My life is finding its routine here in Rochefort. Now that I’ve begun to teach, there is a regular schedule of class preperation, mental preperation, teaching, repeat. I have a healthy fear of my students – french teenagers seem to radiate the essence of ‘french chic,’ dressed in blacks and greys, skinny jeans, peppered with various facial piercings and of course, cigarette in hand. My english friend Rose has already commented on how I’m overly enthusiastic about everything – how very ‘american’ – and I’m sure that, for better or worse, my french pupils have picked up on this as well. But, if it keeps them intrigued, lovely. I wasn’t prepared to care so much about what my students thought of me, and I wonder if this is a normal reaction for new teachers.
I have also been able to pick up on the natural trends of the cafeteria, and can more or less stragetically plan when I want to chance it and eat my lunch at the school. It turns out, Wednesdays are a bit precarious. In the french school system, there are no classes on Wednesday afternoons. While this means that sometimes there will also be classes on Saturday mornings, this is not the case at the lycee Merleau Ponty. Around lunch time on Wednesdays, the place clears out, it is usual the language assistants and one or two more teachers in the cafeteria. The past Wednesday, as usual, Claire and I made our way to the cafeteria, which was more or less deserted. I grabed the various dishes off the rack, and when it came time choose the entrée, I grabbed a plate with mashed potatoes and meat under a creamy red sauce – I’m not a picky eater and I don’t mind a culinary adventure, so this didn’t worry me. We sit, I grab my utensils, poised to cut into this ambigious meal when Claire looks at me and says “oh? You decided to get the tongue?” I freeze. I look down, and no longer am I looking at shapeless meat, but two tongues, porous and thin, just like my own wagging themselves at me. Let the record show that I tried it, but never again. That memory of those tongues, sitting there, is burned into my brain and it still makes my stomach queasy. Jean-Luc, the P.E. teacher told me that he has a similar memory only it was a long time ago when he was a little boy in the school cafeteria. They slapped down a tray of eight or nine tongues, wiggling at petit Jean-Luc, creating the same impression that they did for me. In fact, it seems most teachers have some horror story concerning cow tongue. Turns out, my other option that day was liver, so I’m not sure that I even got the worse entrée…
p.s. I voted today ☺
Photo: taking a break from writing at the Corderie Royale!