Most people who lived abroad have some story involving a cultural or linguistic blunder. Like, someone who tried to say they were full after having eaten a filling meal but instead announced to their host family that they were pregnant. Or someone who tried to say they were excited and didn’t realize that what they said meant they were sexually excited. Well friends, I finally have my own story. Hooray? If you read my New Year’s post, you knew that one of my resolutions is to sail a rubber duck down the esplanade in Nîmes. Well, the problem is, I didn’t know where to find a rubber duck in France. I haven’t seen any in the typical places you’d look in the US (grocery store, pharmacy…). Therefore, I asked just about every French person I know in Nîmes where I could find a rubber duck. Often, I got a weird look or people started laughing and no one would tell me why. I mean, it’s just a rubber duck, right? A children’s toy, what’s so funny about that? Or is that why it’s funny? I finally asked one of the teachers at Hemingway about it. Turns out, rubber ducks are apparently the sex toy of choice for ladies in France. Add to this that I asked right before Valentine’s Day and the teacher had just asked me whether or not I had a boyfriend. Seems rather unwieldy to me, but now excuse me while I go bury my face in shame.
So where can one find a rubber duck? The advice seems to be to go to a toy store. No, not THAT kind of toy store (although apparently one might have luck there too). However, V gave me a rubber duck for my birthday (more on my birthday to come, holy fluffernutters am I behind on posts), so I’m all set now. I believe she found it in Nature et Découvertes. She had to specify to the salesperson that she wanted a rubber duck “for a child” and even then the salesperson seemed suspicious.
I may never be able to see this the same way again. Goodbye childhood innocence. Goodbye.
So tell me. What embarrassing cultural and linguistic blunders have you made?