Dear Smiley: My husband and I took an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon.
At one of our first stops, we wandered the streets and visited the many quaint stores.
While browsing in one, we overheard a fellow cruise ship passenger raise her voice and enunciate clearly as she asked the cashier, "Do you take American money?"
Dear Smiley: While celebrating one of our many wedding anniversaries in Europe, Buddy and I arrived in Paris, the final destination of our trip.
We decided we'd mail our postcards to family and friends before checking in at the hotel, and asked a young man walking on the sidewalk to direct us to the post office. (We had both studied French in high school.)
After numerous attempts to give us instructions using the French language, and our shaking our heads "No" each time he said, "Comprendre?," he finally gestured with his hands for us to follow him.
Six blocks later and numerous right and left turns, we arrived at the post office. The kindness of this young man is one of our most memorable memories of our visit to Paris.
Dear Smiley: My husband, Deluse Pierre Doucet, is one of the last Cajuns to grow up speaking only French until first grade. He was always taken aback by those who said his French was, "not the real one."
Early in our marriage, we journeyed to France. Deluse said he listened to French conversations for a while, judging any differences. Then he began to speak French freely to all with no problems.
At Versailles, he got into a long conversation with one gentleman. After a while, the Frenchman asked, "Are you from Toulouse?" (Evidently a town in France with many accents.)
Dear Smiley: Several years ago I took a nine-day trip into Poland to visit the site of a famous battle of the Seven Years War. I stayed in Wroclaw in southwestern Poland, about 30 minutes from the battle site. Wroclaw (known as Breslau before Poland was shifted to the west after World War II) is a very big city, where everyone spoke English.
Out of the city I found no one spoke any English wherever I stopped and tried to communicate. I quickly found my tiny Polish-English was little or no help.
Finishing my last day of exploring and photography, I noticed my rental car was filthy, and I needed a car wash.
I remembered a convenience store a few miles away that might have a car wash. I drove there, and it did indeed have a car wash.
I pulled in directly in front of the car wash doors. Behind the counter was a young man.
I looked at him, turned and pointed several times to my car, put my hands high up above me, wiggled my fingers, gave a "rain sound," brought my hands down, with my right hand moving like it held a cloth and was turning it in a washing motion. I looked at him …
He smiled and said in English, "You want a car wash?"
Coming up short
Dear Smiley: Way back in the 1950s, some friends were shopping and saw curtains they wanted for their front window.
Not knowing the size, they called home and asked a younger sister to measure the window.
After holding on waiting for the measurement, the sister returned with bad news.
She could not measure the window because the ruler wasn't long enough.
Rhyme's a crime
Dear Smiley: I have been a fan of your column for quite some time, and decided to write a poem in tribute to you.
Since my skill at composing haikus is yet to be tested, I thought I would submit a limerick instead:
"This column is authored by Smiley,
Whose readers regard him quite highly.
But they write the story,
While he takes the glory,
Perhaps his name ought to be 'Wily.’ ”
Dear Monte: Thanks for the effort. While I love the subject matter, I'm afraid I'm still going to have to suspend your poetic license.