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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Foreign to me now: laundry chutes

There’s a dishwasher in the apartment I’m subletting and, after several months, I’m finally getting used to it. It’s the first time in my post-high school life that I’ve had one. Unloading the lave-vaisselle, I got to thinking about other things that used to be commonplace to me but are now totally weird concepts to me.

Like laundry chutes.

A laundry chute is a ventilation duct that’s installed vertically through a central part of the house so that you can throw clothes into it on one floor and it will fall to the laundry room in the basement. Needing this kind of thing sounds completely insane to me now but everyone had one. The house I grew up in was both big enough and had enough people in it that the chute’s existence was justified, but my BFF’s house was a ground floor and then a sunken basement and I remember thinking that hers, an actual trap door in the hall closet that revealed a chute no more than a few feet long, was preposterous.

John McClane knows what it feels like to be in a duct. (A TV dinner.)

John McClane knows what it feels like to be in a duct. (A TV dinner.)

Besides the convenience factor, having a laundry chute enabled my brother to pull one of the greatest pranks in my family’s history. He stuffed a pair of jeans with dirty clothes and attached his sneakers (I think with safety pins) to the bottom seams. Then he fed the half-dummy into the laundry chute from the third floor where there was a bend in the chute… and then he started yelling for help. At the time, we were all terrified because he was making like he was going to suffocate and my father was pissed that somehow we were going to have to rip the wall out to save him, but it was all just the creation of a teenager bored out of his mind. Over the years, I’ve found this memory to be more and more funny, but I doubt my mother would agree.

Fun French Fact!

“Chute” comes from the French word that means “the action of falling.” A French chute can also be a waterfall or a place where water runs very quickly, making it the cousin of “sluice“!


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Word Mystery: bleach / lejía / eau de Javel

Word mysteries are where words in languages that I know don’t correspond to each other at all despite those languages often sharing lexical histories. These words are both mystifying (why are they different?) and annoying (why must you be different?!).

bleachMan, that flu really knocked me on my ass. I was basically useless for six days, a personal record, and went through a box and a half of Puffs. When I’m sick, I just sit and blow my nose all day and then throw the tissues on the floor because I’m sick, dammit! This means that once I’m better, I have a lot of picking up to do, but for good measure, I also like to sanitize the hell out of my living space. If I could, I’d boil everything (myself included) to make sure that every germ was killed and not coming back, but as that’s an impossibility, I turn to the two next best disinfectants: lemon cleaning products and bleach… bringing us to today’s Word Mystery. Continue reading


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Vehicular Identity Crisis

This is a bit sillier than my usual fare but my sixth sense picked up a bumper sticker proclaiming Catalan allegiance… as well as a whole lot of other stuff.

Sybil's car?

Sybil‘s car?

Let’s take a look at what we have here:

  • The Catalan symbol, above the VW logo, is of an ass (no comment).
  • A sash with the colors of the Italian flag and “Italia” written across it.
  • A Grateful Dead sticker.
  • A newt (?).
  • A prancing bull.
  • An American flag above an Italian one, indicating some kind of unity/coalition.
  • An Airborne sticker, possibly referring to a “multi-cultural contemporary jazz group” in Connecticut.

Learn something

The prancing bull may be an allusion to Spain, though no one would claim to be both Catalan and Spanish.

Many people believe the bull, specifically the bull pictured below, to be the official symbol of Spain but it’s not. This macho bóvido was originally a billboard for a Spanish alcohol company called Osborne which is pronounced Ohz-BOAR-neh because Spanish people are ridiculous.

"Macho" is the Spanish word for "male" and came to have its meaning in English because... well look at the size of his machismo.

“Macho” is the Spanish word for “male” and came to have its meaning in English because, well, just look.


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My favorite meal

Honestly, another thing I would eat all day, every day and never tire of: plain Cheerios and a bunch of cold milk. I like to keep my Cheerios crunchy so I use an advanced eating technique called janelling where you put the dry food in your mouth, then take a drink, mixing it all together as you chew. Sadly, a normal-sized box of Cheerios in Paris is too expensive for regular consumption so this is a treat I seldom enjoy.

Mr. Bear also likes Cheerios

Mr. Bear also likes Cheerios and milk

Learn something

Original plain Cheerios are only made in the US. In the UK, their “regular” kind is Multi-Grain which I don’t like because it’s sweetened and therefore gross. Unfortunately, this kind is available in more places here and is cheaper which is a double insult. The kicking-me-while-I’m-down award goes to Honey Nut Cheerios which you can seemingly buy anywhere, even in Spain, and which I can’t stand in the slightest because they’re chock full of sugar and yuck flavoring. (I assume that last part as they taste yuck but I haven’t actually checked the ingredients).


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Saturday Spectacular: Lego Michael

phil_hartman-as-ed_mcmahonA special Saturday post to spread the word of this fantastic video of a Lego Michael Jackson dancing. I’ve watched it several times now and start laughing at a new bit each time which is amazing, considering it’s only 30 seconds long. So funny and so well done. Unlike tomorrow’s Oscars will be (hey-oh!).

Lego Dance by Annette Jung from Talking Animals on Vimeo.