After her Saturday morning workout, Melissa Nardone was picking up her usual Buff Monkey smoothie at the Soup Man restaurant in Hampton Bays. As the counter girl, Jessica Russo, 15, handed over the frothy strawberry-and-banana concoction, Ms. Nardone said brightly, “Enchanté!” With that she swiveled on her flamingo-tinted Nike’s and walked out to her silver Hyundai Santa Fe. Ms. Russo watched her go, shrugged her shoulders, and started to rinse the blender.
One can’t blame Ms. Russo for being puzzled over this eruption of French in the middle of her work day. But she might want to upload Yahoo!Babelfish (a free on-line translation service) before too long, as la jolie langue de Paris (“the pretty language of Paris”) has clearly arrived to stay among the well-heeled habitués of the Hamptons.
Of course the Hamptons have never been completely free of French influence. Ever since the potato fields were ploughed back to make room for the power-brokers, Europeans, including the French, have visited and found much to like in the wide, sandy beaches, vegetable stands and exclusive nightspots. And when a Syosset woman was fined for topless sunbathing on Westhampton Beach in 1981, it’s very possible she was simply doing as she heard the French have done for generations. And the Beatles, of course, wrote and sang their 1966 hit song “Michelle” almost entirely in French. But this summer in the Hamptons, it seems one cannot even pick up a smoothie without hearing the mother tongue of Matisse.
Tracked down a few blocks away at a stop-light, Ms. Nardone pulled off the side of the road to discuss the trend.
“At first I thought you were a cop,” she said, pushing her long raven hair from her eyes.
She was asked when she had begun seasoning her conversation with Gallic spice.
“Well the other night my friend Cameron and I Netflixed that Ethan Hawke movie, Before Sunset – that’s the one that’s like a sequel to Before Sunrise, with that blonde cute French actress, Julie Delpy, in it,” she said as the traffic on Montauk Highway whizzed past. “And they were in Paris and so she meets this other guy at a fancy party she says `Enchanté!’” (pronounced ON-SHANT-AY).
Had Ms. Nardone noticed if the approach of Bastille Day on July 14 had further plumped the saucisson (editor’s note: a large, cured French sausage of ground pork flavored with garlic) of Summer 2008?
“I’m a vegan,” she said, glancing nervously at her car. “I mean, mostly — I still like chicken.”
Ms. Nardone said she was late for something and slid back behind the wheel, the back tires spinning a bit in the roadside gravel as she gunned the engine. At least one observer could have sworn he heard a jaunty “A bientot!” (“See you soon!”) as she sped away.