An Eiffel Tower View of La Verne Life

April 8, 2009
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0064All of La Verne might not know this yet, but the city has a handsome, debonaire 21-year-old French man sharing and enjoying our town courtesy of the La Verne Chamber of Commerce.

Pierre Berton, whose gracious hosts are the Cerda family in La Verne, is learning American business, with La Verne Chamber and President Brian McNerney as his chief capitalist instructor. “Lenin bad, J.P. Morgan good,” Brian was overheard telling Pierre.

Even before Pierre arrived in the U.S.A., McNerney was coaching and sending emails to his young protégé on how to get along in California, and, in particular, Los Angeles. “The first English phrase you must learn if you are a true Angeleno,” Brian told Pierre, “is ‘the Celtics suck.’” Fortunately Pierre is both a huge basketball and Koby Bryant fan.

On La Verne soil, Pierre said the phrase, “How are you doing?” baffled him at first, especially the “doing” part. “Why not just, “How are you?” Pierre puzzled. “You know, “Comment tally-vous?”

Berton said he has also been struck by three things.

“The size of your cars and trucks is amazing,” said Pierre, who hails from south east France, about 60 kilometers from Dijon, “You know the famous mustard.” Only Pierre pronounced “mustard,” as if rhymed with leotard. Not “terd” as we Americans like to say it. Upon repeating it aloud many times, I have to admit “tard,” zee way zee French say it, sounds better than our “terd.”

Brian and Pierre bridging the Anglo-Francais culture gap.

Brian and Pierre bridging the Anglo-Francais culture gap.

And what else, my French observer and 21st century Alexis de Tocqueville?

“You have a huge number of fast foods on the road,” Pierre said, referring to our ubiquitous burger, taco, donut and pizza emporia, no doubt.

Anything else, monsieur?

“I can’t get over how everything is so spread out,” Pierre said. Now here the joke was on Pierre. Without a Peugeot or any other automobile to scoot him around town yet (Brian is working on it), Pierre has set out on foot many times to get about. I guess walking is a common practice in France, not a foreign concept, as it is here. In fact, Pierre said he often walked between villages in France.

Anyway, Pierre, perhaps possessed by our April skies, walked from La Verne to Azusa, thinking the USA city with everything in it from A to Z was next door. (Brian keep working on hooking up that car or we may lose Pierre.)

Pierre has aspirations to visit Las Vegas, San Francisco and San Diego, if Brian ever gives the poor kid a day off. Currently, he works 40 hours a week … perhaps Brian is still upset at the French for having the United States take over France’s military commitments in Southeast Asia back in 1954, which helped get us into you know what!).

If Pierre does make it to Vegas, Brian please explain to him that although Las Vegas translates to “the meadows” in Spanish, it is a hardly a lush watering hole, and many of us Americans who have lost money there call it, “Lost Wages.”

So much to learn, so little time to learn it all. But please, La Verne, give Pierre Barton your heartiest welcome and extend as much good old fashioned hospitality to the young man as you possibly can.

We only have one chance to make a first good impression.

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