Down the street, I see a Starbucks. It proudly advertises it has Internet access. I need to let my friends and family know I’m OK.

And yes, it’s moronic that my first baguette in Paris will come from a Starbucks, but I’m hungry and I need Wi-Fi. I stand in line, reading the menu. Everyone in front of me is young, thin, and chattering away in French. I wonder what I’ll say to the barista.

I’m sure he can speak English, but I have to use my French; I got a degree in it, for crying out loud. But I’m so nervous. It’s forty degrees Fahrenheit outside but I’m sweating bullets in here because I’m about to converse with a real French person for the first time in many years. I hope nothing comes out of my nose.

I give him my order. He understands. I exhale. Then he grabs a paper cup, a black marker and looks at me.

Prenom?” he asks.

Ok, I got this. He’s asking for my first name.

“Cathy,” I say. He stares at me blankly. Then I remember, I’ve got to drop the “th” sound because the French don’t understand that sound.

“Cah-ty,” I say, trying to make it sound French.

He still doesn’t understand.

OK, now what do I do? In my college French class, I was always “Catherine” so I blurt out that name, dropping the “th” and rolling the “r” with a percussive flare. He smiles and nods while scribbling “Catherine” on my Starbucks cup, and I feel like I’ve changed into someone else.

In Paris, I’m Catherine.