Postcard from Europe #3: The Clinton Dividend

Another post from the time in the early 90s when I was working in Germany and traveling on weekends...

16 years back, I was in Bordeaux for a weekend. I was in the mood for some local food. The lady who ran the Youth Hostel knew that my French was limited to "Parle vous Anglais?" so she said "I know this place but..."

Well, I ended up going there, a tiny, tiny place that was filled with regulars. The only one who knew English was the waitress, Marie, whose entire length and breadth of High School English was tested when I asked her to explain what was on the fixed-price menu. She ended up dragging me into the kitchen and showing me the actual vegetables and meats and furiously scribbling down the words as I told her the names in English. Throughout a delectable 6 course meal, the regulars and I had an odd conversation - single words traded back and forth to appreciate and enjoy the food and the wine we were served.

When the meal ended and Marie had a little bit more time, the questions came in more complete form and the conversation turned to the Bill Clinton. You see, just 3 weeks before, Bill Clinton was elected the President of United States. He had really piqued the interests of these folks in Bordeaux. They felt they understood him. They were also quite confused how he could be elected with only 43% of the votes.

That started a whole new conversation on electoral college and the curious way that America held its elections. In the end, when I got up to pay, the owner of the place gave me a hefty 15 Franc discount on 50FF meal and didn't charge for all the wine I drank - because I was so patient with the questions. I call that discount my "Clinton Dividend". I yearn for another such dividend...

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