Brian est dans le cuisine.

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Oh mon dieu.  There’s someone in the kitchen.

I hear them.  They are clanking a cup.

I just heard them cough.  Did you hear that?

Oh no.  It’s happening again.

Brian is in the kitchen.

Merde, Brian.  Why are you always in my kitchen? Porquoi?

I’m walking in, Brian.

I am.

Right now.

Oh yeah.  This is great.  This is a new level, Brian. Even though you are wearing a shirt that looks like a refrigerator, I can tell you are not actually a refrigerator.  First, you are wearing cargo shorts.  Second, you have a new style of facial hair that seems post-modern somehow.  And you have that strange cough all the time. Why are you coughing so much?

Oh!  Quoi? You’re making me an espresso?  Okay, fine.  You can be in my kitchen.

This time, Brian.

Seriously, I’m on to you.  You need to get your own effing kitchen. You can rent them as part of an apartment or you can buy a house or you can just continually stay in airbnbs like I did during a dark period of my life when I had just dropped out of that online med school and I thought I wanted to write a book about crows.  I was wrong.  Both about online med school and the crows.

Anyway, so, while Brian’s making me a little afternoon espresso,  I will tell you about Brian and the kitchen.  This is a phrase that French people know.  Other people know it too. I think.  But, I know it because French people learn English by repeatedly saying the phrase “Brian is in the kitchen” over and over again. At least, this is my understanding of English education in France.

So that’s why the following isn’t an uncommon conversation in Paris or Lyon or possibly even in Montreal:

Me: Hey!

Jacque Pierre Leclerc: Brian is in the Kitchen.

Me: What? Really!  Is he like your friend? Is he making you dinner?

Jacque: Brian is in the kitchen.

Me: Hmm.  You seem annoyed at this fact.

JPL: Brian is in the kitchen.

Me: What happened between you and this guy?  Is this some kind of bad Tinder experience?

Jacque-attack: Brian is in the kitchen.

Me: I feel like Brian is a metaphor here for your deep internal sadness.  Is that right? Man, I should have gone to online psychiatrist school.  Damn it.  Why did I spend so much time with those crows?

Jacque-strappe: Brian is in the kitchen.

Me (sadly): Yeah.  It’s true.  It really is. I get it.  “Brian” is in the “kitchen.”  C’est la vie, mon ami.

***

I often use this phrase when talking to Vincent.  I will be in the kitchen and then loudly say, “Oh no!”

And Vincent will say, “What?”  And then I’ll yell, “BRIAN IS IN THE KITCHEN!”

And then Vincent won’t laugh but rather continue to read Le Monde on his cellular telephone.

But, I will laugh.  And I will wonder one day what happens if Brian is actually in the kitchen.

I don’t know what I’ll do, but this espresso is delicious.  Brian, I can clearly tell you’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen.

 
 

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Fish Sticks and Death Jokes

Oh okay, so my dream aspiration is to become this famous writer, so famous that when I go to give blood at the Red Cross, the nurses are like, “Wow.  Is it really you, Jocelyn Fingle Murklestone (my pseudonym)?” and then I’m like, “Yes.  It actually is!” and then they are like, “Wow, whoever gets this blood is so lucky” and then I modestly say, “Well, I’m pretty lucky too because I get these free Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and this mini cranberry juice.”  And then we both nod and then my watch which is a phone and connected to the leaf pin on my shirt rings (remember this is in like five years) and it’s my agent who has also become a close friend of mine and she’s asking if I can both give a talk in Paris next month and if I’d like to come over to her Brooklyn apartment this Friday night and play Scrabble with her and I’m like, “Yeah, definitely to both.  I’ll throw it on the calendar right after Lute Club practice.”

Oh wait, what?  You didn’t ask me what I was dreaming about just then?  Oh sorry. Disregard that whole thing.  Yeah, you can have half my fish stick.  I’m probably not going to eat that.

So, yeah, but my life is going pretty darn well.  I am in the middle of a French middle grade book and am understanding at least one out of seven sentences.  I have learned the words “Berk!” (yuck) from this book.  I have also learned “grave” (“seriously or totally”) from my French friends in Buffalo and possibly “psycho chienne” (psycho bitch) from the TV show, “Catastrophe” but I’m not quite sure that’s correct because it doesn’t seem quite right.  If it is, I think these will all come in very useful.  Especially in this kind of situation:

“Berk!  Cette homme juste vomit son biere sur moi!”

“Pff! Quoi un psycho chien!”

“Oui.  Oui.  Je suis d’accord. Allons-y mon ami!”

“Grave!”

I’ve learned that to make up for having only moderate French skills I try to be really funny in French.  This is pretty hard.  It’s also pretty risky.  But, when it works, it really pays off.  For instance, at a wedding in Bordeaux, I was around all French speakers.  This was super scary and required me to drink multiple glasses of wine.  I couldn’t really understand what people were saying, but after the “night” (read: wine) wore on, I decided to make a joke saying the name “Gerard Depardieu” as a kind of French toast.  No one really understood, including myself, what this meant, but it served to make everyone laugh like–“That crazy American! Wow! What individuality!  What a good pick, Vincent!”

I think if I were ever to move to a foreign country, I would really need to work on my French humor.  I’ve noticed that French people, i.e. Vincent, find things that are somewhat dark and disturbing to me, to be very funny.  For instance, the concept of death.  If I tell a good joke involving some kind of mockery of death, Vincent finds it really funny.  It’s sort of like this nihilistic, existential personality that Americans often associate with the French.

I kind of like this type of joking now so I look for opportunities to make jokes about death.  Like, I have this idea that when I die, I don’t want to be in a cemetery.  Instead, I saw this Facebook ad for essentially, “death trees.”  Like you put your ashes in the tree and then you have the tree in your garden.  This sounds like a way better use of my body than anything else, so I joke about it with Vincent–like, “You’re gonna be sorry you’re insulting my gardening skills when I end up in a tree in our living room and every time you walk by the tree, I creepily drop one single leaf to show you that I’m watching you.  Always.  For Eternity.”  We both find this really funny.  When I make these jokes with my American parents, they don’t find this funny. They just look really sad and change the subject.  So,  you know, you have to select your humor for the audience I guess.

Why did I even order these fish sticks?  Man.  Fish should not be rectangular.  Lesson learned.