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by Eva Pasco 

The French Connection by Eva PascoThe Sixties cinematic movement, Novelle Vague, produced movies characterized by slow plot lines, strong character development, and deviated from happy or conclusive endings.  This New Wave rippled across the Atlantic to the United States, giving rise to The French Connection.  Legendary stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Simone Signoret, and Catherine Deneuve flitted across our screens, such that we acquired a thirst for, touche, all things French. 


During the Sixties decade "The Singing Nun," aka Jeanine Deckers/Sister Luc-Gabrielle self-penned "Dominique," a no. 1 hit single in 1963.  "Chanson d'Amour" written by Wayne Shanklin surged in popularity when released as a single by The Lettermen in 1966. Let's not forget we also had "C'est Si Bon" to kick around. More than likely most of us were caught up in the British Invasion and had nothing to do with accruing record sales for the aforementioned crepes Suzette.


My own French Connection occured last period of my junior year at Lincoln Senior High--French III with Miss Bouquet (not her real name, of course).  Though I could roll my gutteral r's and sound as though a clothespin pinched my nose when I spoke fluent French, the language did not  make the French Connection for me or for the rest of Miss Bouquet's starry-eyed pupils. It was Mademoiselle Bouquet herself--tall, willowy, vivacious, and tres chic.


Miss Bouquet never failed to make a grande dame entrance into her classroom, fashionably late, seconds after the late bell rang. The girls and I in the fifth row by the wall attributed this habitual tardiness to the smoke she finished during her free period.  Miss Bouquet's signature wardrobe consisted of mini skirts which showed off thin shapely legs, chunky shoes, and white tailored or ruffled blouses liberally unbuttoned to reveal a long slender neck.  She casually secured her brown hair with a big bow or scarf.  The first raspy words uttered through discreet gum chewing were invariably "Bonjour, mes eleves," before she instructed her students in French culture and honed our speaking and writing skills.  During lessons, our teacher had the habit of pushing oversized black-framed glasses up along the bridge of her nose as she surveyed the class to maintain discipline. Not even one of the mouthiest among us gave her cause for concern because she'd brandish a 3x5 pink slip, threatening with enrollment in the after school club.   


Miss Bouquet made it seem hip for juniors to serenade classrooms throughout the high school singing Christmas carols in French.  Late winter she arranged for our class to have a bon appetit repast in Boston.   We elegantly dined at Madame DuBarry's, conversing in French with our waiter who brought us entrees such as coq au vin and beef bourguignon.  


Since Miss Bouquet translated as cosmopolitan, we girls ruled out a possible liaison with any of the eligible bachelors among the faculty.  E-w-w-w!   We preferred to envision her romantically linked with someone sensuous and avant-garde as Roger Vadim.  One day when Miss Bouquet breezed into the classroom, she stood with her arms folded, flashed one of her Cheshire grins, and tantalized us with an invitation to Rome during the week of April vacation. Her friend in the Rome consulate drew up an itinerary.  Could this be Miss Bouquet's secret beau, we wondered?


On cloud nine, I brought all the necessary paperwork home and convinced my mother to let me go.  Sadly, the trip never got off the ground.  By chance, I happened to run into Miss Bouquet at the De Louise Bakery when I was a college freshman earning my Bachelor of Science degree. We spoke briefly and she wished me luck in my teaching career before exiting the bakery with a box of pastries…an inconclusive Nouvelle Vague ending for The French Connection. 


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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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