You’re having a nice lunch out with a romantic partner. The waitress approaches and suddenly your partner begins to choke, only he’s not choking. He’s trying to speak French, and even though no one understands him, he presses on. Your face breaks into an expression of equal parts sympathy and shame.
Here are five tips to not cringe the next time your partner attempts to speak French in public.
As soon as he says “excusez-moi” and does that little thing when he puts a finger up, ask him to step on your foot, hard. Soon the only thing you’ll be thinking about is the pain shooting up your leg and not that the waitress has stuffed her ears with cotton.
The substance used in anti-wrinkle treatment is no longer just for cosmetic purposes. By literally paralyzing the muscles around your mouth and eyes, you won’t be able to show your annoyance, or any emotion at all, when some mangled version of “un verre de vin rouge” falls out of his mouth.
As soon as you see that glimmer in his eye that he’s about to attempt “j’aimerais commander,” close your eyes and imagine a partially frozen lake, and then imagine jumping in and saying truthfully and excitedly, “Oh my God, it’s so cold.” Now, instead say, “You speak very good French.” He’ll believe you.
Open a window on your smartphone browser and find one of those “People are Amazing” videos that shows a guy in a wingsuit flying through a narrow canyon, or a snowboarder outrunning an avalanche. When your partner says “le plat du jour,” you can sneak a peek at the video and say “wow, good job” and your partner will think you’re speaking about him.
Before going out in public with your partner, read a book about the evolution of language, and pay special attention to the chapter on Neanderthals who could probably only grunt and count to two. Now, when your partner strings together three French words that might be a request for bread, think of him as King of Neanderthals, a Marcel Proust of the cave dwellers, and applaud him.