I had the most wonderful day. I spent a few hours at a French conversation group this evening at Le Pain Quotidien in old town Alexandria. This proved somewhat challenging, as I don't speak French, but it turns out it's not that hard. You just take your sizeable Spanish vocabulary, knock the stress to the end of the word, squeeze all the vowels so they're more oo-ey, swallow your R's, and fake the past tense by throwing in any random vowel before the infinitive. The only native speaker there complemented my pronunciation. In fact, we were reading some song lyrics, and no knew what the word rafale meant. "Well, I don't know," said I, "but it looks a lot like the Spanish word for machine gun burst."
I was right.
I even won a game of twenty (French) questions, which meant I had to come up with the next topic--which was difficult, but I managed.
And the woman sitting next to me was stunning.
(I was also amazed at the number of Republicans. Even in Virginia, I did not expect any overlap between tea party activism and desire to learn French.)