Editor’s Note: Apologies to those who read this in 2016 or previous times I posted it. I continue to return to these paragraphs because the pandemic has driven me to seek ways to return to normalcy. One of them is by creating a weekend. It’s French!
A benefit of an American lifestyle is having the occasional weekend off.
Yet the weekend is more French than American – le weekend!
In June 1977, over two weekends, I was in France with the French military. Those days imprinted the meaning of “weekend” on me.
My guide for the exchange officer experience was an infantry marine platoon commander stationed at Vannes. The unit was on alert to deploy to Djibouti, which had recently declared its independence from France. If there was trouble in the transition, my unit would head there.
Upon arrival at the train station Friday afternoon, my escort took me straight to the officer’s club. I drank too many pastis before attending a reception in my honor. No one told me about the reception until several pastis had passed my lips. The non-commissioned officers lined up one aperitif after another in front of me with glee. Too drunk to be embarrassed, when someone mentioned the reception, I decided to leave the remaining drinks on the table, sober up, and listen and learn about the culture.
I practiced my French and mustered a dim comment about the Concorde, which was still new, at the reception. Because of the alcohol it was the best I could do. I’m not sure I made a positive impression.
In homes and apartments in which I lived, I did as French people did. Weekends continue to be French in Big Grove, although with much less alcohol and no drunkenness. God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.