French everywhere

On the el yesterday, I made eye contact with a woman who seemed so much like me but twenty years older. She wore headphones, and maybe our eyes were the same distance apart and we had the same color hair, but mostly it was fleeting recognition: we are both weirdos in transit from one place to another.

At the next stop two women sat across from each other speaking French. They were both older, maybe 60s, with stylish short haircuts and the breezy, elegant air and bright, pretty clothes of people on vacation. My doppelganger started asking them questions in French. Bad French. French with a Midwestern accent. Which, as we’ve discussed, is what I learned in high school. So I understood every word. Where are you from? Where are you going? Oh, your son lives here? Is he in school?

Their conversation carried on and it turns out my doppelganger had lived in Paris for twelve years. Deux années? Non, douze années. The French women hurried off cheerfully a few stops later. Another woman sitting kitty-corner who’d been reading a paperback looked up and started talking to my doppelganger.

-I took French you know.

-Ah, oui?

And the conversation continued until my doppelganger slung her purse over her shoulder and waved goodbye at the next stop. I watched her leave, and the woman with the paperback went back to her pages, and I sat there for a second and looked around. France had snuck up on me and snuck off again, just that easy.

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