“Fermé la bouche.”
Mom was forever telling us kids to stop saying “shut up” and “oh my God.” So, one of us nine girls must have found a secret French connection and “fermé la bouche” was born. Before you knew it, no one was yelling “shut up” any more.
Of course, this was long before siri, the internet, or iphone translator apps. Clearly, this was not listed under “F” in our Webster’s Dictionary and even more disturbing, it was nowhere to be found in our edition of Funk and Wagnalls. So, no one really knew what it meant. Except her, the sister who ‘knew’ French. I thought it sounded suspiciously like a feminine hygiene product. But no one would address that concern.
“Fermé la bouche.”
She loved the way it rolled off her tongue and gave strength to her meaning. Whatever it was. It made her believe in her own authority. Soon, we all needed to try it and feel for ourselves, the power of a foreign tongue. We said it hard and fast. We said it slow and soft. We declared war with it and laid our dollies to sleep with it. We stressed every conceivable syllable with as many intonations. There was a lot of “fermé la bouche”-ing going on.
At some point, I tired of her puff-uppery and listening to her “fermé la bouche” this and “fermé la bouche” that. She had met her résistance. “Shut up!” I yelled, among other things. She swore to God I’d go to hell for calling her a “fool” (but …”you are”… I added.) “Don’t fools go to hell too?” If only I had known how to say it properly… “Les imbéciles ne vont-ils pas à l'enfer aussi?”
I knew she knew the Bible about as well as she knew French. So, I put my sword down and picked up my pen instead. Én garde.
Funny, … to this day… she wields a gavel and I, a pen. C’est la vie.
And this below, just for the sheer fun of it!!
I'm joining friends at d’Verse poetry.com for the Poetics prompton Foreign Tongues. Truly, this started out as a poem and then it ran away from me, so I let it go. My apologies for breaking the rules this time. = )
(and… Sara, if you read this… you’ll know I took a few liberties.“Fermé la bouche.” = )