Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A father's letter to his daughter, complaining of her frothy French husband

Dear Polly,

This is to let you know that there has been some conflict between me and your recent French husband, Mr. La Bonnet. You no doubt are already familiar with my feelings towards Arnaud La Bonnet, in that I’ve always regarded him as having a frothy and most frivolous disposition, rather unsuited to the state of marriage. Yet up until now I resigned myself to your husband---for I respect your claim to love him exceedingly; even though you admit that he has certain flaws, which result from his general frothiness.

So I inform you of a certain vexatious development that has dissolved the uneasy truce that existed between us. It turns out that lately my Gallic son-in-law has refused to communicate in the English language, insisting on speaking only French with me. He excuses his behavior by saying that he is merely trying to help me improve my own French. Indeed my French has always been rather imperfect, and I struggle mightily both in understanding Mr. La Bonnet and in communicating my ideas to him in his native language. I know that your own French is superior to mine, so you are better prepared, if I may say so, to put up with his rudeness.

I want to relate to you one recent conversation that I had with Mr. La Bonnet---and you will immediately see how stupefying it is. I will relate this conversation in my imperfect French, for which I must heartily beg your pardon in advance, but I do this in order that you may more convincingly perceive the real nature of this painful affair.

Last Saturday, Mr. La Bonnet entered the kitchen, where I had been peacefully reading the New York Times, and he uttered the following harsh sounds—

“Vieil homme, tu ne vois pas qu'il y ait un fou sans-abri dans le hall de notre immeuble? Vite, aidez-moi le virer. " 

Ruffled though I was, I responded to his barbarity in the following manner, "Laissez-moi tranquille, il ne dérange personne. Tu es la plus grande nuisance dans ma vie." 

"Fils de pute diable, vous êtes laid comme ta femme," and Arnaud stormed out the door. 

Perhaps you can see, my daughter, why I can only provide you with a short sample of this conversation; lest I say something that is inappropriate for a lady’s ears. Yet surely you can understand the purport of the conversation. Mr. La Bonnet has clearly forgotten what belongs to him, for he has ventured to insult my honor. And still he continues to communicate to me in his native language. 

You must again excuse the imperfect way in which I render our conversations in French. I realize that, no matter how much I desire to preserve your ears from shock, I still risk the chance of mortifying your sensibilities in continuing to relate these conversations to you. But you are a grown woman, and I trust that you can handle hearing about this crudeness. And here you have a similar conversation that occurred between me and Arnaud yesterday. 

Again Mr. Bonnet came in and disturbed my rest, “Hé, le gros, avez-vous vu la poêle à frire? Je dis, je ne peux pas trouver la fichue chose partout." 

"Je n'ai pas vu votre poêle à frire. Laissez-moi tranquille et obtenir une coupe de cheveux, vous hippie."

"L'homme dont vous avez besoin pour se détendre," this being the last thing he said before storming out.

And there you have another outburst from Mr. La Bonnet, which indeed shocked my sensibilities. I command, therefore, that you to speak to your husband immediately, and, using your feminine charm, instill in him the need to speak the Queen’s English, at least when in my company. I simply refuse to put up with anything less. I am no fool---I know that Mr. Bonnet can both speak and write Her Majesty’s English. And if it turns out that he is not confident in his ability to communicate in our language, I pray that you suggest to him that he enroll in an English language class at a community college. And until my wishes are satisfied, I will remain 

                                                                                                       Your injured father

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