Friday, January 09, 2009
Flowers and a bicycle help rendre hommage to Polly Platt--who loved to ride. Your help is needed in paying tribute this beloved author and speaker. Share your stories about Polly: your favorite anecdotes from her helpful books, a favorite tip that you learned from one of her articles, or a chance encounter that you shared with one of our favorite Francophiles.
hommage (oh-mazh) noun, masculine
Terms & Expressions:
les hommages = respects
rendre hommage à quelqu'un = to pay tribute to someone
faire hommage d'un livre =
1) to give a complimentary copy of a book to someone whom we respect
2) to dedicate a book to someone
Audio File: listen to the French word "hommage" and to the expressions: Download Hommage . Download Hommage
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~< Hommage à Polly Platt >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today, we are remembering Polly Platt, who passed away over the holidays. Many of you knew her from her bestselling books, in which she helped us to understand a culture on which we have a flagrant crush. Some of you have had the chance to participate in Polly's French cultural conferences, where her verve and vision captured audiences. Others would have liked to have simply said "Bonjour!" to her, via email, but lacked the courage to contact the cultural diva....
(...and, here, not two weeks after my finger hovered over a computer mouse which, in turn, hovered over Polly's email address, I am kicking myself for not sending that letter. Polly, you would have surely encouraged me to aim higher than this keyboard--behind which I hide--in time to connect: because connections, you taught, whether with a culture--or within a corporation--are what make the world go round. While I had hoped you might be a mentor for me, I trust that you are here, putting a certain "esprit de vie" into this tribute: to a woman who I, who so many, never chanced to meet.)
* * *
Thousands have already read the following hommage* which appeared in the Parler Paris Newsletter http://www.parlerparis.com/. Thank you, Adrian Leeds, for allowing me to reprint your touching tribute, and thanks to Dianna and to Marian for forwarding it to me:
Excusez-Moi de Vous Déranger, Mais...
by Adrian Leeds
Any American who has ever attempted to live in France has been helped over the cultural crossings by her profound insight into the French psyche and amused by her sharp wit. Her name is Polly Platt.
I have written of her often. She told her humorous stories at numerous conferences and events we have sponsored. She was a colleague, a friend and a guiding light. On December 26th, Polly left the world "after a bad pneumonia in Vienna surrounded by her family," as her daughter, Sacha, informed me just a few days ago.
Polly Platt was one of the rare Americans on the Paris scene, having lived here more than 40 years, who will stand out as having made serious impact on the American community living here. She taught us how to understand the French, maneuver just about any situation and most importantly, how to enjoy the French and their very unique culture. If it weren't for Polly, I would never have learned how to say, "Excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais..." and get whatever I wanted or needed.
I first met her at a book reading in the late '90s. She had only written one book then -- "French or Foe" -- and it had been self-published, but quickly flying off the bookstore bookshelves. It was read it cover to cover, taking it on the bus or Métro and carrying it everywhere like a bible. One instance, a
young boy saw me reading it and got very enthused to tell me that Polly was a friend of his mother's -- he felt so special to boast of it! Then, a friend from New York laid claim to having 'house-sat' her apartment one summer only to uncover a diamond she has lost from her ring, to which Polly was forever grateful. It was 'two degrees of separation' and the connection glued me to her just a bit stronger.
Polly was warm and friendly, completely curious, a bit 'ditzy' and marvelously funny. We became fast friends and even though she was a master story-teller and I just a budding writer, she never stopped encouraging me and 'propping' up my writer's ego. We would meet for lunch at a little bistrot I'd recommend (as the 'official' restaurant critic and guide writer between the two of us), arriving on her bike in even the most inclement weather, and then beg to hear some of my experiences as a newcomer to France.
One such story ended up being told in her second book, "Savoir-Flair! 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French." On page 115, Chapter 9 titled, "Enjoying French Customer Service," Polly relates an experience I had attempting to buy bras with my daughter in the H&M on rue de Rivoli. She said it exemplified everything we (Americans) do 'wrong' when expecting the same customer service in France we expect Stateside...not to mention hilariously funny...especially when the bras went flying like torpedoes aimed at the sales clerks!
Once again Polly hit the nails on their proverbial heads with her second book. It wasn't a surprise -- we ate up every word.
Then we didn't hear from Polly for a while. She stayed more reclusive in her Dordogne home and gave up her Paris apartment on rue de Bellechase. Then she resurfaced with a new book, just launched this past autumn titled "Love à la française -- What happens when Hervé meets Sally?"
It's Polly's finest work. For every woman who has ever dreamed of finding love in France with a Frenchman, it IS the bible. Don't even attempt to "rendez-vous" with a Frenchman until you have read it!
One Parler Paris reader wrote, "If it weren't for her books, Pierre and I would not still be writing and talking to each other today (can you believe it?)... I would have given up on trying to understand him if I didn't have Polly Platt's books. I never met her, but she is a part of my life because she helped me make room in my heart for...'mon ami très cher Pierre'...her wisdom will live on." Florence
Losing Polly Platt is every American in Paris' loss. You can't see the tears rolling down my cheeks, but they're there, tasting salty as they hit my lips, from which I utter:
"Polly, excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais...que ton âme repose en paix."
A la prochaine...
Editor, Parler Paris
Polly Platt's books:
French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France
Love a la francaise: What Happens when Hervé meets Sally
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