What do you do when you’ve come to the conclusion that one of your best friends is a bit of a phoney? Take his French. I had known from earlier conversations that he was not fluent in French at all, even to the point that he didn’t know what simple words like garçon meant. Yet we talk on AOL Instant Messenger a lot since it’s easier to work with textual stuff that way than in person, and one day we somehow got onto the topic of French. I think I was the one who started it–I put a simple French phrase down. After a bit of a pause, he comes back with this perfect French reply–with accents and everything (which I didn’t add for the sake of simplicity)–and impeccable grammar. I was, of course, a bit suspicious, but he continued with it. Almost immediately I thought that he was probably using Alta Vista’s translation service, but I figured I was being pretty harsh. We both fancy ourselves to be little scholars, and it isn’t entirely impossible that he had gained at least a smattering of French in the interim.

Yet my doubts continued (especially since he just responded to something I said in French as light provocation with a blank stare and a smile), and finally one day he made a huge slip–he pasted a reply from the translation service in which one of the English words (that would not have been left untranslated if one was speaking French) had not been translated by the program. All of a sudden, he informed me that he was tired and that his French was “getting rusty.” I’ve never said anything about it, but I sometimes feel like asking him, “What kind of an idiot do you think I am?” For those of you who think that he may have just been playing a joke–he wasn’t. It was very definitely an attempt to make me think he knew French.

I know I have a tendency toward arrogance myself, but that’s just silly and somewhat childish. I don’t want to lose a friend over things like this, though, and I must say that this isn’t the only instance of him trying to make me think he knows more than he does. Whether these actions are indicative of insecurity or pure showing-off, I don’t know.

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