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A young girl runs breathlessly into the office.
Girl: Hi, I'm Sally Champion, I hope I'm not too late!
Receptionist: Oh, no go right in, I expect they're waiting for you.
Sally enters the  office where a small group of people are seated.
Mr Simontree: Ah, Sally, do sit down.
Sally: Thank you. (looking a little sheepishly)
Mr. Simontree: I was just  about to finish  reading the last will and testament of your Aunt Catherine, Sally,  and I think we 're about to come to your part , perfect timing  young lady( Sally tried to sit smaller in her seat) ... ah, yes here it is: and to my only niece, Sally , I leave a small house just outside Paris, a round-trip ticket , and a small sum of money. Have a good trip dear, and whatever you do ; don't bring your Grandmother Parsons or Agnes! Those two old prudes will only ruin Paris for you." Mr. Simontree cleared his throat, obviously embarrassed to have to read that with Agnes and Mrs. Parson present.
 Sally:  "Oh no," ( Sally turns to the audience in an aside), "If only Aunt Catherine had ordered them to accompany me to Paris  they would have refused."  (Sally muttered two words that  described her grandmother very well)
She's so cantankerous and plain old stubborn, Alas."
Grandma Parsons : "Could we hear just the last part over again, please?" Grandma Parsons asked sweetly. Her eyes like twin knives boring into him, Mr. Simontree hesitated. "I didn't quite hear that right." She said with a huge predatory smile and eyes that glittered. His office became very quiet.  Mr. Simontree had know Grandma Parsons almost since he had passed the bar and had an unsupported and irrational fear of her. Now, he was a very good lawyer and a nice man, but not a brave one.
Mr. Simontree : "Ah, Ah," he flustered. He was sweating, "The last part, I think that's where your Aunt Catherine demands that  you especially ask your grandmother and Agnes if they want to go to Paris  with you... Sally." Then he collapsed into his chair.
Grandma Parsons: That's settled then. (very satisfied with herself)
Sally: "But grandma, Paris, you've never even left Massachusetts! "
Grandma Parsons: "Why would I have wanted to travel, I'm already here in Boston!... Still it can't be helped. "
Agnes: "No Sally dear, we must go." (Agnes chirped in) "We wouldn't feel right,  letting you go alone to Paris, and you being an orphan and all."
(Sally eyes rolled up in exasperation)
Grandma Parsons: "Yes, especially after your Aunt Catherine asked us to look after you there. It's the least we can do. "
Sally: "But I'm eighteen! I'll be alright! Seriously, no worries Grand."
Grandma Parsons:(Ignoring Sally) "Oh yes, a terrible accident that was. Both  your parents out for a Sunday drive when their car caught on fire. "
Agnes: "Such a shame, your father thinking to turn into a gas station to ask for help. What with all those fumes and all. "
Grandma Parsons: "I understand  his last words were:"where did everybody go?."
Agnes: "A wonderful man your father, all the same, not what you would call a quick thinker. Well, live and learn I always say, OOPS! "
Grandma Parsons: (muttering) "I never thought he was smart enough  for my daughter. "
Sally: (ignoring Agnes) "But grandma , you're old, traveling to a foreign city can be terribly tiring! "
Grandma Parsons: "Nonsense, child, I am as fit as a fiddle." (and she tried to stand straighter as if that were possible)
Agnes : "And I'm an expert linguist! "(looking wide eyed and innocent)
Sally: "But Aunt Agnes" ( It must be pointed out that Agnes was not really Sally's aunt but she had been calling herself that for so long that no one remembered that she wasn't, including Sally and Agnes themselves) "you haven't traveled farther than grandma! "
Agnes : "That's not so! "(she pouted) "Why, I've been to upper state New York and to Maine in the sumer and don't you  forget that I've been as far away as the Epcot Center and Disneyworld in Florida, and that is just like going to all them foreign parts."(she made Florida sound exotic indeed)

                       Later at the bar at Logan Airport, in Boston.

Sally: (shuddering a  bit)" Oh boy, am I nervous, this will be the first time I have flown in a plane." (she folded her arms  about her waist)
Grandma Parsons: " Rubbish, nothing to it !" ( she said fiercely, but she looked very pale)
Agnes:" I know what we need; something to drink!! "(pointing her index finger in the air)
Sally: "I am thirsty. "
Agnes: (turning to the bartender and catching his attention) "Sahib, kimosaby, hula hula, trois beers, poor favors. "
Sally: "Was that French? " (looking confused)
Grandma Parsons:  "Agnes , for heavens sake, we are still in Boston SPEAK ENGLISH!"
Agnes :" I know,  I know, but I want to get into practice before we arrive a Charlie the Gaul. And you know that all of these people who work in the airport are trained to speak other tongues. Why do you think  they call this Logan INTER NATIONAL Airport? "
As if by magic, the bartender placed three beers in front of the ladies.
Agnes: ( smiling, no beaming at the barman) "Mercy Buttercups. "
Grandma Parsons: " It's not buttered cups this is beer. I don't drink alcoholic beverages! "
Agnes : "Mercy Buttercups is a form of politeness like ' please' and 'thank you very much', silly. And anyway , I asked for non-alcoholic beer.
Sally: "You did?" (Sally does a double take)
Grandma Parsons:  (Resigned, then somewhat expectant she raises her mug to her lips) "Oh, kind of spicy."(Draining her  beer in one gulp) "Let's have another!3
Sally : "I got this book and these  tapes to help me with learning French. I'm going to listen to them on the flight over. Is that how you learned how to speak French Aunt Agnes?
Agnes: "No honey I just got the knack". (smiling broadly)
Sally: (Getting up from her seat) "Listen, I 'll just go order another beer for Grandma, Can I get you anything Aunt Agnes?"
Aunt Agnes: "No deary, I... I've only started to sip mine." (looking at Grandma Parsons as if to send a message)
Grandma Parsons: "Get me two, I'm suddenly really thirsty! "
Sally: Okay. (Agnes tries to signal Sally no but she doesn’t see her)
Grandma Parsons: Boy, I feel awfully relaxed right now. (She says to no one in particular)
Sally: (chasing down the bartender) "Two beers please."
Bartender: "Gee, I didn't know you spoke English. "
Sally: "Oh, that was just my Aunt. She was practicing her "French."
Bartender: "Here's your beers. I wish I knew how to speak a foreign language. "
Sally: "You must know some. "
Bartender: "Nope, I flunked Spanish five years in a row. "
Sally: "You're joking...Then how did you know to give us three beers? "
Bartender: "Well, Miss, I always give foreigners that don't speak English a beer.
They never complain to me."


A group of passengers exiting customs:
-Who was that old lady?
- I know I can't believe she spent half the flight dancing and singing dirty songs in the aisles.
-Well, I never!!!
-Yes, I was never so happy to get off a flight before!
-Did you see her when she swiped  my whiskey, right from under my nose!
-Oh, that's nothing , she drank two of my martinis.
-Really, She drank my duty-free  perfume!!!
-Did you know she tried to get in the cockpit to try to fly the plane?
-Good god!
At he end of the line are three tired women; grandma is in the middle being supported by the other two.
Grandma Parsons:"oooooh my head oooooh my head.... "
Agnes: "That's all she keeps saying: oooh my head. "
Sally: "Do we have all the luggage? "
Grandma: "Never mind the baggage find me a new body! ooooooh, aaaaaahhh "
Agnes: "How about a nice cup of tea with some alka-seltzers  in it? "
Grandma: "Why does that sound good right now? "
Sally: "You've been drinking, Grandma. "
Grandma: "Impossible my lips have never tasted a drop of alcohol! "(Suddenly stiffening then wincing)
Sally:" I don't think you can say that anymore." (as Grandma slumps)
Agnes: (Looking around suspeciously) This looks awfully modern here. Are you sure we're not still in the States?
Why isn't everyone wearing berets?

                                      IN PARIS AT A CAFE

Sally and Agnes are sitting together around a cafe table outside a bistro.

Sally:" What's keeping Grandma? She has been gone for hours. "
Agnes: "Oh, she'll be all right " (just as Grandma forcefully strides back to the women)
Grandma Parsons: "barbarians, Barbarians, BARBARIANS."
Sally: "Are you okay? " (looking concerned)
Grandma:" First, I had to pay two euros just to get into the bathroom. Then I had to walk past men peeing, not something I want to repeat soon. The final insult was there was no flush, nothing to sit on just a hole in the ground!" (she shuddered)
Sally: "Unbelievable."
Agnes: "You have to be prepared for these kind of surprises in a primitive country like France." (nodding wisely)"I would expect that most of the houses still have dirt floors. "
Sally: "Well, ah, It is their country and you have to respect their customs."
Grandma: " Not in your life young lady! From now on I'll only use the restrooms at Mac Donald's! I'm sure they have proper bathrooms, after all they are an American firm." (she said with some satisfaction)

Suddenly some music comes on and Aunt Agnes decides to translate the French into English.
Aunt Agnes: "She says she loves him. "(she says melodiously)
Sally: "Ah, the French are so romantic! "
Aunt Agnes: "He says; me neither. " (she says dryly)
Grandma Parsons: "Goodness. The French are crazy! "
Sally: "Are you sure you translated that right, Aunt Agnes? "
Aunt Agnes: "Honestly, it's what he said. I have my DICTIONARY!"
Grandma Parsons: "Well, I'm sure that they're not speaking English just to spite me!  Making fun of a sweet old woman, Shalmeful"
Sally: That's absurd, We 're in France; where they speak French. "
Grandma Parsons: "
Nonsense,, English is the most perfect language in the world. Besides, it's the language of Europe, of the world! Everyone should learn it. "
Aunt Agnes: "That's right, no other language allows you to express more beautifully than English."
Grandma Parsons: "Soon the only language will be English. Those other languages are practically extinct. It's a fait accompli. "
Sally: "Fait accompli is French , Grandma."
Grandma Parsons: "Imagine that. They're trying to sneak their language into ours. It's a sign of desperation  that is."
Sally: "Maybe English is the best language in the world but you're in France and you can perfectly express yourself all you want and no one is going to understand a word you say. "
Grandma Parsons: "No problem, I'll simply stay right here for another five years and everyone will be speaking English. "
Agnes: "Hmm, true but don't you think that's a long time to wait for lunch. "
Sally: "Grandma you're impossible! The only reason you say all that stuff is you're afraid you won't be able to learn French. "
Agnes: "She's right! It's only sour grapes, you're just jealous 'cause you're not an expert at languaging like me. "
Grandma Parsons: "Look understand I'm too old to learn to speak funny. "
Agnes:" Isn't it time to see your new house, Sally? "
Sally:" I'm for that. I can't wait. "
Agnes: "Monsoon, Monsoon, the addition, see two plates. "
Grandma Parsons: Wait a cotton picking minute! See two plates? I don't see two plates, I see three teacups with saucers but I don't see any two plates?"

                               Later at the front door of the house

The door opens and pretty girl stands in the doorway.
Grandma Parsons: I believe this is our new house and you must be Nicole, the student who has been renting one of the rooms here.
Nicole: Bonjour Mesdames.
Agnes: Bangor, Bangor.
Grandma Parsons: (In her most formal and polite mode) "How do you do?" (extending her hand ) I hope our solicitor got in touch with you. I am Mrs. Parsons. This is my friend, Agnes, and this is my granddaughter, Sally.
Nicole: "Eh, oui, enchanté. "
The women then entered rather quickly and Sally stepped on Nicole's toe.
Nicole: "Ai!Ai! "
Grandma Parsons: "What? "
Agnes:( quickly searching through her dictionary)  "she said; garlic, garlic."
Sally: "Hold on...I think she said that because I stepped on her . "
Grandma Parsons: "Must be some kind of French welcome, well garlic, garlic to you too young woman. "
Agnes: "Maybe they're afraid of vampires here.? You never know,. There is always some truth to legends."
Sally: "Hey!!! Doesn't anyone listen to me I just stepped on her toe! "
Grandma: "Well, why didn't she say: "OUCH!" like a normal person?"
Nicole:" I would liking to speak English. "
Sally: "Oh, that's great, I'm trying to learn to speak French. We could help each other. "
Nicole: "S p e a k   s l o w l y    p l e a s e ."
Sally: "Sure,   W  h  e  r  e     a  r  e    y  o  u     f  r  o  m ? "
Nicole: "Je viens d'ici. "
Agnes: "She says she is from a town called Issy. "
Sally: "Is it near Paris?"

                                    A Few  Days Later  At The House

Sally: "Sapristi! Tonnerre de Brest! "
Grandma: "Are you okay, dear? "
Sally: "Mille millions de mille sabords! Saperlipopette! "
Agnes:" What's the matter? "
Nicole: "Elle a trop lu Tintin ".
Sally: "It's most peculiar! My face stings and it hurts and it's a little numb. "
Agnes:" It has red spots on it too. "
Nicole:" ça va?
Sally: "What did she say? "
Agnes: "That go. "
Sally: "That go where? "
Agnes:" Où?" ( to Nicole)
Sally: "Who?
Nicole: "Je ne vous comprend pas. "
Grandma Parsons: "Never mind the French lessons, what where you doing just before your face hurt?
Did you eat or drink anything recently? "
Sally:" I was just out in the garden and I saw some mint. I do love the smell of mint .So I picked some. 
Then I brought it up to my nose and crushed it between my fingers. That's when my face started to hurt. "
Agnes: "Do you think she's allergic to mint? "
Grandma Parsons: "We'll see. Take us to your mint. " (and she marched them out to the garden)
Sally:" Here it is! "
Grandma Parsons: "Don't touch it again!"
Agnes: "Why what is it? "
Nicole: "Ce sont des ortis. "
Grandma Parsons: "That's nettles! You just rubbed nettles in your face.Young people today! Listen, nettles is a plant that squirts acid to
keep animals from eating it. "
Nicole: "Elles sont foules ces américaines. "
Grandma Parsons:" I understood that Nicole and je suis bien d'accord with you. "
Sally: "Have you been studying your French, Grandma? "
Grandma:" Oh, don't make me blush."


Ding Dong
Grandma Parsons: I wonder who could that be?
Ding Dong
Grandma Parsons: Well, don't all jump up to answer the door. (looking at Agnes who continues to be lost in her book and Nicole who is earnestly doing her crossword puzzle.)
When she opens the door she sees a group of Japanese tourists.
Tour leader: C'est bien le Chateau de Mouton?
Grandma Parsons: Castle, listen we've got four bedrooms but no one's calling that a castle.
Tour leader: O, you  English speaking (bowing).
Grandma Parsons: Yes, I speak English , but you have got the wrong house, wrong house.
Tour leader: But, but, but...
Aunt Agnes: What a kidder! Of course this is the Castle of Moulie! Come right in.
Grandma Parsons: What the devil?
Aunt Agnes: The castle has a long history. The Castle was completely changed  in the early seventies when it was modernized. Unfortunately  it doesn't look exactly as it did three hundred years ago.
Grandma Parsons: Agnes!!!
Aunt Agnes: Yes, yes, yes, good point , the Marquis d'Agnes was killed in this very kitchen. You know it was a very tough time for the nobility during the French Revolution.
Tour leader: That's very interesting. ( all the tourists nod their heads and follow Agnes )
Agnes: Now if you'll follow me and  go into this room, we get a great view of the back yard where Harry de Crawford was beheaded...
Nicole: What is happens now just?
Grandma Parsons: I'm not sure but I think Agnes is giving a guided tour of our house.
Nicole: Pourquoi?
Grandma Parsons: Beats me.
In Sally's Bedroom a minute or two later
Sally is sleeping peacefully in her bed when...
Agnes: (Opening the door) This is the very chamber where Marie Antoinette hid while the mobs were searching for her.
Sally: What's going on? Hey? Strange men in my room! Eek!!! (she hides herself under the covers) Before breakfast even!
Agnes: Oh, yes we have an American actress staying with us... ah, Sally Field ... Sally Fielding. Yes that's it.
Sally: (from under the blankets) I am not an actress I'm an American student studying French!
Agnes: Certainly,(turning to the tourists) Poor dear, that's her next role. She believes in living the part.
Sally: Get out of here! Sortez d'ici! Right now! Toute suite! Leave! Split! Vanish or else!
Agnes: Oh, you know how  actresses are, temperamental, moody...
Sally: Ugh!
Tour leader: We photo here? (with that the group begins to take many photos.)
Sally: No! Now GO!
Agnes: (leaving)  You understand that if Marie Antoinette had simply stayed here in stead of going out for some cake...

Some Twenty Minutes Later
     At the kitchen table are sitting three women: grandma looking bemused, Sally glumly and not at all awake, nursing her coffee, and Nicole still earnestly doing her crossword puzzle.
Nicole: Zut, (turning to Sally) Have you got a rubber?
Sally: What?
Nicole: You know a rubber! I just make ze error.
Sally: Ah, you mean an eraser.
Nicole: Yes an eraser. (pause) Well!
Sally: Sorry I'm not up yet. I think there's one in my purse. (she gets up to look for her purse) Here it is, er, La voila .
Nicole : Merci.
Offstage we hear Aunt Agnes: Thank you. I hope you all had a wonderful time.
Grandma Parsons: How could this happen?
Nicole (looking up from her puzzle): I zhink zare are too many tourist in Paris.
Sometimes I zhink zare are more tourists zan Parisians.
       Aunt Agnes enters the room
Agnes: I don't know what came over me.
            All of the other women stare at her.
Aunt Agnes: What?
Sally: How could you?
Aunt Agnes: Hey, they paid me thirty five dollars a head. I couldn't say no.
Grandma Parsons: You robbed them.
Agnes: That's tourism.
Nicole: Zhirty five dollars each, you are worse zhan zee plums.
Grandma Parsons: You mean plumbers.
Nicole: Yes.
Sally: Well , looking on the bright side: at least that will not happen again. ( the others look a her) I mean what do you think the chances are that someone else would mistake our house for a castle.
Distinguished looking man:Ist das  doch das Scholoss Von Mouton?

Ce texte © 2000 Christopher Yukna - tous droits réservés

Professor of English at the Ecole des Mines
158 cours fauriel  St.Etienne FRANCE

The document was last modified: 11/30/2006 10:00:20.