The other day I met an old Penn State professor. When he heard my name, he said that he'd been trying to learn Russian for many years (ummmm, I am Bulgarian, but... hey... close enough) but he'd never managed to get past a certain level. He no longer remembered any of it except for one phrase. The phrase: eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. In Russian, of course. I hope I never get to use it, he said.
My mother-in-law has had a very similar experience with French, I told him. The one phrase that she remembers is: All we've got left are the gray ones. He laughed and said that her phrase might have even more limited usage than his.
What I didn't mention was that she, actually, DID have a chance to use her French. She was working at a boutique at the time and this beautiful French woman walked in, looked around and inquired whether they had a certain pair of gloves in brown.
No, she said. All we've got left are the gray ones.
The French lady left the store and five minutes later, Mary realized she'd missed the opportunity of a lifetime.