Mad American

I made an ass of myself by asking the Information Man at the train station a completely ridiculous and random question that turned out to have a completely obvious and stupid answer.

I was waiting for Christianna and Robbie, who were running late. I had already bothered the Information Man once to page them, then he saw that I was still there but I explained that I'd had her on the phone and that she was just running late.

I had been trying to figure out the Belgian name for the number 80. Whereas the French call 70 soixante-dix, 80 quatre-vingts and 90 quatre-vingts-dix, the Swiss and Belgians have invented actual names for these numbers. I just don't remember what they are. So as Information Man and I were tight like that and both standing around with nothing to do and he was, after all, an Information Man, I decided to ask him.

Me: Excusez-moi, monsieur. "Quatre-vingts" en Belgique, ça s'appelle comment?
IM: Quatre-vingts?
Me: Oui, le nom belge pour le chiffre quatre-vingts.
IM: Soixante-dix-neuf?
Me: Quatre-vingts. Ottante, ou quelque chose comme ça?
IM: Quatre-vingts.
Me: Ah, je croyais qu'il y avait un nom différent en Belgique-- hi, Christianna!

And upon the arrival of Christianna and Robbie, our thrilling conversation ended. I still think he's wrong, though. Maybe Bruxelles is different from the rest of the country, maybe he's French, or maybe he's Flemish and learned French in France. I'm sure there's something like ottante or octante that is used in Belgium. Perhaps I will have to buy something that costs 70 to 99 cents.

srah - Sunday, 27 April 2003 - 6:38 PM
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