An American couple is in Paris, a much awaited trip, when suddenly the wife dies of a heart attack. The husband decides to have her buried there as the visit to France was something they had longed for for many years. All arrangements are made when he suddenly realizes that he doesn't have a black hat for the funeral. The hotel concierge tells him that what he wants is a "chapeau noir." So off he goes to find a store open late.
First he meets a gendarme and in his fractured French asks, "M'sieur, ou pouvais-je acheter un capeau noir?" (1)
The policeman is a bit surprised but, after thinking a bit, gives our friend directions. The store--if that is what it is--looks a little seedy and run down, but the man behind the counter looks friendly so in goes our friend. He speaks first:
"M'sieur, je veux acheter un capeau noir."
"Mais, monsieur, j'ai des capeaux rouges, des capeaux blancs, et des capeaux marrons, mais pas des capeaux noires. Pourquoi avez vous besoin d'un capeau noir?"
"Ma femme est morte."
"O Monsieur! Quelle beau sentiment!"