Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vive Le Dave Barry!

Dave Barry is one of my favorite columnists and he has been for a long time. I came to know Dave when I was living in France because in Chambery I would crave English. Everything around me was French…24/7 it was French, French, French! The audacity, right?

I never became totally fluent in French. I could hold my own in the most simple of conversations, and I could understand much better than I could speak, and I always appreciated the pure beauty of the language. While I always prided myself on my French accent – my ability to force all of my vowels through my nose and to swallow and growl out my “r”s like I was choking on them - one of my French friends called my accent “charming”. When pressed, he elaborated that is sounded “Country French” . So all I could envision was me sounding like one of the regulars on Hee Haw as I asked, “Ou est la biblioteque, c’il vous plait?”

One of the benefits of living for an extended period of time in another country is the total immersion into the culture. But it was always work. Always having to figure out what someone said, or figure out what you were reading, or know how to respond. Casual conversation just didn’t exist for me during that time…it was always an effort. And mostly I enjoyed the experience because it was almost surreal in some ways. It’s amazing how well you can really communicate with another person even if you don’t know their words.

This is how I came to love Dave Barry. Because once a week, on Sunday mornings, a little tobacco shop in Chambery would get in about 10 copies of the Miami Herald. Not the New York Times or the Washington Post, but the Miami Herald. I would get to that little shop every Sunday morning early enough to get one of the copies and I would read it from cover to cover because it was EASY to read. It was in English. It gave me some news of home in a language that I could understand.

Dave Barry works for the Miami Herald, and while his column is nationally syndicated, I felt like I knew him better given that I was reading his words from his hometown rag.

His humor always strikes a chord with me. I’m in awe that humorists can so consistently write such funny stuff without ever having to dumb it down or resort to cheap or easy laughs.

So one of my favorite memories of living in France are of Sunday mornings when I would sit outside of the café in the Chambery square where the buildings dated back to the 1500s, eating my pastry, drinking a coffee (I love how Europeans add quantifiers like “a” when speaking of their beverage) and reading Dave Barry in the Miami Herald.

Oh, I read a French newspaper on a daily basis but was never 100% sure of what I was reading and the effort it took with me and my French dictionary was exhausting. But not on Sundays.

I thought of all of this today as I was reading Dave’s column, “Magical Miami still entices Super Bowl visitors”. It’s just a really funny look at Miami, his hometown, and what visitors should expect. He takes some hilarious digs at the Congressman from Colorado who referred to Miami as a Third World country, but ultimately he leads you to believe that it is indeed a very similar experience.

Here are some of Dave’s lines that made me laugh out loud:

Chances are you’ll arrive – lucky you! – at Miami International Airport. There you will find a spacious, modern, convenient, well-designed, passenger-friendly, state-of-the-art facility depicted on murals showing what the airport allegedly will look like if they ever finish it. This is unlikely to happen in the current century because the airport is under the control of Miami-Dade politicians…I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, and for that entire time, the airport has been under construction, with almost all of the visible progress taking the form of larger and better murals.

Dave talks about a number of Miami’s attractions including:

Hot women. They are everywhere down here…When male friends of mine come to Miami from other cities, they constantly must drop to their knees and feel around with their hands to locate their eyeballs, which have ejected themselves from their sockets in an effort to get a better gander.

Chuckling along to Dave Barry on this Super Bowl Sunday has been fun and I’m now craving a warm croissant and a strong coffee with sugar.

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  • At 2/04/2007 , Blogger Anna said...

    I used to love Dave Barry too. And one day, when I was in middle school I think... I wrote him a letter. And he called me on the phone. Dave. Barry. called. ME. MEEEEEE!!!! He encouraged me to write more and said he appreciated my letter. I'm not sure I said anything very coherent and was mortified when my mother would not hang up the other line and kept saying things like "you should write about her" and "she's a great writer" and "you should publish what she writes." Never heard from him again. But he did call me.

  • At 2/05/2007 , Blogger Anna said...

    Umm... I need to go back to Beth's embarrassing moments forums. Because it wasn't Dave Barry... it was Bob Greene. Which would explain more why I was so much younger then. Still a cool story for ME, but it had nothing to do with THIS story. *sigh* I need more sleep.

  • At 2/05/2007 , Blogger Lori said...

    Anna, this is hilarious. I'm a fan of Bob Greene's, as well, so I think it's awesome that he called you. And there's nothing quite like having mom on the other end of your phone conversation...oh yeah.


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