Le cul entre les deux chaises

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

Ampule me once, shame on you


Here in la France, I’ve seen people taking pills at restaurants and in bars, something which I’m not sure I have seen in the US. I’m just speculating here, but it’s possible that for Americans, having to take any medication is a fraught topic. If I were having lunch with someone and they popped some pills in between courses, I’d certainly ask what was wrong with them. The wording of that question (“What’s wrong with you?”) is aggressive in the extreme, implying (or hoping for) weakness on the other person’s part. I think it’s the natural reaction any American would have and the most likely way they’d express it.

On the occasions that I’ve noticed people ingesting medication here, no one seems to find it comment-worthy which makes it note-worthy in my mind. The good news is that such blasé attitudes means that I’d actually seen people interacting with ampoules before, so I had a vague idea of what to do when I was confronted with this:


But, to be honest, seeing people from afar ain’t the same as actually knowing what to do, so I thought of movies where I’d seen people with ampoules and tried to remember what they did. In WWII movies like THE ENGLISH PATIENT, morphine addicts and nurses always had a tool like a file to saw through the marked ends to get to the drugs held captive inside. I ended up with a markedly less precise way of releasing the goods, but it got the job done.

Now I know that whenever I get a prescription, I need to request that the medicine come in an easily accessible form and that it not taste vile. Two important lessons learned and all I had to do was shatter an ampule all over myself to learn it! Another victory for expat-ery!


Author: le cul en rows

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

2 thoughts on “Ampule me once, shame on you

  1. Whoa, that is intense. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do either! I often take my birth control at bars b/c I am obsessed with getting the timing right down to the minute and I have no class, apparently, but other than that, yeah it is rare! Americans must be too nosy indeed.

    • My mother always said that so much movie-watching was rotting my brain but she couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve learned tons of useful / fun / interesting things through movies. For instance, I also know a lot of emergency medical procedures and how to deal with pregnant ladies entirely because of pop culture.

      PS. Being classy is totally overrated. People who worry about such things don’t enjoy life as much as the rest of us!

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