THE FRENCH CONNECTION
The 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.
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
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
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