Find­ing Me in France

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT - HAROLDWALT­ERS Book Re­marks Harold Walters is an avid reader liv­ing in Pla­cen­tia. ‘gh­wal­[email protected]­sona.ca’.

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.

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