Humor of Language Tapes in French is adapted from Me Talk Pretty One Day, a humorous book partly about struggling to learn French, by David Sedaris.
Here are excerpts from the chapter The Tapeworm Is In:
“Before leaving New York, I enrolled in a month long French class taught by a beautiful young Parisian woman who had us memorize a series of dialogues (in French) from an audio cassette that accompanied our textbook:
‘What do you want to do, my friends? Go out?’
‘Go out where? Go out to the discotheque?’
‘No, go out to a restaurant, to the House of Butterfly.’
‘The House of Butterfly! Is that a pleasant restaurant?’
‘It is not expensive, if that is what you mean.’
‘Oh, good. The matter is settled. Let us all proceed to the House of Butterfly!’
Fabienne, Carmen, and Eric spent a great deal of time in outdoor restaurants, discussing their love life and enjoying colas served without ice.
Passing acquaintances were introduced at regular intervals, and it was often noted that the sky was blue.
Because it was a beginning course, the characters on our tape generally steered clear of slang and controversy.
Avoiding both the past and the future, they embraced the moment with the stoicism common to Buddhists and recently recovered alcoholics.
Hoping it might help with my memorization assignments, I broke down and bought a Walkman.
I found that walking through New York became a pleasure. Crossing Fourteenth Street, an unmedicated psychotic would brandish a toilet brush, his mouth moving wordlessly as, in my head, the young people of France requested a table with a view of the fountain.
If a person who constantly reads is labeled a bookworm, then I was quickly becoming what might be called a TAPEWORM.
The tape made me eager for our move to Paris, where, if nothing else, I’d be able to rattle from memory such (French) phrases as
‘Let me give you my telephone number’
‘I too love the sandwich.’
As it turns out, I have not had occasion to use either of these sentences.
Though I could invite someone to call me, the only phone number I know by heart is Eric’s, the young man on my French tape. My brain is big enough to hold only one ten-digit number, and since his was there first, I have no idea how anyone might go about phoning me.
I guess I could stick with the line about the sandwich, but it hardly qualifies as newsworthy.
I sometimes wonder why I even bothered with French class.