The elevator door “dinged” open on my floor and I stepped in joining a chic-looking older couple. We exchanged smiles (already liked them) as they spoke to each other in their native French. Ah, oui. I’ve heard tales of Leona Helmsley-style snobbery and rudeness, but every French person I’ve met or known practically glowed with jocularity and big heartedness.
These two seemed no exception. Still speaking French and wearing grins, I realized they were pointing at my lower person with their chins. I recognized, “Bon something, bon something!” I looked down—“My shoes?” and lifted a casually dressed foot for confirmation. Oui. Whew. “Bon whatever shoes is in French!” Quick analysis of their hand gestures showed they admired my Chuck Taylor’s lack of laces.
In what I hoped was not the raised voice Dad used to speak to their nanny, Christina (because shouting English makes it easier to understand) years ago, I mentioned my arthritis and pleasure in finding lace-free pull-on Chucks. The elevator stopped, the door “pinged” open, and we parted ways outside the building with smiles of a shared secret and a wave.
I wonder what they make of the Leona Helmsley-style snobbery and rudeness of Washingtonians who won’t return their smiles?