Mike and I are new grandparents. Alice, our very first grandchild, was six months old when we left on our trip, and I was determined to bring home a keepsake for her that would be something she would treasure into old age. I don't know if I accomplished that, but the shopping experience I had looking for the right gift is something I will remember forever. During the morning's tour, I had spotted a small toy shop that Mike and I returned to later that afternoon. Browsing through the items for sale I spotted a dancing elephant music box. It was perfect! I wound it up and the music was lovely. As I was congratulating myself on being such a stellar shopper, I tipped the music box over to see if the name of the song it played was printed on the bottom. Both elephants hit the floor and skittered away across the shop, bouncing off walls and table legs. Horrified, I looked up to see the owner watching me, arms crossed. I scurried around the shop, gathering up the fallen elephants, amazed that they didn't seem damaged in any way. "I am so sorry!" I told the owner of the shop, hoping he understood English. "I want to buy these." At that point I was so embarrassed I would have bought the elephant music box even if I didn't want it! "Well, at least now you know what it does." the owner replied, in perfect, if heavily accented English. I gave him my biggest smile and nodded. "Yes, that is a very good thing to know. I am buying this for my granddaughter, and it is good to know it is so sturdy." As the shop owner rang up my purchase we began to talk about our families and in the course of that conversation it came up that Mike and I were from Oregon. "Oregon?!" my new friend exclaimed. "My favorite vacation ever I spent driving along the ocean on Highway 1 through Oregon! I have always wanted to go back! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place." Once more the stereotype of the rude Frenchman was gloriously proved wrong.
Later that afternoon, Mike and I found a delightful little cafe for lunch. I had been practicing my 'Bon Jour' all day, and evidently it sounded pretty good by the time we greeted our waitress because she proceeded to begin talking to us in French. Laughing, we explained that we knew hardly any French and she obligingly continued in English. I was pretty proud of myself for getting the accent down, but as we stood to go I blew it completely. Looking straight at the waitress, a huge grin on my face, I chirped a cheery "Bon jour!" and waved good-bye. The waitress just laughed and shook her head. "Au revoir!" she replied. Of course. In the heady thrill of feeling like I was getting the hang of things, I had just told someone hello when I meant good-bye.