I Am a Picasso Painting

Located in an old building on busy Blvd Sebastopol, my French class is squeezed into a tiny classroom barely large enough to fit eight chairs around a table. The teacher, Sonita (pronounced Sue-nita) is from Martinique and at 24-years-old, she is already an excellent teacher. The other students are working on their third or fourth languages (so I am the slacker) and they are from Germany, Spain, Italy, and the U.S. One woman in the class is a former screenwriter from L.A. who decided at 50 she didn’t want to die without living in Paris so she picked up and moved. Upon arriving here, she checked into a hotel while she looked for an apartment and there she met the man who became her husband—they bought an apartment in Paris and have been married six years. Now she teaches English to Paris businesses.

Lutece Langue

Lutece Langue


The class is challenging and you have to concentrate so hard to keep up that I feel I’m using a part of my brain that has been sitting on the couch and watching Seinfeld reruns for years. Today I learned why waiters look at me like I’m crazy when I order a bottle of water—un boteille du l’eau. I say “uh bo tiya” and the teacher said “uh boo tay.” Very useful information.

When I come downstairs and find gallant e-husband (and b.f.) waiting to take me to lunch and a visit to the Picasso Musuem,I am stuck somewhere between English and French— I can’t think of the proper English or French words for simple things, the strangest feeling.

We walk through the charming Marais neighborhood, known for its pre-revolutionary buildings, to the Picasso Museum. There is no one in line when we arrive so we walk up, buy our tickets and enter.

Keep in mind that my brain is still seized when we enter the museum and a pleasant looking woman greets us with Merci! and I said very cheerfully and loudly “Monsieur!” (instead of Merci!) She looks at me puzzled, shrugs her shoulders and we pass—and I have a fit of laughter and can’t stop long enough to tell my e-husband (and b.f.) what has happened. Someone once told me that if you get into to trouble in France, yell “I mange la fenetre” which means “I eat the window.” People will think you are crazy and give you plenty of room. That is what happened to me at the Picasso museum: yelling monsieur! at a pleasant looking woman and then shaking with laughter as I walked upstairs. People gave me plenty of room.

As I walk past the paintings, they expressed exactly how I felt, nose on arm, head on leg, one eye (disjointed.) I find e-husband (and b.f.) standing in front of Picasso’s The Kiss. “Look,” I say. “There’s you and there’s me,” pointing at the geometric shapes.

The Kiss, Pablo Picasso

The Kiss, Pablo Picasso


E-husband is studying it very seriously and says “Uh oh. I’m not sure what I should do here. I’m pretty sure they have it hanging upside down. Who do you think I should tell?”

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