Sunday, December 31, 2006

Loud Mouths

Can you hear Angie begging, "Save me..."

I've never been able to relate to other foreigners who say that they find the French distant, reserved, very polite. Most of the French I know, they're exuberant people of the south. Take, for example, Pierre's family. Christmas-eve dinner and Christmas-day lunch were, as expected, a riot, with everyone talking all at the same time and doing it throughout the meal, too.

At one point during dinner, the very beautiful but perennial malcontent Cindy, our niece, turned, rolled her eyeballs, and told me, "We're all going to end up deaf, with the noise they're making." I raised my eyebrows. "They? Cindy, you're shouting right into my ear!" I guess it runs in the family.

The volume was upped considerably by Pierre and his mom Jeanette. I always say that in a past life, they must have been married because, in this life, put them together in one room and in no time they're at it, bickering like children. No subject is too innocuous, they'll find something about it to disagree on. To such success that sometimes one ends up in tears, or the other walks out.

On the night before Christmas it was, aptly enough, firewood they got hot about about. (Of course, they had tried numerous other subjects before that, electric heating and children's party food among them. All in keeping with the spirit of the season, you understand.)

Jeanette said, pointing to the unused chimney, "Well, I was sick, so I couldn't cut firewood this winter." Pierre took the bait and responded, "You should have asked me to do it for you." Jeanette had the perfect reply: "And then I'd have had to wait a loooong time before you got it done. You're alwaaays busy." To which Pierre tried to retaliate: "But if you never tell me, it will never get done." And on and on and progressively louder for the next ten minutes.

Now, normally, I would've have just stared at my plate and folded in my toes, waiting for one or the other to give up. But I had had enough. It was Christmas. A time for peace, was it not? Summoning my newly polished language skills (I tell you, I managed to throw a couple of subjunctives in there.), I opened my mouth and uttered half a dozen carefully chosen sentences. Essentially, I practiced my French by screaming at my husband and my mother-in-law, "Shut the hell up!!!"

I felt immediate remorse, but to my surprise everyone carried on as usual, only a tad calmer. Jeanette gave me a warm hug and kisses before the night was out. When I asked him later if it was all right, Pierre told me, "Honey, don't worry about it." Then he went on to reassure me, "You're just turning into one of us." I smiled, but in my head I was still screaming: Oh! My! God!


A said...

Hey Mamu! Ang tagal ko na palang di nakabisita dito. Daming happenings ha! Happy happy happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Apol, as long as mas malakas ang speaking voice nila kaysa sa iyo, ok ka pa.

Sean, his dad, and one of his sisters have loud speaking voices too so I find that mine booms across any room for a full week after spending a weekend with all of them. Haha!

Please email me your exact travel dates to Manila. I can't firm up any plans yet, pero baka magparamdam ako, hahaha!

Katrina said...

Before anything else: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, girl!!! Felipe and I hope your day is a truly special one. We miss you over here, but send clenched-fist-raised, long-hair-down, loud-voiced, soft-skinned, opinion-holding, arts-and-crafts-making grrrl powerrrr!

I'm SO SORRY I've been absent from your blog for so long. I've been so frazzled that many things have had to fall by the wayside. I sent you an e-mail to your Yahoo address which explains much of it, but it bounced back. Please send me your new address so I can update you on my big news! :-)

I'm going to try and make my way through your recent posts today, so I hope you still read comments on old posts.

Hey, by the way, I met a friend of yours last week -- she works (used to work?) in Disney. She was a newcomer to the group (which included Karen), that evening but fit right in.

Hope to hear from you soon, Apol. My apologies for taking up so much space on your comments page. 'Di kasi kita ma-e-mail, e. ;-)

Katrina said...

Yay, I've caught up and can now comment on your most recent entry! (Naturally, simply reading your entries and not making a comment is not an option for me...) ;-) Pierre's family sounds a lot like mine, except for the tears and least, not on a regular basis. When Felipe first started hanging out with us, he was kind of overwhelmed. It took him a while, but now he can be as sarcastic and smart-alecky as the rest of us. Recently, he was trying to explain me to a friend of his (yes, I understand that's often necessary), and Felipe told him that having lunch with my family is like facing a panel at a revalida: you can't say anything without expecting to be challenged and cross-examined on it, so you'd better be prepared to defend your stand!

Wait...did I understand Katsmeow's comment correctly, are you COMING TO MANILA?!?! Please, please, let's do try to find time for another chatathon! I can adjust to your schedule, promise! :-)

apol said...

Hey, ABI, medyo pagod nga ang ate mo these days eh. The holidays can be exhausting.

KAT, parang we live in parallel dimensions! Baka I'm living in France which is just like the Philippines which is just like Washington? Ewan. See you soooonnnnnn!!!!!

Hi, KATRINA! I was wondering where you'd disappeared to. Salamat to you and Felipe for remembering my birthday. I want to visit Manila soon but don't know when yet. Will e-mail you when I know for sure, and of course we will see each other. My e-mail address is still the same; maybe Yahoo was just having problems when you e-mailed? Try again, I want to hear your news!