Lost Cause

June 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is how I know that my life is sad.

Last night, my mom called me into her room to tell me something. “I just got off the phone with my old college friend,” she began. “She lives in Montreal; we visited her family once a long time ago, remember?” How could I forget? Even though it was more than a decade ago, I still remember the long car ride with my new Walkman [listening to Shania Twain], and living with the family above their little shop, from which I was free to take whatever candy I wanted.

“Now they own a motel and a restaurant,” my mother continued. “I asked her if she needed anybody to work for her during the summer.”
“You’re going to send me all the way to Canada?!” I yelped.
“It would be a good opportunity for you to practice your French,” she responded blithely, as if she had simply suggested that I go check the mail. I’m sure what she actually meant was, “I can’t stand to see you doing nothing but lounging around the house all day because you don’t have a job! I’m sick of seeing your useless face!”

I stood motionless in her doorway as my brain cast about haplessly for the most tactful way to refuse.

“Do you think your French is good enough for you to waitress? They just happen to have an opening because one of their employees is having surgery,” my mother said. I thought for a minute about my lack of participation in every French class I’ve ever taken, my self-consciousness about my bad accent, and the difficulty I have understanding the language when spoken at a normal, conversational speed.

“No…” I replied. “Don’t you think it would be easier for them to, you know, hire an actual Canadian?” In my mind I wondered about the exchange rate between Canadian and American currency.
“Well of course it would be!” she laughed. “With the economy the way it is, everybody is looking for a job.” She then proceeded to tell me about how we were planning to drive to Canada en route to Boston for a mini-vacation this summer, but with my father’s work schedule we’d probably have to push it back to mid-July, and ended with a resigned, “But you probably won’t be able to work for them.”

“Thanks anyway, mom,” I answered as I walked back to my room.

I turn 20 today. What have I accomplished in these two decades of life? Absolutely nothing.

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