It was the summer of 1977**. We were in Maine, and my father had volunteered me without my knowledge to baby-sit (or as he more accurately put it, “brat-bash”) two little French kids, Olivier and Thierry, the terrors of the Riviera.
Both parents were marine biologists, and were working at the same lab as Dad that summer. They needed someone to take care of the boys while they were at work. Unbeknownst to me, they had already gone through countless sitters. Part of the problem was their parents’ method of bribing them to behave and being thoroughly inconsistent; part of the problem was the fact that they didn’t speak English. It was a lethal combo, let me tell you.
Unfortunately for me, I had taken French instead of Home Ec when I was in 7th grade. My point was that I already knew how to cook, but I didn’t know how to speak French. Mom and Dad had to persuade the school powers that were to let me, since you weren’t supposed to take a second language until 9th grade. My parents said that if I failed the first semester, I’d go and make Jell-O with everyone else. I got a 97. But I also got Olivier and Thierry.
I was about as enamored with kids then as I am now, so I was less than thrilled with this new assignment, especially when the brattiness became apparent. However, I was mean Mary Poppins with them, and their parents pretty much considered me a miracle worker. They also paid my way to stay with them in Nice the following summer for a return engagement. Score!
Anyway, to reward Olivier and Thierry for breaking most of their bad habits, I took them to see “Star Wars” at the historic Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor. It soon became clear that this was not one of my better ideas, since the afore-mentioned lack of English became an immediate problem. I spent the whole movie explaining what was going on in whispers as they asked “Mais qui est-il?” in their piercing little voices (for some reason, French kids seem to have particularly piercing voices). I still don’t really know what happened in that movie.
I’d have to say my most frequently watched movie is Repo Man. From the Iggy Pop theme to the witty dialogue to the awesome soundtrack and just the craziness of it all, it never fails to charm me, even after 25 years.
*Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the entire US of A who hates driving and cell phones and would only watch “American Idol” or “Dancing with the Stars” if there was a gun to my head. Also I never text anyone, ever.
**A memorable summer for me for many other reasons and other blog posts.