Having decided to further integrate myself into my French life, I swapped out my Kurt Vonnegut book for a French book I found in my studio, called Un secret, to entertainment myself during my 50+ minute commute to and from school.
On the way home yesterday, the tram was crowded and I was forced to stand. After a few stops, however, a man exited, leaving his middle seat vacant. Sitting down, I pulled out my book and attempted to comprehend a french novel. A couple of minutes passed when the french man sitting next to me, who I was about to discover was reading over my shoulder, said, "excusez-moi?"
I turned to looked at him and said, "oui?"
"What does 'bakélite' mean?"
"Oh, I don't know."
"Oh okay," he answered, sounding a little disappointed.
"Actually, I was wondering the same thing," I said, proud of carrying on an impromptu French conversation.
A few uneventful moments later, I got up to leave, when I heard the same man say, "but I haven't finished reading it yet!" We exchanged smiles and a quiet chuckle.
I looked up bakélite when I got home. It means bakelite, which was no help at all. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, bakelite is "an early form of brittle plastic, typically dark brown, ... cheifly used for electrical equipment." The author was describing the dog's eye color. Knowing I wouldn't have understood it even in English, being mistaken for a french girl feels like less of a mistake.