Friday, September 10, 2010

Beaucoup de Kaplans

Yesterday, Soren left on his first business trip since we arrived here in Paris. Basically, this means I am without my IT tech support, garbage man, smoothie chef, and translator for 10 days.

In anticipation of Soren's absence, I entered an intense French survival training regimen that included: Learning how to take out the garbage and sort it per the apartment building rules, understanding how to print documents from the apartment printer, learning how our blender works, practicing making phone calls from our Paris phone and my cell phone which I have yet to make use of, learning how to add funds to our Metro cards, knowing what number to call and where to go in case of a medical emergency, memorizing our apartment door code in case I forget my keys, printing a laminated card with all of my contact information on it that now resides in my wallet, obtaining the contact information of some local relatives in case I need help, and practicing with the translator programs loaded onto my iPod Touch. Just to name a few.

In addition, I had a crash-course in the Kaplan Family Tree in preparation for attending last night's dinner party. The girls and I met twenty-eight Kaplan relatives (on Soren's grandfather's side) that I never even knew we had. As is the French way, the party started at 8:30 p.m. On a school night! And, as custom dictates, you do not show up sooner than 9:00 p.m.  Soon after we were seated, I quickly realized that this was not just a dinner party for the sake of visiting with relatives. The male guests put on their yarmulkes and our host, Lazarre, began speaking in Hebrew. My crash course for this evening did not include a mention of any Jewish holiday. I was hoping nobody would realize that I was clueless as to what we were celebrating.  Since we share their same last name, I assumed that they assumed we were Jewish too.  I did overhear a guest say, "Happy New Year," so I guessed we were celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Indeed, when I returned home and googled the term, my hunch was confirmed.

During the meal, I sat between two male relatives who were, I could tell, very comical and nutty, even though I could not understand most of what they were saying. They did speak a little English to me and told me of their love for San Francisco (I love being able to tell the French we are from San Francisco, they always swoon). One of them thought my American accent was very charming so he proceeded to give me French words to say (especially words with the letter 'r' since he was amused by my inability to make the correct "errr" sound). Upon my repeating the words, my tablemates would laugh (with me, I hope, not at me). I tried to be as charming as possible, but I have no idea if I pulled it off. For all I know, they were saying to each other, "Get a load of this broad! Let's tell her to say  '!@%$#%', she won't know what it means! Ha ha ha ha..."

Surprisingly, soon after the help served dessert, guests were still eating while almost everyone began to get up and prepare to leave. The girls and I were still enjoying our dessert when our relative, Olivier, asked if he could drive us home. He already had put his coat on and his keys were in his hand. He and his wife had not even finished their desserts. It was as if everyone was going to turn into pumpkins if they did not get home by midnight. Which, by the time we got home and got into bed, it was. Overall, it was a very pleasant evening and both Raelyn and Nola were troopers what with the new people, new foods, bravely sitting at a different dining table than me, and not falling asleep.

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