mercredi 27 octobre 2010

N is for 'Non'

N is for ‘Non’

J’ai fait chou blanc — I drew a blank

Perhaps it’s the extra letter, but somehow ‘non’ always seems so much more final than ‘no’. “May we use these perfectly valid vouchers to get 10 centimes off six bottles of Badoit?” “Non.” “Can I have chips instead of boiled potatoes?” “Non.” “We’re a bit early. Can we have a cup of coffee while waiting for our friends?” “Non.” “It’s a lovely day, can we eat on the terrace?” “Non.” Occasionally, the ‘non’ will be accompanied by a “Je suis désolé” [I’m really sorry], but don’t count on it.

The other day we were in McDonalds. (I know, but sometimes you crave some junk food.) We ordered our ‘meal deals’. I asked for diet coke, and Gavin asked for coffee. “Non,” said the girl behind the counter. Thinking she hadn’t understood us, Gavin explained that he would like a coffee with his meal rather than a cold drink. Non. The offer came with a cold drink, coffee was a hot drink, therefore he couldn’t have it. He asked whether he could just buy a separate cup of coffee instead of having the proffered drink. Non.

Luckily at that moment the manager appeared. The girl asked him to explain the coffee conundrum to us in English to ensure we understood the gravity of the situation. The manager, a man of infinite good sense, but possibly not of French origin, just looked at us and told the girl to give Gavin his coffee. Oui

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