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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Alpian Way Loot

This loot came from New York via Geneva, Switzerland so I wasn’t sure what to call it. Running a search through my brain, I couldn’t come up with any good movie connections or even mildly amusing puns related to Switzerland…which is kind of Switzerland all over. Everyone’s very friendly and everything’s very clean but the place is not exciting.

Loot Swiss
Pictured

  • New York Public Library tote bag 
  • Coach wrist bag  
  • 2 pairs of Smartwool socks
  • The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed 

Things to be learned from this collection

  • One can never have enough tote bags.
  • Due to the Paris metro card’s sensitivity to magnets, I can’t carry mine in any of my bags, hence, wrist bag.
  • In the sock business, you get what you pay for. I had to throw out the four pairs I got from JCrew last autumn because they had no elastic.
  • Everything, even medical ailments, can be solved if you have the right book.

Things I’ve already learned from my book: it knows I love etymology and torturing myself!

RA book excerpt

It’s like it sees into my soul.

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I Want The Same!

Walking down a section of the rue des Petits Champs in the 2è, I comment to my New York companion that it’s like Canal Street because there are a lot of shops that sell knock-offs. At that precise moment, we pass this, one of my favorite places in town.

I Want The Same

I Want The Same

I sometimes go out of my way just to pass it because it makes me smile every time.

Related to me

On a road trip through southern France with my best friend in 2003, we stopped in a small shop to buy some water. There was a British family in there getting supplies too. The father was losing patience with his two kids and told them to just choose one thing and head to the register. The daughter hadn’t made up her mind yet, so her dad grabbed one item near her and turned away. Very primly, she pulled on the bottom of his shirt and with a little frown, said, “No, daddy. I don’t want _that_ one. I want this one” as she indicated a different thing. Maybe you had to be there, but that little girl still makes me laugh.


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I like New York in the fall

Midwestern high school football weather is my favorite time of the year. It’s when the days are sunny and warm enough for jeans and a t-shirt, but the evenings require a jacket (and if you’re me, a hat and scarf and gloves). You can still feel the sun heat your skin but at night, you might see your breath.

I haven’t actually been in the Midwest since 2001, so I had to make do with New York in November this year. It was a touch too cold (and windy, which the Midwest usually isn’t — flat land and land-locked means nowhere for the wind to come from), but the colors were pretty and almost New England-y (which does leaves better than anyplace else).

Learn something before the weekend

New England is made up of, from north to south with a westerly heading: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. In many respects, sports fandom in particular, they function as one state of mind, so it’s not that surprising that Ben Franklin made them the (collective) head of his famous woodcut “Join, or Die.”

join_or_die


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Happy Thanksgivukkah

jdate_fr

The day before I left Paris for the US I noticed ads like the one pictured at right all over town.

JDate, in case you can’t tell from their pretty straightforward logo, is a dating site for Jewish singles.

Days later, while in New York, I saw ads like the one below which alerted me to the confluence of events now known as Thanksgivukkah (since Americans will never turn down an opportunity to portmanteau).

Gobble Tov

People who can math have said that this is the first time in history that both holidays have fallen on the same day, though this is kind of a cheat since Thanksgiving didn’t exist as a nationally recognized date until 1863 and the Hebrew calendar isn’t as immutable as the Gregorian one (has been since 1582). Regardless, I won’t be celebrating either holiday for two simple reasons: I’m not Jewish and I don’t have an oven. (You totally need an oven for Thanksgiving.)

Turkey bread

In French, a turkey glougloute [gobbles].

Here’s hoping that next year I’ll be able to cook up a bird and some green beans and maybe get a fancy bread like the one I saw at Poilâne.

UPDATE: Man, I was really trying to avoid making more SNL references for a while but then HAIM, who appeared on my 2012 Winter Playlistreleased a cover of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” first performed on Weekend Update on December 3, 1994, so I clearly need to link to it.


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All the cheeseburgers I ate in New York

The first one is my traditional first-meal-back Shake Shack Shackburger but I was so hungry, so tired and so excited to eat it (and the shallot-n-cheese covered hot dog) that the picture came out terrible.

2013 Shack Burger 1

The second was a fancier pub style burger at 67 Burger which was also covered in shallots.

2013 Burger 2

The third and fourth ones were also from the Shake Shack, all from different locations. Upper East Side was first, then the original and best spot, Madison Square Park, and finally the Upper West Side (the least good one).

A good cheeseburger is my favorite thing.

Learn how it’s done

It makes me sad that most non-Americans think that McDonald’s sells a “classic” burger. Even for a fast food chain, they don’t make good burgers (I prefer Burger King in that race) but there are many, many different kinds which you can read about here. Some of them are among the best things to eat in the world. I like griddle burgers — meat that’s seasoned and slapped on a hot flat-top, causing it to get a crusty sear on the outside and provide lots of nooks and crannies for cheese to melt into. Mmmm, melted cheese on meat.

Obligatory SNL link

C’mon! It’s a classic! For a historical note, the cheeseburger bit was inspired by Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern. When I was stationed in that city for three months, I worked near the location said to be favored by John Belushi.