Le Tone Françoise

“Oh, no!” PP laughs as she reaches across to open her locker. “Here we are all in the same corner when the whole locker room is empty. This always happens, doesn’t it?”
Sexy French Swimmer shrugs, moves her stuff aside. “It is not a problem,” she murmurs philosophically.
“Guess it is a good spot,” PP continues as she pulls her clothes out and starts to lotion up.

“The water today....” SFS sighs. “It was very nice, don’t you think? The temperature. It was good, no?”
Actually, PP thought it was a bit on the chilly side, but then she always does. No need to interfere with someone else’s Swimmer’s Bliss. So she lies: “Oh, yes, it was lovely.”

“And the pool, it was not crowded,” SFW continues in her dreamy sexy accent.
“Yeah, at first, when I got here, there was someone in every lane, but it worked out okay,” PP nods. “We got our own lanes even with the Rusty Hinges taking up 2 of them.”

“The other day!” SFS suddenly exclaims, her Bliss vanishing. “You would not believe it!” If Incensed were personified, SFS would be IT. “I go to get into a lane to share with this woman and she stops and you know what she say to me?”

PP starts to answer, but there’s no pause: Rhetorical French Narrative at work. “She say: ‘Don’t you want to go to That Other LANE!’ And I say, what do you mean? The other lane! She say again, and she say it like that....'SFS spits out the words, disdain dripping from her. "And I don’t know what she is talking about. When I get in I look around before I take my glasses off and see that all the lanes are full. And then, I take my glasses off and go to get in this woman’s lane and she says this to me: 'DON’T you want to get in THAT lane! It is empty!' She say it like THAT!” SFS repeats again, her pretty nostrils flaring. Really.

PP knows this is serious Lane Sharing Business. Something that they all hate doing, sharing a lane, but then again, it’s the Y and here at Hilltopia, one often gets one's own lane. So to just split a lane, while not ideal, really isn’t so bad compared to some pools.

“Do you know what I mean?” SFS asks PP now. “It was the way that she said it. She could have just said, ‘Oh, do you see? There is a lane empty?' Or she could have said, ‘I think that the lane next is empty. Maybe you would like to swim there? But nooooooo! She says it like THAT!”
“It was her Tone,” PP offers.

“YES!” SFS jumps on this. “It was Her Tone! She did not have to say it like that! I could not see. I take my glasses off to swim and then I can not tell.”

PP nods. Earlier, SFS had gotten in the lane next to PP’s and PP had given her a hearty ‘Hi’ since they often chatted, but SFS had just nodded, barely said ‘Hello’ like she hadn’t recognized her.
Now PP knew why.

“I never woulda thought of that,” PP says now. “I mean about the glasses.”
“Oh!” SFS laughs, shrugs. “That is because you do not wear them.”
“I wear them sometimes, but only for reading,” PP laughs. “I resist them because of the aging.”
SFS shakes her head. “It is not because of the aging,” she says, missing PP’s point entirely? Which is that PP resists the aging process or the idea of it at every turn and breaking down and wearing bifocals is just one of her ways of denial. But maybe SFS is younger than PP? Or the French are just way too cool to worry about such things?

“The glasses are for the Visual,” she asserts. Obviously. Anyone could see this. Why didn't PP?
“Of course,” PP agrees, feeling a bit vain and old. Or is her meaning just lost in translation?

Or is it, again, all about Tone?

Yes, that’s it. The French, like the Italians,(now that PP has spent 3 weeks in Italy, she's an expert--oh and she watches lots of Italian movies too!) are all about Tone. If you want to get across an opinion, you say it with that Certain Tone that will communicate your meaning no matter what the language. Disdain. Joy. Bitterness.

Sophia Loren, in Marriage Italian Style, had no difficulty communicating her bitterness to Marcello Mastroianni. PP got it without the subtitles even. Plus Mastroianni was such a stereotypical Italian Philandering Husband that who needs the exact words when Sophia tells him to F***$$^^? off? She says that with her Tone.

And today, SFS, too, says it with her Tone. Her Tone of disdain for the Stupid Lane Sharing Woman. Her Tone of nonchalance with the aging process. Her Tone of delight when PP asks her her name and then mispronounces it.

“You will not remember it,” she laughs as they run out into the rain, so wonderful after the horrid drought of the last few months.
“But it has a ‘yes’ in it!” PP jokes. “Yes I will remember!”
“See you later, PP!” SFS calls out as she hurries to her car.
And PP can’t help but detect a tone of warmth in her au revoir.


Anonymous said…
I agree with SFS, often tone can be more encouraging or hurtful than the actual words said. Great picture of Sofia!

Glad you got in a swim in the slightly chilly waters of Hilltopia!

Joyce Young said…
"Disdain, Joy, Bitterness..." I love the drama, the French and the Italian! And who is the mysterious Rusty Hinges? I must catch up!

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