Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Untitled

Everyone in France has a title. Wherever you go, you get called by your title. Bonjour Madame, when I walk into a bakery or shop. It used to be Bonjour Mademoiselle until I started walking in with kids. And crow's feet. So, women are mademoiselle or madame, men are monsieur. In many situations, it's considered impolite to just say bonjour. You've got to add the title.

Husband gets a bonus title because he's a lawyer. Maître, he is called, in formal situations where his profession is known. When we fight, if I'm feeling really bitchy, I'll say oui, Maître, using the Tone. Because it can mean title-used-for-lawyers or it can mean master. You can guess how I mean it.

I actually don't like titles. When people call me madame, I usually turn around to see if there isn't an elderly lady standing behind me. There never is. It took me months, but I actually got the Madame taken off of all my bank stuff. Before, without ever having asked for it, it was on my checks, my bank cards, and, of course, all the mail they ever sent me. I wasn't being difficult or picky, really, I just didn't feel like Madame. What does my marital status have to do with anything? Why should that information have to be acknowledged at the beginning of every greeting and conversation, however brief? I'm making a small deal out of nothing, it doesn't really mean that to them, it's just one of those linguistic chunks that is more ritual than meaningful. Anyway, as quickly as is politely possible, I switch to a first name basis, which eliminates all the madaming and monsieuring.

By the way, I got a job. Which is fine. Really. For a several hours a week, I will have to go by my official work title, Madame (fill in with my last name, not husband's -ha! that's a whole other post) and not my current (and very overused) title. MMMMAAAAAMMMMMAAAA!

9 comments:

christi said...

is this your french expression of a midlife crisis? ;)


whats the job? and, i'd bet any money that olivier is watching france play right now!

Nicole said...

Christi - Huh?
Job's teaching English to undergrad business students. Husband, poor, poor husband is actually on a train right now. And not happy about it.

christi said...

oh gosh, i am sure he is freakin out. my bro's glued to the tv.


and my first comment was just a nice way of giving you crap about getting old... :)

Nicole said...

Tom - you're the last to leave a comment because you work too much or because the rest of us have terrible work ethics.

Beth - when's your due date?

beth said...

I understand. When I am called Mrs. or anything of the sort, I also look behind me to see who the aged Mrs. is. . .so far, it's always been me. I don't have the crows feet, I have the inherited crease in between the eyebrows. I just don't get the entire "title" thing - but maybe that's the American in me. I like you, do love the title "mama"! Congratulations of the job - I'm sure you'll be a success. I am due in the next 2 1/2 weeks and I don't think this baby is going to wait for it's due date. My stomach is so low, it's practically touching my thighs. Yes, isnt' that a pretty visual.

julie said...

What is your job Ms Nicole? My daughter has not had one teacher who she has called by her last name. I don't think she understands the concept. It is always teacher "first name"

charlie said...

'walking in with crow's feet' - bwahahahahahahahahaha

Grish said...

I sometimes wish I didn't have a job. Until the end of the month anyways, then I'm very gratefull. :)

Wifey said...

I always felt like I was the owner of a brothel or something when people called me Madame. Plus, when I lived in France it was in such a small town that the day after the civil ceremony everyone in the town switched from Mademoiselle to Madame - because somehow everyone knew when the "yankee" was marrying one of their own. I remember the first couple of times when I'd be in a post office or something and people would come in and loudly announce "Bonjour messieurs/dames!" I always thought the person was a little nutty - but then it happened pretty much every time so I got used to it. However, when we moved to a big city (Toulouse) nobody did that anymore so I ended up liking the titles.