Monday, June 13, 2011

The Yankee Cringe

Antipodean readers will be familiar with the Aussie cringe - that (surely by now defunct) feeling that anything culturally Australian isn't quite up to world standards.

In Atuona, we got to experience the Yankee Cringe.

When we pulled in, we quickly met Yves Marie (?) a nice dad who was sharing a dinghy ride with his seven- and five-year-old girls. He welcomed us, gave us the rundown on Atuona, and invited Elias to the five-year-old's birthday party the next day.

"All the other kids speak French", Yves Marie said. "But that's OK, he'll learn quickly."

When we explained to Elias that there would be a party, with games, he started showing worrying signs of being stereotypically American.

"I'm gonna WIN!" he kept on saying. "What prize do you think they'll give me when I win?"

The next day arrived, and at three thirty I dropped Elias off at Yves Marie and Natasha's cat.

A couple hours later we saw Yves Marie ferrying a dinghy full of kids ashore for the promised games.

Galactic was anchored near the shore, so of course we looked out of the portlights now and then to see how things were going.

What we saw was Yves Marie giving the kids a ball to play with. They played with it until Elias got it - then he kicked it off the breakwater and into the harbor.

Yves Marie climbed down the slimy wet stones of the breakwater to retrieve the ball. He threw it back to the kids - and Elias kicked it back into the water.

"It's hard to think the second time was an accident," I said to Alisa.

This time Natasha, in her chic black dress, climbed down the breakwater to fetch the ball. When she brought it back, Elias was right there, waiting for it. We saw her give Elias a firm Gallic gesture that meant, adult to wayward child, BEGONE!

This is when Alisa rowed in to shore to see if Elias needed to leave the party.

Natasha and Yves Marie were very nice about it, and insisted he stay. But the next day all the little French kids gathered on another boat, right next to us, and Elias wasn't invited. He threw a tantrum that night, and went to bed early, and after his howls died down we listened to the little French 4- and 5- and 6-year-olds playing nicely, far into the night.

Alisa and I had a drink in the cockpit, listening to the little French giggles of delight in the soft tropical night, and shared a Yankee Cringe.
At 6/06/2011 7:11 AM (utc) our position was 10°27.87'S 138°40.16'W

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  1. Hey Louise from Newport Oregon here - We love following your story on the blog as it opens up our little world. That story sounds like little boy versus little girl rather than just rude American. We have lots of friends with girls and our little boy, Sam, sounds very much like Elias.

    Louise, Ben, Sam.

  2. hey guys, lil girl lali likes kicking balls into harbours as well, nothing too serious i would say... i loved the part where elias was quoted as saying"What prize do you think they'll give me when I win?" that is just classic! i had to laugh really hard, althogh i understand that the story ended rather tragic.

    anyway, re-enjoy the marquesas! we had such a good time in tahuata, i remember dancing with the mayor of the southernmost town...

    love from holland

    paul anne lali