Le cul entre les deux chaises

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

Breakfast Rabies


Stupid rabies. When am I going to stop having you?

gandhiIt must have been after seeing GANDHI that I asked my mother was fasting was. The movie came out in 1982, but, if you remember, VHS releases were sometimes two years after the theatrical one so I probably asked sometime around 1985. Shortly after being told what it meant, I put together that “breakfast” was the breaking of the period of not eating.

More than 20 years later, I had the same stupid epiphany in Spain. I had to go to an employer-mandated medical checkup (for insurance purposes) and was pretty annoyed that I’d had to alter my schedule considerably to make the appointment. When I got there, the nurse asked me if I was in ayunas and I stared at her blankly because I had no idea what she was talking about. Of course, ayunas is the back half of desayunar, to eat breakfast. I had to reschedule and go back another day, without eating, so I was triply pissed (rabies, no food, schedule change).

You see where this is going, right? The same thing happened to me again, but this time in French. I went to get some blood tests done for my doctor and the receptionist asked, <<êtes-vous à jeun?>> Was I “at young”? It seemed a weird question but people often ask me if I’m a student so I scoffed and said, “Not anymore!” She looked more confused than I had been, then explained that she was asking if I’d eaten. Jeûne like déjeuner. De meaning “un” and jeûne like “fast.”

Ugh. I had to go back another day.

Just to confuse the matter further

For the record, in Catalan, “breakfast” is esmorzar and “fasting” is dejuni. I fear I’ll never get these straight.

Author: le cul en rows

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

5 thoughts on “Breakfast Rabies

  1. Good story…like the word stories! (Suzanne)

  2. Now I have double rabies! I’d never heard the Spanish or French explanations. I need to soak this in. The Portugese, for the record, don’t break fast. Instead, they break the mold: breakfast is “pequeno almoço” (small lunch).

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