Pepé je peux

Now that Claire has patiently corrected one of my spelling errors pour la énième fois, I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns. Or the skunk by the tail.

How is it that I always opt for je peut instead of je peux? That x looks wrong, the longer you stare at it, and frustration only makes things worse. If I can say it so often and so energetically, why I can’t spell it? I could drop the whole thing and write the more literary je puis, but skirting the issue is no way to learn.

Seeking to curb this bad habit once and for all, I turned to Projet  Voltaire for help, but it’s easy to ace a simple exercise if you’re on red alert for a particular error. When a cartoon character from my youth popped into my head the following day, I wondered whether the character’s name might serve as a mnemonic device and decided to follow where a stinky French skunk led.

Created in 1945, Pepé Le Pew has become politically incorrect, if comments on YouTube are any indication. A lot of outraged people see him as a stalker, rather than a perpetually lovesick guy who is doomed to rejection because of his smell.

Okay, so he does come on strong, too strong for some. But next time I conjugate pouvoir (or vouloir for that matter), thinking of Pepé Le Pew as Pepé je peux may help my knee-jerk reaction as I consider that x. It doesn’t hurt that an animated film based on this tragicomic character with a terrible French accent is under development. There’s nothing better than a romantic buffoon, and who doesn’t love a good malapropism every once in awhile? More power to writer Max Landis for reconceiving Pepé. Fingers crossed that je peux regarder ce film one day, Warner Brothers willing.

— Linda

 

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