Papa This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My French father believes the following: anyone who does not speak French speaks the wrong language. His house is a French territory in the heart of Texas and he has a French radius of ten feet surrounding him everywhere he goes. When my father makes these statements, he announces to the world, “I am French, and proud of it.” It is impossible to deny this, or anything else he says: my father is always right. Yes, he belongs to the elite group of those known as engineers - the only perfect human beings in the world.

Going out with Papa is the equivalent of going out with a recently arrived immigrant. Papa does not speak English when we dine out (though he speaks English fluently) and forces us to translate for our waiter. He will speak English if absolutely necessary - to ask about any available foreigner’s discounts at the movies, for example. Then, in the car, my father never knows where any place is despite the seven and a half years he has had to understand directions. Instead of making an effort to learn the streets, he would rather call On-Star to ask for directions home - even when he is only a mile away.

My father does not hold back for anyone, even my friends. They have had the mixed fortune of coming for dinner. While we do eat delicious food, it is nonetheless French, which everyone knows is composed mainly of croissants, crepes and snails. Papa naturally pressures my friends (or anyone who eats with us) to try every item, whether foie gras, smelly cheese, or pigs’ feet. Also, while pressuring them to eat, Papa will probe guests with intimate questions. Without fear, he asks their opinion on the most sensitive topics, from the presidency and war in Iraq, to religious and personal beliefs. This French inquisition is simply Papa’s way of getting to know his guests’ point of view.

Why does my father act so insanely? I can only speculate, but I like to think it’s his grand design to convert people to the French culture. Papa would say everyone ought to be French. He even fantasizes about claiming Lake Texoma as a French territory when out on his sailboat. I guess it could be called patriotism gone overboard.

I have tried to portray my father’s love for France accurately, to capture his true spirit. Papa’s patriotism is for France, his culture, and one cannot help but admire his French tenacity. It takes a strong man to stand fast these days, and an even stronger one if he is French. I do not want anyone left with the impression that my father is an American-hating crazy; all he wants is to take that previously frozen English muffin and replace it with a fresh French baguette.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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