As I click the correct translation of the word “carrot,” the Duolingo owl flies onto my screen to announce that I have completed all the lessons in beginner French.
“Wow!” I say, before quickly correcting it to “Génial!” The owl flies around in a circle and another text pops up proclaiming that I am actually the best beginner French student Duolingo has ever seen, and because of this, they are sending me on an all-expense paid trip to Paris. Zut alors!
When I arrive at the Charles de Gaulle airport I see a serious, James Bond-esque man holding a sign with my name. He escorts me to a fancy SUV and drives me to the Ritz-Carlton, where I will be staying.
“Ze Duolingo team was so impressed by your word association skills and 17-day streak that they have booked you ze penthouse suite,” the driver tells me.
“Merci,” I respond.
“Incroyable,” the driver says, slowly taking off his sunglasses, “You really know your stuff.”
I make an espresso and drink it on my balcony which has panoramic views of the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacrée Coeur, and Notre Dame. Since arriving in Paris, I now enjoy the taste of espresso and it no longer gives me heartburn. I change into a blue striped shirt, a pair of dark jeans that fit me perfectly, and a small neck scarf that makes me look chic and not at all like a prepubescent Boy Scout.
I start to bike along the Seine when suddenly, I see a lost poodle walking along the streets. I pick her up and she wags her tail and smiles at me.
“Le chien,” I say, correctly identifying her as a dog. She nods vigorously as if to say, “Ah, this is a French woman who definitely speaks French.” I see the address of her owner on her dog tag, so I plop her in my basket and ride there.
I knock on the door and a man answers. It is Gabriel, from Emily in Paris (not the actor who plays Gabriel, but Gabriel himself). He apologizes profusely and offers me the bouquet of flowers he is holding.
“All French men carry fresh flowers around,” he explains.
“Les fleurs,” I say, remembering the Duolingo lesson on nature.
“Oui, exactment,” he replies. He looks at me with the loving gaze of a groom seeing his bride for the first time, and then asks if I would like to come in as he is hosting a little soirée.
“Bien sûr,” I say.
He replies, “Magnifique,” which is a word we actually didn’t get to in beginner French, but I knew it anyway.
I come in and Gabriel introduces me to his friends Jean-Claude, Jean-Paul, and Jean-Pierre. They each kiss me on both cheeks and I am able to reciprocate this action in a way that is natural and not at all awkward. Gabriel and the Jeans begin a heated discussion about primary colors, numbers between one and fifty, and phrases like, “Where is the library?” I add, “One library is over there, it is brown.” All four men are blown away by my impeccable conversational skills.
I head back to my hotel room and start to settle in when all of a sudden, I hear a knock at my door. I open it and see that my visitor is Emmanuel Macron! Apparently, Duolingo called him directly to tell him about my French abilities. He asks if I can help him write an upcoming speech about common foods found at the grocery store. I tell him, “Oui,” and he is so thrilled that he gives me French citizenship on the spot.
After he leaves, I wind down with a simple yet elegant skincare routine, slip on silk pajamas that hang gracefully off my dainty frame, and get ready for bed. I see Gabriel texted me asking if I’d like to drink chardonnay with him at the top of the Eiffel Tower tomorrow. Absolument! Between that and helping write a presidential speech it’ll certainly be a busy day, but c’est la vie!