Here are just a few of the unique “life lessons”(?) I’ve learned during my time in Franceland:
1. If you happen to get pulled over by the French popo for doing something unacceptable like speeding 5 km/h over the limit or daring to make a left turn, try to resist that inflammatory gangsta nature of yours, and whip out a naïve, slightly bamboozled American smile. Don’t forget to play the role of charming yet daft simpleton, and certainly don’t be afraid to allow a single tear to roll down your bravely smiling cheek.
2. If you find yourself driving around France in your stick shift miniV, havin’ a ball, laughing n singing like it ain’t no thang, THINK AGAIN and NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN because that old lady driving ahead of you might just decide to rapidly switch into reverse in the middle of the road and begin a demented, slow motion game of bumper cars with you as you desperately attempt to honk your horn, which has hilariously decided to malfunction on the wrong damn day.
3. If you want to live, by all means avoid eating ANY and ALL mushrooms that you find ANYWHERE AT ANY TIME. If you simply must go mushroom hunting rather than investing in a truffle pig, MY GOD don’t you forget to bring one hundred tiny plastic bags in which to store your individual mushrooms as, if you mix them together, the poisonous devil shroomies will contaminate the entire batch. Also don’t touch your eyes during your mushroom quest or you WILL go blind or possibly die. (This general message was conveyed to me by a local pharmacist who inspected the fresh bag of mushies that the French twins and I collected during an enthusiastic forage throughout the forest. All of our hopes were dashed when the pharmacist told us that we’d basically collected enough poison to wipe out all of humanity.
4. Don’t go jogging on private farmlands and/or what may or may not be hunting grounds. I learned this lesson the hard way one deceptively charming morning a couple weeks back; the sun was shining, the birds were chirping away in French, and I decided to take my run down this beauteous, new path I’d discovered beyond a gate that might have warned, “Private Property” or “Danger: Death”–it was all in French, so who can really be certain? Anywhoo, it looked to be a fine scenic route and, best of all, as I was running, I spotted this single black stallion waiting for me behind a fence a little ways off. I merrily picked up the pace, practically skipping my way over to Black Beauty, when suddenly “BAAAAAANG!”–I was met with a cordial, ear-splitting explosion of close-range gunfire. I probably jumped 900 feet in the air, simultaneously screaming “WHAT THE F[udge]?!?!?” when a second later I saw in the distance a menacing Frenchman holding a rifle and waving at me with angry gestures which I assume can only have meant, “Get the h(uckleberry finn) off my land, American swine!” I am polite and value my life, so I respected his wishes and calmly sprinted away.