I carried a bottle of red Argentinian wine through the streets of Le Plateau district. We found Alexandre, the restaurant, and were enveloped in smells of fresh, warm garlic, lemon, butter, bread.
The menu was completely in French but I could understand most of it, asking Vincent now and then for clarification. Our waitress came over, a pleasant woman with a quick energy and a simple presence. I decoded that she wanted to know if she could open our bottle of wine. I let Vincent make this transaction even though I wanted to practice my French. I wasn’t exactly sure if I could handle it.
She poured the vin rogue into our glasses and we toasted, “Sante.” We always toast Sante even at home in Buffalo. Good health. Toasts were always important in my family growing up and I like that I am continuing this tradition, even if they are now in French. Actually, especially now that they are in French.
The waitress gave us some time and then she came back to take our order.
Picture how quickly a drunk sloth would talk. This is how quickly I speak French. “Je voudrais les moules s’il vous plaît.” She took a quick nap while I was speaking this sentence and then woke up well in time for the end of it.
Then she said something and I heard mayonaise or ketchup and I said, “Mayonaise, s’il vous plaît.”
Then she asked what kind of soup I wanted and I actually understood the choices and ordered “Creme de broccoli.” The entire restaurant applauded and a young child gave me a dozen roses. Oh wait. Disregard that last part. That never happened. Only in my mind. Vincent did smile a really big smile and nodded his head approvingly. He is like the most encouraging person ever and basically keeps me thinking that I may one day speak French (“In sixty days, you will be fluent,” he always says, but he never defines when those sixty days start, so I always have sixty more days. Smart fox, that one.)
Vincent ordered mussels too, but a different kind. Then the waitress left, brought us pain et beurre. It tasted very good and crispy with the wine.
We spoke in French but in America when we speak in French no one can understand us so it’s like we are talking in secret code (childhood tree house fantasty coming to life: we are spies and no one knows our secret language but us. aha!), but here in Montreal, everyone else was speaking French, so that really defeated the purpose. Anyway, we practiced and then the food came.
Fresh, crisp, hot french fries: thin and delicious! A huge bowl of fresh, steaming, lemon scented mussels: warm and delicious! More wine! More water! No more bread, I’m watching my bread intake, but thank you!
We ate like royalty. We ate and we drank and we talked and I told an uncomfortable story about earwax and Vincent said, “It was going so well. Why would you tell that story? In France, we do not tell these things.” Then I was thinking, “In America, we don’t really either, but in my country, Havenoideahowtodate Land, we do!” I’m really glad I don’t have to go on dates with strangers anymore because I am not so good at it. Not so good at all, but man do I dress well.
Anyway, back to the point. The point is we left the restaurant with half a bottle of wine inside our throats and a glass before and a Guiness before that, so we paraded home, arm in arm, singing “Les Champs Elysses” song well into the dark night. We got to our airbnb and put on that song and then danced, one foot here, one foot here, in the center of the living room well into the night.
My life is a dream.