Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The troublemaker's face

I walked over to the boys' house to see if they were ready to go to soccer. Jean Claude had them all sitting in the living room and was talking with them about new lockers they were going to install, how to shower properly, and how often they were allowed to change their clothes. I stood at the door, listening in for a minute. Then Jean Claude saw me and immediately stood up and offered me his chair. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck sitting in front of all the boys during one of those meetings! So I refused. He gently chided, "Keziah, don't embarass me. Come sit down. Besides, some of the boys can't see you and they want to be able to see you, right boys?" Those nasty little brats all chimed, "Yes, we want to see you. C'mon, Kez!"

So I ended up sitting in the room with 30 boys staring at me instead of Jean Claude. I'm not the one talking; look at him, not me! So I focused on Jean Claude and pretended like I was deeply interested in what he was saying. (Now that I think about it, what was he saying?) Every time I looked away from Jean Claude, I made eye contact with one of the boys. That was fine unless the boy was Drisk. Whenever I made eye contact with Drisk, we both started laughing. There's something very pompous and overly dramatic about Jean Claude that makes him rather comical, and all it took was a little wink or my mouth twitching for Drisk to know exactly what I was thinking and for the two of us to start silently chortling.

As Jean Claude wrapped up his talk, he announced that he wanted to see a few of the boys privately. "You, you, and ... you," he pointed straight at Drisk. "You have a troublemaker's face. I want to talk to you." Drisk stared back at him, and looked around to see if maybe Jean Claude was indicating someone else. "Me? I'm not a troublemaker." "That's OK. I still want to talk with you." I would have defended Drisk but the truth is, I was laughing so hard that I couldn't talk.

It turned out that Jean Claude never did have that talk with Drisk. Later that evening, I teased Drisk about it, "Troublemaker's face, troublemaker's face!" The poor boy looked honestly concerned as he asked me, "I don't really have a troublemaker's face. Do I, Keziah?" "No, of course you don't. You have a face that makes people laugh." Even before the words were completely out of my mouth, I was waving my hands furiously. "No, no, no! That's not what I mean, Drisk!"

You see, the way to say "A face that makes people laugh" is "Yon figi pou ri". But when you say it fast, it sounds exactly the same as "Yon figi pouri" which means "A rotten face."

"Figi POU RI!" I drew the words out, emphasizing the space in between them. "Yon figi ki fe m ri. Ou pa pouri, Drisk!" You're not rotten! I swear, I don't think that you're rotten!

A flash of understanding and he was laughing again. And then pulling the most ridiculous faces to see how badly he has a "figi pou ri." Pretty badly. I called him "figi pou ri" all week and he loved it.

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