Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

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“We’re going to get cut off. I’m heading into a tunnel.”

I had a perfectly good post all ready to publish today about a movie poster I’d seen around town but then the damn thing turned into a news story and was even picked up in the US, so I had to scrap it.

Originally, I was going to talk about the difference in attitude about sex over here (cliché but nonetheless true) and how I could imagine how American parents would flip the fuck out if their children were exposed to such filth in public. I can imagine it ’cause I’ve been there.

When I was 11 or 12 (seventh grade), I was in a group in my social studies class that had to give a presentation. As it happened, at home we had some copies of Spanish society/human interest magazine ¡HOLA! that had photos of exactly what our subject was (something to do with architecture in different climates), so I brought them in as my visual aid.

Now, ¡HOLA! is like People in the US and exactly like its sister publication in the UK, HELLO! This is the magazine you flip through at the doctor’s office or while you’re at the check out. There is nothing objectionable in it; being mildly insipid is part of the mission statement of these types of periodicals.

And yet, a couple days after my presentation, my mother got called to the school. Many parents had called to complain that I had brought pornography to class and, under my teacher’s nose (!!), had disseminated this material to my classmates. My mother was totally confused and when she confronted me, I had no idea what she was talking about.

It turns out that the little horn dogs in my class had flipped through the magazine and found an ad for Fa, a Spanish shower gel. I can’t find a copy of the ad anywhere, so I’ll just have to describe it. There’s a woman taking a shower under a stream of water in the jungle. She’s facing away from the camera and there is foliage covering at least the bottom half of her butt. She’s got a lathered sponge in her right hand and is scrubbing the left side of her waist. Her left arm is raised into the spray of water. You can’t see her head (obscured by leaves), there’s no side boob and her legs are firmly planted together. I can recall the ad so clearly both because we studied it extensively at my house trying to figure out what was offensive about it and because Fa’s run basically the same campaign for decades, just changing the setting depending on what their new line of soap smells like.

There was precisely nothing titillating about the image. At all. But the boys had apparently never seen so much bare skin before and were so excited by it that they told their parents. Remember, many parents called the school. Like all the other times she was called about my “behavior” (there were quite a few), my mother basically laughed it off since there’s nothing you can do when you’re surrounded by rubes.

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Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

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