Amidst a party in France, World Hum writer Terry Ward leans about tragic news from home. Before that she faces the inevitable question Americans face abroad. Her article France, Interrupted describes the beauty of a lake house near Rodez, France, the taste of wine, and the comforts of home.
“My focus was on a boisterous woman named Marie, a 40-something blonde with the energy of an A-bomb and that quintessential French fashion sense that turns a pair of retro sneakers and a loosely knotted scarf into something otherworldly stylish. She was expounding on the virtues of sipping rosé at this hour of the day, when the sinking sun glows a similar raspberry hue—speaking in French and getting drunker by the minute. I was taking it all in as one big lesson. After all, I was here to learn the language, and what better challenge than to attempt chatting with a local past her limit?
Marie pulled me around the party at the lake house in a rural area in the south of France, introducing me as “the only American I’ve ever liked,” assuring me all the while that she’d encountered plenty of others.
“And who does the American support?” called out a clearly buzzing Biarritz supporter. To which I responded, in my best French accent, “Mais Paris, monsieur,” to a howl of boos.
“No,” he continued, in French, “je veux dire—I mean to say—who did you vote for as your president?”
A hush of anticipation fell over the crowd. I was used to this sort of directness as an American abroad.
“Kerry,” I responded, back in favor with the crowd, though wondering if I should have lied just to stir them up.”