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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GIRL enters the Place Sainte-Opportune (aka the one with the Pizza Hut near Les Halles). She is hungry but knows that eating before a three-hour long movie is not advisable.

La Place Sainte-Opportune on the very day our story takes place. The Bagel Factory has a red awning and is to the right of center.

La Place Sainte-Opportune on the very day our story takes place. Bagel Factory is red and to the right of center.


Christ, I could really go for a smoothie right about now.

GIRL scans the Place and her eyes light on a newish awning that says, incredibly, “Smoothies.” SHE heads towards the establishment.


GIRL enters the shop and sees FOUR YOUNGER GIRLS already in line. The YOUNGER GIRLS have never had a bagel and the OWNER and his ASSISTANT are walking them through the steps of ordering. They are taking forever. GIRL looks at her watch, carefully calculating how many minutes she has to spare before she must leave so that she can be first in line to get into the theater. There aren’t many.

Finally, the YOUNGER GIRLS finish their order and sit at a table. GIRL moves to the front of the counter.


What fruits are available today?


I’m so sorry. The smoothie machine is in the basement. It’s new and hasn’t been installed yet.


Oh no!


Yes, it’s true. We have fruit cups —


(realizing how hungry she really is)

No, that’s fine. I’ll have a bagel.

GIRL quickly orders a sandwich off the menu. It takes her two seconds to do so.

The OWNER and ASSISTANT begin to prepare all five bagels at the same time. They do not have a routine established and are making lots of mistakes. GIRL, a former professional sandwich-maker at many mid- to high-end eating establishments, silently judges them, tsk-tsking away in her head.

The minutes tick by.

And then —

Over the RADIO, the familiar opening notes of Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” begin to play. The YOUNGER GIRLS all quickly look at each other over the table. The OWNER and the ASSISTANT begin to sway slightly behind the counter to the music.

And then —

ALL OF THEM start singing.


It’s — oh — so — quiet.
It’s — oh — so — still.

Not realizing that no one else knows the words, GIRL continues to sing


You’re all alone —
And so peace-ful un-til

The YOUNGER GIRLS, OWNER and ASSISTANT all look at the GIRL. There is a noticeable pause, like the space between a lightning strike and a thunder-clap. GIRL is wide-eyed, her ears pulled back, awaiting response.

EVERYONE except GIRL begins giggling and picking up where she left off, joining GIRL singing, mumbling to the song as best they can. Smiles all around as bagels are distributed.

GIRL heads across the Place, ready to face the line at the box office.

Author: le cul en rows

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

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