Madame Nutt was my French teacher. We all loved her and the class. When I walked into that classroom everyday, I was no longer boring Talya Tate. I was Brigette. Madame Nutt gave each of us a French name. This would undoubtedly help us master the language and be one with the culture. I adored my name. So French! Brigette Tate. Like Brigette Bardot. Ooo-la-la! It had a certain je ne sais quoi to it, as if my mother may have been a French socialite and my father a handsome Englishman. In my imaginary perfect French existence, they met on holiday in Toulouse, fell madly in love and lived happily ever after. In reality, they were high school sweethearts from Keiser, Arkansas. She was the daughter of a cotton farmer, and he worked his way through college shooting pool. They married, had a baby girl, and thought up the strangest name to ever come out of Mississippi County in 1962 – – – Talya. Beer may have been involved.
|Brigette, Georgine and Suzette
Rivercrest H.S. 1978
“Embrassez-moi je parle français”
French class knocked me down a notch. It was my first ever class that wasn’t easy. It came with homework and included practice labs. For heaven sakes, it wasn’t even taught in English! I learned pronto that I would never speak French. I was not good at it. No matter how much I repeated “Où est la bibliothèque?” wearing those awkward headphones that messed up my feathered wings, I was NOT going to be Brigette, and I would never find the bibliothèque speaking this clumsy language! I knew that I would not receive the French award at the year end assembly. And the thing is, my mother made no assurance to the contrary – no efforts to boost my fragile ego – nor did she march up to the school in protest, demanding each classmate receive at least a participation certificate. Oh Non. It was a fact of life. Some people are better at certain things than others. Some people are just meant to speak Arkansan, with a touch of sarcasm. And that’s ok. This is how we should teach our children. It’s the good old-fashioned way to bring up bébé.
Growing up, we ate what was served, and it was never pizza. It was cooked at home and sometimes grown in our garden. We actually liked what was served. Except on liver night – that was our only night to opt out. Today’s kids negotiate, holding their breath until they receive chicken nuggets, french fries and diet Coke. Do we really think diet Coke is a good choice for kids with developing growth plates? My husband nearly killed himself one night running all around Dallas trying to get the exact freaking fast food demanded for a 5th grade sleepover. One kid would only eat hamburgers from Burger King, and one would eat pizza but only cheese and only from Pizza Hut, not Pizza Inn. I’m sure these 5th graders have a closet full of soccer trophies in their dorm rooms.
Patti LaBelle, “Lady Marmalade” 🙂