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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INT. METRO STATION, PARIS — EARLY EVENING

A station like this one.

A station like this one.

GIRL is on her way home, her feet leading her along the familiar path to her train. MUSIC playing in her earbuds, she is minding her own damn business (as usual). Suddenly, a feeling comes over her, powerfully drawing her attention to a MAN and WOMAN walking ahead of her to the right.

GIRL
(under her breath)

God – damn – it.

GIRL is pulled into their orbit, despite her keen desire to just get home. GIRL does not want to deal with these people because they are the worst kind of people in the world: Spanish people. GIRL cannot resist the calling she feels in her very DNA and approaches the couple, reluctantly pulling her earbuds out.

GIRL
(in Spanish)

Can I help you navigate the Metro?

The MAN whips his head around to glare at GIRL, his lip already curled in disdain.

MAN

No! I know perfectly well how to navigate the Metro!

MAN makes a dismissive hand gesture, as if flicking GIRL away like a bug.

GIRL is suddenly supremely annoyed and decides to take a few moments out of her day to teach MAN a lesson.

GIRL opens her eyes wide in a look that appears innocent but she laces every word coming out of her mouth with sarcasm.

GIRL

Are you sure you know where you’re going? Because you can’t go down that way.

GIRL has indicated the direction the couple is heading in.

MAN

Yes I can! This is the way to go!

GIRL flits her eyes over to the poor WOMAN traveling with MAN and is not surprised to see that she is meek, embarrassed and unsure how to proceed. GIRL points to the sign directly above the COUPLE’s heads.

This sign

This sign

GIRL

No, you can’t. That way is an exit for the X train line. You actually can not go that way. I can help you get where you’re going if you’d like.

MAN sees the sign, understands that he’s wrong, that he was beaten by a girl. MAN becomes irrationally angry. As his face reddens, a train starts pulling into the platform furthest from where GIRL, MAN and WOMAN are standing.

MAN

See! That’s our train!

MAN grabs WOMAN’s elbow and drags her down two dozen stairs so they can race along the platform to the train. GIRL doesn’t move, she doesn’t run for any trains, and looks on, bemused. GIRL knows that two different train lines are serviced at that platform and that within the same train station, there are two more lines. MAN had a 1 in 4 chance of getting on the right one. GIRL hopes he’s not lucky.

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This French limonade is

…the Pschitt!

Pschitt soda

Learn something

This limonade was enjoyed in the Place des Vosges, a lovely little park that’s part of the 3rd and 4th districts here in Paris.

Fun French Facts about this Place include:

  • it’s the oldest square in the city
  • it’s the first planned square-shaped square in Europe
  • it has been home to Victor Hugo, Colette and Dominique Strauss-Kahn
  • it has beautiful arcades running along it
  • rumor has it that Napoleon may have conquered his first woman there as it used to be a spot where young officers engaged “ladies of the night”


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A pun I’m proud of

A friend texted me to meet in Place Bellecour in Lyon near the statue of Louis XIV. I was on my bike and didn’t respond right away since I was heading there. She texted back to see if I’d received the message. I responded, “L’oui!

It’s a little concerning how I crack myself up, but I’m not hurting anyone so I don’t really care what anyone else thinks.


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Word Mystery: ice cream cone / cucurucho / cornet

Wednesdays, I explore the linguistic origins of the same word in different languages.

In the summer time, when the weather is warm…I am frequently too damn hot to eat dinner. Sometimes, half a kilo of strawberries is a meal, other times, I’ll grab a sorbet on the way home to cool myself off from the inside out.

Earlier this week, I had a scoop of citron for dinner, but it didn’t compare to the delicious cassis I used to get in Lyon after a hard ride on a sunny day.

Glorious.

Glorious.

Nothing beats cooling my brain off after sorting out a Word Mystery though (I tell myself in the hopes that it’ll be true).

EN → ice cream cone — an edible wafer container shaped like a cone in which ice cream is served. ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting an apex or vertex): from French cône, from Greek kōnos .

ES → cucuruchoPapel, cartón, barquillo, etc., arrollado en forma cónica, empleado para contener dulces, confites, helados, cosas menudas. [Paper, cardboard, wafer, etc. rolled in conical form, used to contain candies, pastries, ice cream or small things.] ORIGIN From an Italian dialect’s cucuruccio.

FR → cornetGaufrette conique que l’on garnit de glace. [Conical waffle which is filled with ice cream.] ORIGIN Diminutive of corne, this from Low Latin corna [cone, horn].

English note: the origin reminds me of a time during my ESL teaching days in Barcelona. Another teacher poked her head out of her classroom and asked if anyone knew another word for “top” to help her class complete an exercise. Without a moment’s hesitation, I said, “Tip, apex, peak, acme, zenith, summit, climax, pinnacle. Do any of those work?” Everyone around me was shocked, but they didn’t even realize the super-scary thing I’d done. As an avid crossword-puzzler, I’d listed the synonyms in ascending order of letters. My mind is a terrifying place, full of words and oddness.

Spanish note: Italian, eh? I guess ice cream came by boat to Spain. Figures. There aren’t any good native desserts there. (I think flan is yuck to the max.)

French note: this was a little bit of a cheat today since I was fairly certain going in that “cone” would have a French connection, but I make no apologies.

C’mon. Do you even have to ask who today’s winner is? Have you *tried* saying cucurucho out loud? If you do, I guarantee that it’ll be one of the best things that comes out of your mouth all day.


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INT. PRET-A-MANGER, CENTRAL PARIS — DAY

Not this exact P*A*M, but it's a chain so, close enough

Not this exact P*A*M, but it’s a chain so, close enough

GIRL enters the UK-based fancy sandwich shop and heads straight to the cold case and grabs a New York Bloomer. GIRL loves a good meat on wheat with cornichons. GIRL goes to the drink station and liberates a ginger beer, heading for the counter.

GUY AT REGISTER

Is this all?

GIRL

Yep, this is all.

GUY AT REGISTER
(in exaggerated American accent)

Jin-jer beer-rah.

GIRL

Uh, yeah.

GUY AT REGISTER

JIN-jer BEER-rah.

GIRL

Uh, it’s really good. Have you tried it?

GUY AT REGISTER

What, this? Pfft! Not likely.

GIRL pays and leaves, totally confused about what just happened.

Ginger beerFurther Thoughts

The Guardian wasn’t too keen on PAM’s expansion.

The NYT has a hard-hitting story about PAM in the US.

The NYT also has a drink recipe that I may have to try since ginger is soooo refreshing.