Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Confessional

Probably the most ruthless thing I ever did to another fellow American happened on Easter.

The time and place: a small village in Alsace-Lorraine, the exact name of which escapes me at present. The year must have been 1991 or 1992.

We, the self-styled "Toxic Trio", comprising an attractive woman and two male admirers were sitting at a small cafe, nursing a previous evening's hangover. We conversed in a mixture of German and English as we were wont to do, though this particular cafe had a definite French vibe going and the proprietress spoke only French.

An older American gentleman entered the cafe and rather loudly ordered coffee and a couple of breakfast rolls. He took a seat in an opposite corner. We continued our own muted conversation, not wishing to give away our identities.

The man finished his coffee and on his way out he paused and, looking at the woman behind the counter, wished her (in English) "Happy Easter!" She gave back a blank stare. The man tried again but, lacking the word for Easter in French, again got nowhere. Now that's where one of the Toxic Trio could have intervened and offered some help. But we sat back, amused.

The man resorted to hand gestures: raising both hands and arms up against his head, he feigned "rabbit ears" and said to the woman: You know, "Easter, Easter Bunny!?" Again she drew a blank. The exasperated man did a little hop, which added nothing to his impression.

Frustrated, the man dropped his secular interpretation and instead extended both arms as if he were a man on a cross.

"Easter, you know, Christ, Jesus Christ!?"

Something about the similarity or universality of those words got through to her, and she finally flashed acknowledgment. The man left, apparently having made his point.

At the exact moment the American left the cafe, a German tourist poked his head in the door and demanded: "Guten Morgen! Haben Sie Espresso?"

The French proprietress just rolled her eyes in acquiescence.

Happy Easter All!

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