From a Shirt to our President


Yesterday, as my daughter and I were browsing through the racks of expensive leather cowboy boots and jackets in one of the most beautiful boutiques downtown Santa Fe, a woman, clad in sophisticated southwestern clothes, asked me if I was French.

She was not only the obvious owner of the magnificent shop but also French. I’m sure that like me her accent gives her away anytime she opens her mouth. But, I realized in a jolt, I have not uttered a single word.

In a glance, I took in my outfit. My pants came from Banana Republic; my sandals were made in the USA. I bought my T-shirt at Target and my bracelet in California. I accept to be mistaken for an American in France when I wear this exact same outfit. What gave me in Santa Fe?

“It’s your shirt,” the woman said with a big smile, pointing at my light blue cotton shirt that I wore on top of my T-shirt. “I’m French too,” she added. “And I bought the same in France.”

I had forgotten about my shirt. It’s made in cotton, as light as silk, which is something the French know how to do well. “I bought it in France too,” I admitted.

By then we had switched to speaking in French.

“I like the way you wear it,” the woman went on.

I let my shirt wide open, only because I lost a button and didn’t carry any thread and needle to sew it back. I told her so.

“It’s cute,” she said. “I really liked this shirt as soon as I saw it. It was not a cheap one either.”

I only got mine because it was very affordable. “I bought it during the summer sales,” I said with a proud smile.

Oops, I immediately realized, did I become so American that I can shamelessly admit buying expensive shirts only when they are on sale?

But the woman smiled and said,” I’m sorry for jumping on you about being French. But I thought it was funny to see the exact same shirt on someone else. You could only be French.” I smiled back. “Besides,” she added. “We are in America. We can say anything, right?”
I was reminded of her point when at dinner three middle-aged women, who sat near our table, started talking with us when my son ordered the enchiladas one of them had also ordered and loved. From food, the conversation switched to the weather. The women were from Colorado and complained about the unusual hot weather.

“Well,” the most talkative said. “It’s not like Colorado hasn’t been very unusual in the last weeks.”

“Right,” her friend agreed. “First the wild fires. Then the shooting.”

“Imagine,” the first one said. “Obama came twice!”

I noticed she said Obama and not President Obama or at least Mr. Obama.

“Yeah,” her friend agreed with a sigh. “They only come when something bad happens.”

Then, I thought, horrible things must have happened in San Francisco for our President to be there so often recently.

But I kept my thought to myself, and only said that it would indeed be nice to see our Presidents when good things happen.

I’m American to a certain limit.

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