On behalf of clueless self-absorbed Americans abroad, please allow me to apologize.
You see what a nifty trick we have pulled in America? . . Only 231 years free of our British overlords and in that same space we have managed to take credit for inventing the English language! It's our breathtaking air of self-confidence like that which so endears us to the rest of the world . . .
Did she ask for your autograph?
It would have been pretty funny if you'd replied, "J'regrette, madame . .je ne comprends pas."
After I returned from Japan, a family friend from church, whom I have regarded for many years as a sort of honorary uncle, told me that while I was gone, he and the wife had gone to Las Vegas. At his hotel he saw a large party of Japanese businessmen and said that he very much wanted to go up to them and ask "Do you know Mary?" He didn't, because he was too shy (thank goodness for that), but he was sincerely under the impression that a table full of executives from a country of 150 million people would all be acquainted with one American English teacher residing in their country. I think these men were from Osaka, furthermore. Which would be like asking a guy from South Florida if he's met your friend . . in Maine.
Really, don't think of it as 'woeful geographical and cultural ignorance', but a childlike naivete. Makes it a little easier to take! :P
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