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How's Bayou? Celebrating Annie Versaire

Editor's note: This column by Keith Marshall was published on Mardi Gras. Since most of you don't remember much about that day, and since today is the actual anniversary of NolaVie going live, we are reposting it. Besides, it totally explains what NolaVie editor Renee Peck means about wrangling French puns in the accompanying story.

For decades at Madewood, we've practiced the fine art of Franglais -- the lighthearted conjugation of the two languages on either side of La Manche/ English Channel that creates amusing images, as Shakespeare first did in Henry V, where the British monarch's soon-to-be French bride struggles with strange new words such as bilbow (elbow) and nick (neck).

So it is to Franglais that I turn to revel in La Deuxieme Annie Versaire (second anniversary -- anniversaire) of my first column, ecrit le 11 Fevrier 2011, for the brand-spanking-new Web site, Nolavie.com.

(Here I must interject that the auto-correct function attempted to substitute "we bite" for Web site and switched to French to proposer "febrile" (feverish) for Fevrier, propositions worthy of English humorist Miles Kington, Maitre de Franglais and author of such notable missives as "The Franglais Lieutenant's Woman.")

The way we play it comes perilously close to a global version of Shirley Ellis's mindless chart-topper, "The Name Game." Surely you remember Arnold Bo-barnold and Mary Bo-bary? Our creations are not far behind in inanity. Witness:

Once, approaching a roundabout in France, Millie became Miss Sadie LeDroit (cedez le droit = yield right of way). And it always elicits groans when I address her as Sally Manget (no relation to the New Orleans family) when we enter a dining room (salle a manger).

Mr. Kruse, my all-around construction guy and nanny to Miss Clio when we're out of town, became Mr. Leo Baldaquin when he was restoring a canopied bed (lit au baldaquin).

Shirley Ellis never had it so good.

Our efforts are almost as bad as some of the phonetic manipulation of "credits" on NPR's Car Talk -- Legal Counsel: Dewey, Cheatum & Howe; Pavlovian Consultant: Isabelle Ringing; Russian Chauffeur: Pikup Andropov; and Credit Manager, Max Stout.

I trace my fascination with twisted linguistics to a book of cartoons, "The French Cat," that I received on my 13th birthday. Along with illustrative drawings were such famous cats as Chat-eau (literally, cat water, generally considered a bad thing) and Chat-anooga Choo-choo. I never recovered.

It's been two years of excess and privation, a round-the-world trip and shopping at local Dollar Tree stores when things got tight at Madewood or Dixie. Miss Clio has hogged her share of stories, and most of the characters at Madewood, past and present, have been introduced.

It's appropriate that this anniversary comes at Mardi Gras (like Bobby Jindal's disastrous response to the President's State of the Union address in 2009 ... Marco Rubio: perhaps best not to begin your moment in the spotlight this Mardi Gras night with, "Buenas noches, y Feliz Carnaval!") -- as life is filled with ups and downs, Ash Wednesday on the heels of revelry.

But when it's all over, j'ai besoin d'un haricot. No, we're not out of beans (haricots). I just need a Franglais haircut.

How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.

How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.