Malorie, one of my closest American friends, was creating a ballet routine for my audition for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School's summer dance intensive. Malorie, who was a student there, would love for Chrissa and me to join her there this summer. She showed Chrissa and me bits and pieces from the dance; she said she would show us the full thing when she was actually in ballet clothes.
I loved the routine she created for me! She made sure to add plenty of leaps- which I am wonderful at! Chrissa and I were impressed with what we saw. We both knew this routine was perfect for me.
"Bonjour, Sandrine! Me connais-tu?"
Suddenly, we turned to face a girl with a tanned face, freckles, and shiny red hair. I sort-of smiled.
"Bonjour, Ophélie! Je suis heureuse à te voir encore! Comment est-ce que tu es arrivée ici?" I asked my friend, curious about how she ended up in the United States.
"Ah, Sandrine, c'est un secret!" Ophélie laughed. Of course. I should have known. Most things about her were a "secret"- or at least she said they were. She liked to make herself seem interesting and mysterious. That was just who she was.
She then pointed to Malorie. "Qui est cette fille?"
I explained that Malorie was, without a doubt, one of my only American friends. I made an effort to brag that Malorie was a dancer at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and that her mom toured the world and now teaches jazz at the studio Malorie's grandmother- a former ballerina- started. I just wanted to impress Ophélie and show her that I know how to pick my friends!
She then asked about Chrissa, and I just said she danced at the best studio in Des Moines, Iowa...where she's from.
Ophélie asked where Iowa was, and Chrissa promptly explained. Chrissa was extremely ecstatic to meet another French person- and a dancer nonetheless! She asked if Ophélie was from Paris, and Ophélie snorted. "I've attended many intensives there. Actually, that's how I met Sandrine. I'll be dancing there someday; you'll see," she told Chrissa. "But for now, I'm stuck living in Amiens, a large town in the Picardie region."
And Chrissa totally set Ophélie off with the next comments. "Awesome! I plan on dancing for the Opéra National de Paris someday, too! I'd love to be one of their étoiles! Oh, and when I'm done dancing, I'm going to marry an extremely adorable Frenchman and open my own dance studio.My life is going to be fabulous! I really thought you were going to be from Paris. I'd love to meet a nice parisienne. I don't even know where Amiens is!!!"
"How stupid can you possibly get, Chrissa? I just told you that Amiens was in the Picardie region. Actually, it's the capital of the Somme department of that region! What is with you Americans and Paris? Seriously, I want to live in Paris as much as you do, but I do understand that Paris is in France and France isn't Paris."
Chrissa was upset and confused. The next thing came as a large surprise to me because I have never heard Chrissa argue with anyone. Never. She was furious. "Why is it okay if you don't know where Iowa is, but it's considered ignorance if I don't know where the Picardie region is?"
"It's the way you presented it, Chrissa. You present yourself like every other teenage American girl- you have such a romanticized view of everything French. It's like all your French knowledge comes from movies or something," Ophélie sneered.
Promptly, Chrissa walked away. "I DO NOT have a romanticized view of France! I think very normally about it! In fact, I even do research on it!"Ophélie kept encouraging the argument. "Here's another problem with you Americans- all of you guys are encouraged to dream big...not realistically. So about dancing..."
"It's my dream, and I'll make it come true! Gosh, just leave me alone! I was just trying to make conversation, but you are seriously treating me like dirt!" Chrissa said on her way to her room.
I was going to talk to Chrissa later and explain that was just Ophélie and her personality. She was always like that, and she didn't mean it offensively, even though she was the definition of offensive sometimes. I guess I should also tell Ophélie about Chrissa's personality. Yeah, Chrissa *does* have the most romanticized view about France ever, but there's no reason to attack her. Sabine would have found this whole argument totally amusing. If I could talk to her without fighting, I'd probably be tempted to tell her.
The next person Ophélie critiqued was Malorie, and Malorie did not take this lightly. She was more enraged than Chrissa was. Ophélie said that Malorie's arms looked bad while she was dancing, and she tried to help Malorie.
Angrily, Malorie explained that she has danced for most of her life and attended a very prestigious school, so she doesn't need Ophélie's insults. Yes, Ophélie's "advice" did end up sounding more like insults, but maybe she had something to say that Malorie could benefit from...? Not that I think Malorie's arms look bad while she's dancing or anything. If they did, I would have noticed a long time ago. For example, Liz can't point her toes to save her life, but she has only taken jazz classes (never a ballet class...the embarrassment!) and therefore lacks basic technique. I notice Liz. Malorie is a completely different story.
After Malorie left (probably to join Chrissa and whine about Ophélie), Ophélie showed me some new things she learned during a summer dance intensive in Paris last year.
I then tried out some of the stuff with her. It would have been much easier if I were wearing my ballet things, but I danced regardless.
I let her know that it was nice to see her again, and she said that she missed having me around. Although we don't live in the same regions, the Picardie region is directly below the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It is easy for her to take a train to Lille just as it's easy for me to visit her in Amiens. She's definitely only of my better friends. She really does seem to understand me as much as she can given she doesn't know my secret.
So that, readers, was my friend Ophélie Rosaire Ducatel. I don't know how she got here or when she's leaving, but as long as she's here, I'll have to deal with her. I hope I can convince Malorie and Chrissa that she isn't all evil.