Here's a bit more info. I've made some progress and found a work around but I'm not sure why it's necessary. To step back, here's my basic site setup:
1. Require 2 menus, MenuA(Private) and MenuB(Public)
2. Most but not all content is to be bilinugal (en, fr)
In order to get my menus to work I set their StartingNodeUrl to Private.aspx and Public.aspx. My understanding with localization was that if the "strinct" setting wasn't set then it would just use the default language instead. So when I was at page MenuB -> Page 1 and hit the lang toggle, it would complain that it couldn't find node Private.aspx. (note Private.aspx and Public.aspx are both set to not appear in navigation as they are only used to group). I had to manually create the french version of Private.aspx and Public.aspx to make the error go away. So there's my work around....
... but not there yet. Now I see the french version of Page 1 with no errors, but I don't get any menu items, both menu's are completely blank. The only way to get an item to appear is create the french version. This isn't an option for me since not all pages will have french versions. What to do???