We were invited to share ‘oeufs à la neige’ with the nice couple who are renting the gite opposite us. Agnès is a fine yoga teacher and he, Max, (wait for it…) ‘sculpts vegetables’. When we arrived the aroma of sculpted vegetable curry was still in the air and conversation was in full flow:
“Il a des yeux bleus, ton père”
“Non, il a des yeux marrons”
“Oui, t’as raison, sa peau c’est plutôt bleue; il est ‘marron-bleu’”
“Par contre ma soeur, avec ses yeux bleus, est bleu-marron”
“Comme toi, marron-bleu”…..
…and so it went on, this endless ping pong game of brown eyes and blue skin and blue eyes and brown skin across generations of our hostess’ and guests’ families. Then I made a joke. Someone said:
“Tu sais, c’est marrant…..” meaning not that it was brown but that it was funny, presumably with the intention of going on to say something more about the hint of blue tint of her tante Cecile’s complexion, but it was too good an opportunity to miss and I jumped in with
“Non, c’est bleu!”.
The thing is - no- one laughed. Except me, of course. The person whom I had interrupted was obviously put out that I had stolen her moment and everyone else simply looked quizzically at their ouefs floating in their neige.
I have been wondering if I am losing my humour, and if it is about living in France or getting old. Or if the French simply aren’t very funny and I am out of practice….
I think I used to be quite funny. Well, I used to make people laugh a lot in a dry-mixed-with-a-bit-of-Python sort of way…..(I think….)
I did hear someone French make a joke once. It was the ugly potato seller in the covered market at les Halles in Avignon. He had a notice up in his stall which said:
‘Manger les pommes de terre, ça fait de beaux bébés’ (eating potatoes makes beautiful babies). I said: “Ce n’est pas vrai!”, meaning it wasn’t true because Julian ate potatoes loads and then he married someone who couldn’t have babies at all, let alone beaux babies, so that disproved the ugly potato seller’s theory. The ugly potato seller replied “cela n’a pas marché avec moi non plus”, meaning, presumably, that his mother was also an ugly potato seller and had eaten many potatoes and she just gave birth to another ugly potato seller, which is fine, but then there was the ‘non plus’ bit which had me pretty non-plussed because it implied that I had meant that MY mum had eaten lots of potatoes and look at the ugly cow SHE gave birth to which if course I didn’t.
When Julian and I met (at the original barefoot wedding) we snogged around the campfire quite a bit and then went to Julian’s one-man tent where we literally laughed all night. I thought ‘Yes, I could definitely love this man and I could live with anyone who makes me laugh this much’. I remember it was something to do with Devonshire animal noises, but they have animals here too and they don’t seem very funny.