Humor of a Jam in Paris may be based on a foreign urban legend, or a true story:
For his graduation from college, Robert was given a trip to Paris.
On the first morning in France he went to a cafe for breakfast. The waitress, a pretty young French girl came over to take his order.
Trying to impress her, he used his best French he had learned back in high school.
He timidly ordered a coffee: “Je voudrais un café au lait.” He paused. “S’il vous plait?”
And she brought him a coffee.
Growing a little more confident with his ability to communicate in a foreign language, he then asked for a croissant.
And she asked him if he wanted butter with it: “Voulez-vous du beurre, Monsieur?”
Proud of himself for understanding, he answered affirmatively, “Oui.”
When she returned with his breakfast she placed it on the table and smiling she said, “Bon appetit!”
Robert thanked her with a wink, “Merci.”
He felt exhilarated by the success of his first attempts to speak French. And thought perhaps she enjoyed his mild flirtation.
He started to eat his breakfast -- but something was missing.
He wanted jam with his croissant. What was the word? He thought for a moment -- digging into his memory for the right word for jam. Ah ha, he thought when he came up with a cognate, because in English jam is also called a preserve.
He called the pretty girl over again.
In his best French pronunciation he proudly said, “Je voudrais un preservative.”
But the young waitress recoiled -- and suddenly slapped him. Then she stormed off.
Dumbfounded Robert sat there trying to understand. What just happened? What went wrong? Everything was going so well.
And just then the man at the next table leaned over and said:
“Young man, perhaps that is the English word for jam. But, in French, you just asked her for a condom!”
LINKS TO MORE HUMOR LEARNING FRENCH:
Humor of David Sedaris from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day