One of my favorite places to visit is the sprawling FNAC book and media store on the mezzanine level at Metro stop Le Châtelet-Les Halles. The young after-work crowd was shoulder to shoulder browsing the stacks and bustling about the underground mall. Transported down a river of Parisiens, I searched for an eddy to eavesdrop and take the pulse of the citoyens. I began to notice tall Francophone Africans buttonholing people or hi-fiving shoppers. Curiosity spured me to sidle up close to one of these encounters. Islam, mon frère! Islam, yahwu'allah! On est solidaire--Islam! Islam les amis! Ma soeur, n'oublie pas que l'Islam te protège. I was floored! The Base in fine form right there at FNAC!
Last week I took some time off and flew to north Florida to log a few days of summer beachtime. As you might think, there were a number of white Anglo-Saxon southern American types--guys with white shirts and briefcases and willowy, well-heeled southern blondes hailing from burgs like Knoxville or Savannah. As I relaxed, I found myself within earshot of the pair in front of me.
He. twang/ Hello! /twang
She. twang/Why, hello! Hawr yew t'day? /twang
The pair note their common patois and acknowledge their shared Dixie-ness, so they can get right down to the nitty-gritty after some short, preliminary banter. Time to test the waters!
He: I send my kids to a Christian academy.
She: Oh, me too! Knoxville has some great Christian schools!
He: I thank the Lord; I'm blessed.
She: The Lord has been good to me...I'm a mother of three! And my husband is a blessing, too!
Then they get into some righteous preacher-family-Christian
-evangelical-megachurchin', blessin' and back-pattin'. Not at all unlike...the French-speaking Muslims at Les Halles.