Dialogue with a Girl Who Sings in French

Winter came early this year. The first flurries of snow fell in mid October and Canada sent a chill wind down the Hudson.

At Monty's Korner, Zak finished his beer then ordered another. He turned on his stool to listen to a thin girl singing "La Vie en Rose" on the karaoke. A strange choice. He watched as the barman set his beer down. There were only a few people in the bar at this time, people like Zak who had no job and little else to do. The little singer was pretty, not beautiful but she had something about her that made him keep looking.

The song ended and Zak clapped. She hadn't sung it well, but she had given it everything she had. The other people in the bar were engrossed in nothing in particular but ignored the girl. She came over to the bar and ordered a diet Seven Up. The girl was pale, almost transparent Zak thought. Her red shoulder length hair was cut unevenly, and she sported one of those turned up noses you only see in Disney movies. She wore fade black jeans, scuffed cowboy boots and a short, woolen bolero jacket that seemed expensive and so out of character.

Zak said nothing but made no attempt to conceal the fact that he was staring at her.

"I'm not going to sleep with you, mister." Zak laughed.

"Sorry, I was staring. Bad habit."

"You're not from round here are you? You don't speak like you were born here."

"No, I'm from Oregon. Place called Winter Falls. You heard of it."

She shook her head.

You're a long way from home. Does it?"

Zak looked perplexed.


"Does it fall? Winter. Winter Falls."

"Oh, right. Well it comes along every so often. Snows real bad sometimes we're cut off for weeks."

"I'd like that. To be cut off. Roaring fires, snuggling up on the couch."

"Romantic, uh."

"I'm not a hooker or anything like that."

"That's ok. I never thought th That song. You sang it well."

"No, I didn't. I crucified it."

Zak moved over to where she sat.

"Well, I wouldn't say that I've heard worse, a lot worse." He held out his hand. "Zak Cook.!"

She took a sip of her drink and looked at his smiling face.

"Amy Thoms. Sorry I don't shake hands on a first date."

It was his turn to laugh.

"You speak French?" he asked turning his head to the stage area. Another singer was up now, murdering Dolly Parton.

"No, but I only sing in French. I love Edith Piaf. Do you like her?"

"I'm sorry, I've never heard of her although I do know that song. Is she famous?"

The girl looked at Zak with a look that told him his education was lacking.

"Just a little, although mostly in Europe. Don't they have music up in Oregon. She's dead by the way, in case you're thinking of buying tickets for a concert. Do you speak French?"

Zak shook his head."Did a little in High school, but no, not really."

She looked down at her glass.

"Pity. I only sleep with men who speak French."

"I know a little Italian."

She shook her head.

"Everyone knows Italian. French is like poetry."

"I could learn."

"Would you do that? To sleep with me I mean."

Zak held his hands up.

"For a girl who won't shake hands on a first date you sure have some strange notions."

"I sing here every week. You could come listen. I mean, if you want, unless you have to go back to Oregon." She pronounced it slowly. Oreaaygone. "And you might like to learn some French words too."

"I guess I could. So what else don't you do on a first date?"

"You're making fun of me now. People do that a lot. They think I'm a kook."

"Are you? A kook I mean."

She sipped the last of her drink with slurp.

"I guess so, but I think that's ok. Life would be crazy if there weren't any crazy people in it, don't you think?"

Zak laughed.

"I guess so."

"I've got to go now. Will you come again?" She stood up. Zak realized his size made her look even smaller than he thought she was.

"Tellement bientôt. Chantez sil vous plait encore."

She looked at him.


"I said, so soon and please sing again."

"You speak French. But you said. . ."

"I lie on the first date. Only on the first date though. My mother's from Montreal. Guess you think I'm crazy too."

She smiled.

"I like you. I like you a lot. And the fact that you speak French, well that's gotta be kinda fate, don't you think."

"Kinda. Now are you going to sing again?"

She took off her coat.

"Merci beaucoup. What are you gonna sing?"

She made her way back on stage. Grabbing the mike, she looked over to Zak.

"Non, je ne regrette rien" she called out.

"No regrets." Zak said to himself. "No regrets."

—Alun Williams