Finding Me in France
My scribble pencil is worn down to a twoinch nub.
I have a habit of doodling in the margins when I’m reading. I’m especially prone to drawing wee images of the iconic ‘Happy Face’ near lines I find humourous.
Diameter size indicates the intensity of the laugh.
The margins of ‘Finding Me In France’ (Creative Publishers) are chock-a-block with grinning circles – small ones, middle-sized ones, great big ones. My scribble pencil, 7.5 inches – I measured – to begin with, is a two-inch stump.
Pick any chapter, any page – indeed, any paragraph – and you’ll find a grin, a chuckle – lordy, an outright guffaw – worthy of a correspondingly sized Happy Face.
Bobbi French, who describes herself as ‘a gigantic, feminist psychiatrist’ and when fancying herself with a fashionable pixie haircut as ‘ looking like a giant Q-Tip’, chucked in her successful medical career in Canada and hie-deehoed off to – guess where – France.
Accompanied by her almost-too-perfect husband Neil she moved to France hoping to begin a new career in vacation property management – whatever that means, other than the obvious.
Bobbi French reminds me of Tom Robbins in his heyday – Tom Robbins, whose novel ‘Jitterbug Perfume’ on first reading caused me to laugh out loud and make a spectacle of myself in a crowded public place. Consequently, I will never read Finding Me In France among the multitudes unless pressed by necessity.
Imagine the looks cast my way if I hee-hawed at top volume in response to this line written by a woman experiencing stress in the Land of Escargot: “Baby, I’m tough as snails.”
Speaking of stress, as I scribble this I’m on the cusp of international travel, not to France but to places tropical and – I know you won’t believe me – I would rather remain home here in Newfoundland where the weather is as cold as French’s first winter in France: “It’s so cold here Brigitte Bardot is wearing a sealskin coat.”
In the nights preceding my travels I’ve awakened from claustrophobic dreams of being 30,000 feet closer to Heaven crammed shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, knee to knee with other encased travellers like proverbial sardines packed fin to fin in a similar tin can.
“There are few things in life,” writes Bobbi French, “that dis- please me more than air travel. There aren’t enough drugs on the planet to put me to sleep on a plane.” Me too! Moi aussi! Like French, it’s impossible for me to go noddy-bye aboard a jet. Nor can I read as do so many other flyers.
Lordy-lord, I wouldn’t be able to re-read this memoir, its humour notwithstanding. But … … but Finding Me In France – despite the fact I never want to visit said foreign land – has provided me with much needed laughter on the brink of my impending … well, what Missus calls vacation.
And something else – I’ve irritated family and friends by insisting that wherever you go, in whatever distant, postcard climes you choose to visit, there will be much of the same old stuff that’s disgusting at home.
French comments: “Paris may indeed be mired in dog merde …”
I say: No matter where you roam, there will always be dog whoopsie!
Bobbi French’s first year in France – essentially the timeline of this book – has its frustrations as you would expect. She confesses to a weakness in learning a new language, to the fact her French is often scoffed at by snooty personnes francaises looking down their snouts. But … … but – remember she’s tough as snails – she’ll not be intimidated by aloof snooty snouts – snouty snoots?: “But it takes more than that to keep me down. Being made fun of by snotty mainlanders your whole life eventually pays off.”
Finding Me In France is the funniest book I’ve read since – as Pappy used to say, although I never understood the reference – Adam was a cowboy. It truly is.
My favourite pun addresses the mating proclivities of ducks: ‘Quack whores, the lot of them’.
When he was a child and had done something he hoped was humourous, Daddy’s Boy would ask with some concern, “Is I’m funny?” Well, Bobbi French is. Is I’m? Thank you for reading.