the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

French Lesson One

After reading in a tour book that waiters in Paris spit in your food if you don’t know at least a few French phrases, I decided to sit down with my mother and practice the basics of the language together, such as hello, good-bye, please, thank you, etc.    We found a French YouTube video tutorial that taught us the proper protocol when meeting friends in a cafe, even showing us the mandatory French method of kissing of the cheeks.

After we nailed the first lesson, I had an idea for the most gimmicky blog post ever created — what if WE made our own YouTube video teaching French to the other mothers and sons out there visiting Paris together?

The only problem was my mother refused to be in my video.

Neil:  “C’mon, Mom, it will be fun!”

Neil’s Mom:  “No.  If you want to embarrass yourself online, that’s your business.”

Neil:  “Didn’t you once tell me you always want to be an actress?”

Neil’s Mom:  “Yes, but in a Hollywood movie with a young Paul Newman.  Not in some movie you’re shooting with your iPhone.”

That’s cold, right?   Can you see why I have anxiety issues?  But just like I did as an only child growing up with a working mother, I found a way to have fun on my own.

By using a lamp as my co-star.


  1. Amanda

    I think you may be on to something. Keep working on her.

  2. Stephanie

    You’re INSANE. It’s sah-vah. Sah-vah. Vraiment. Hilarious. Please do this, like, twice a week until you leave. Maybe even after you get back.

  3. Jody

    I think the New York accent is getting in the way of the French accent. Hysterical! For some reason the only language I can speak without my southern accent getting in the way is Hebrew. Go figure.

    I agree that you should continue working on getting your Mom in the video – I think it would be sweet than embarassing.

  4. Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    I’ll trade babysitting for French lessons. You watch my kids, they teach you French. Deal? I promise they’re more interesting to talk to than a lampshade and also have the bisou-bisou down pat.

  5. Roxanne

    I feel like I laughed harder than I should have.

  6. Sarah Piazza

    Wheezing over here.

  7. Alexandra

    Looking forward to more tales of you and the lamp.

  8. Jules

    You’re hilarious. I’m glad I found your blog through a friend because I’m going to France in a couple weeks and your lesson will prove invaluable, I’m sure!

  9. GrandeMocha

    That was funny!

  10. The Animated Woman

    The credits were the best. More vlogs please.

  11. Linda Roy - elleroy was here

    I can’t wait to see how you work in the end table.

  12. Marty

    I am a vlog hater, but that was awesome.

  13. Ruth

    I’m SO excited for you. Here are a few more things we learned that might be helpful for you during your trip.
    1. You’ll likely need coins to buy metro tickets from the machines. They supposedly take bills and cards, but ours were not working.
    2. The older metro trains have door handles that you have to turn in order to gain entrance. We missed three trains before we figured this out. Luckily, they come frequently.
    3. It pays to research restaurants in advance. Those quaint cafes that serve fromage and croque monsieurs are EVERYWHERE, and even though cheese and bread are my favorite foods, I began to crave variety.
    4. It bears repeating – SORTIE is exit.

    I can’t wait to see your photos.

  14. Michele aka midlyfemama


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