My Name is Bond. Jane Bond.
This month has been ridiculous. We took a little 5-day vacation to Morocco in North Africa, which I will tell you about in the next post, but, before I go into that craziness, I have to catch y’all up on what occurred in just the last two weeks. Five days ago, my niece, who lives right outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had a baby, which makes me a Great Aunt. Somehow, that sounds older than GoGo, the charming name that my grandchildren call me.
Me: Mr. Big! She just had the baby! You are now a Great Uncle! Look, look, here is her picture on Facebook!
Mr. Big: I’m a what?
Mr. Big: Is that really such a thing? Great Uncle? I think you are making that up.
Unfortunately for Mr. Big, no one in his family ever lives long enough to attain the status of Great Uncle. He has really bad genes, ergo, he had never even heard of the term. How sad is that? In my family, we have awesome genes, (plus, we procreate early and often), and we have gazillions of family photos of 5 generations and, occasionally, six. Generations. It’s true. Nothing kills us. Nothing. My relatives live, routinely, into their hundreds. If you die before you are 100 in my family, you are letting down the side. We say things like “oh, such a pity. Cut short in her prime at 91. So sad.”
So, I became a Great Aunt to a little princess named Harper and my little sister became a Grandmother, which just cracks me up. You just wait, all you young people reading this. It is a very big deal—these are real milestones, not unlike turning 21 or getting arrested for the first time or buying your first house or whatever. You think your rites of passage are all behind you? Think again. Someday you will achieve “Great” status and it is a mind-blowing thing. And, if you are very lucky and you are borne of good genes, you will achieve “Great, Great” status and then you are really cooking with gas.
Please try to picture my husband at a Gaga venue. Oh, wait, first try to picture a bunch of Swiss people at a Gaga venue. Yawn. Gaga kept yelling at the audience to “get off your &^%$ing asses! This is not a $#@%ing funeral!” The Swiss don’t dance much and the only singing they do in public is to the accompaniment of alpenhorns and cow bells, so it was just hysterical watching them force themselves into having a good time.
Furthermore, and may God strike me dead if I’m lyin’, but the ticket-takers hand out earplugs to everyone as they enter the concert. It’s true. I saved mine. Concerts are too loud for delicate Swiss ears, hence ear plugs. I wonder if Gaga knows they did that?
What else? Well, I went back to French school after the summer break. They put me in an advanced class with a bunch of people who already speak French. I think I’m going to quit. Seriously. After the first session, I went to my teacher and told her that she was sorely mistaken if she thought I belonged in that class. She was very reassuring and tried to tell me that that was, indeed, where I belonged.
Ooh, I promise you, Teach. I do not belong here. These people can speak for 15 minutes in French, non-stop. These people are not trying to translate every word from another language before they say it. They are just, uh, talking. I cannot do that. I do not know what I have done to mislead you, Teach, but trust me. You need to GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE. These people are scary good!
So, I was going last and the new girl was going to second to last. I was COMPLETELY not paying attention to what anybody else was saying because I was silently practicing what I was going to say when my turn came around. New girl starts talking and about half way through her dissertation, I hear the word “Iran” which catapults me right out of my fugue state. Wait, what? You are from Iran, new girl? Then, of course, I was kicking myself for not paying better attention. Was she new here in Switzerland? Why was she here? Good God, she could be anything! A journalist, the ambassador’s daughter, a spy, a housewife, a spy posing as a housewife, anything. Anything at all.
My mind was awhirl. Am I giving away state secrets if I talk about the dysfunctionality of America’s school system? Keep in mind that I am the only American in the room. In fact, I am the only person in the room with English as a mother tongue. I quickly change the course of my oral dissertation and tell the class, in French, bien sur, that the only problem with the American school system is in trying to assure that ALL students, regardless of their background, ability or gender, are afforded an equal opportunity to pursue the highest degree of education that they want to achieve. In fact, that the American school system is second to none.