

Posted by: CashCabTrivia | Jul 20, 2007 1:52:02 PM

True enough, CashCabTrivia, but no armadillos. BTW, love your posting name . . .

Posted by: Jernigan Pontiac | Jul 20, 2007 3:07:08 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.