Just nod and drive on.

By Madge Christensen
This item appears on page 57 of the January 2013 issue.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is MADGE CHRISTENSEN of Greenwood Lake, NY:

Back in 1997, before there were GPS units in rental cars, my husband and I stopped a lovely young couple to get directions to a B&B we had reservations for in a small town in France.

My husband lowered his window and asked about the B&B address. The man apparently spoke no English and began to explain in French how we should proceed. My husband speaks only English, but I had had a few years of high school French.

I couldn’t quite hear all that the man was saying and strained to catch whatever I could. Then I heard my husband say, “Éclairs? Oh, yes. I love éclairs. So delicious!”

Since éclairs have nothing to do with directions, I did a quick French vocabulary run through in my mind. As I was doing so, I noticed the Frenchman looking strangely at my husband and shaking his head.

Realizing we would not understand further, we thanked the couple and took off. We still had no clue which way to go, but as we turned the corner and saw the nuclear power plant in the distance, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. Our Frenchman was saying “nuclear.”

We still tease my husband about it when we pass nuclear power plants, pointing out the “éclairs.”