“Embrasse” is a great example of one of those French words that means roughly the opposite of what it looks like. A false friend, in linguist lingo. You would think an embrasse is an embrace… but that’s “serrer dans ses bras,” which translates literally as “holding tight in the arms” and doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. Evidently, the French have trouble even translating the word for “hug.” They’re not so much the hugging type.
Getting ready for Ethiopian Airlines’ Lubumbashi-Addis Ababa flight to depart. The last few passengers are boarding, we’re all getting settled in. I turn off my iPad and deposit it in the seat pocket in front of me, tuck all my other things under, and buckle my seat belt. I’m traveling alone this time and am lucky enough to have found a cheap fare in business class. Well, relatively cheap considering the cost of the competitors, and hard to turn down considering the overseas portion to Toronto will be on the brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. So here we are, me and my privileged and genteel neighbors, sipping champagne and refreshing ourselves with warm wet towelettes.
The older British gentleman in front of me drops his towelette behind him. It lands on my personal item, a Congolese-fabric bag with my travel folder and other not-entirely-waterproof goodies poking out the top. Not a big deal. In fact I don’t even notice it until I hear him complain to the flight attendant, “I dropped my towel!” and urge her to give him another one. I consider handing his towel to him, but then decide it could be construed as rude. It’s now soiled, after all, plus he might think I’m forcing his hand to apologize or something silly like that. So I simply pick it up and put it with mine for the flight attendant to pick up later. This maneuver requires me to unbuckle my seat belt and nearly exit the seat just to reach the items at my feet, the seats are so gloriously roomy.