Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Leave a comment

EXT. CORNER RUE DE LA PÉPINIÈRE AND BOULEVARD MALESHERBES, PARIS — DAY

Pretty much right here.

Pretty much right in front of the yellow awning.

GIRL is in an incredibly good mood. MUSIC blasting through her iPod, she’s strutting down the street, happily thinking of eating her Oops! All Berries when she gets home. GIRL sees a MAN and WOMAN ahead of her. THEY are looking anxiously at a tattered map. MAN is spinning the map in his hands, trying to make it match the corner they’re standing on. GIRL sees these people for what they are: Spaniards lost in Paris. GIRL decides not to be Spanish to these people. Instead, she will be American and offer her services.

GIRL 

Je peux vous aider?

MAN

¡No!

WOMAN elbows MAN in the ribs. THEY are lost and SHE knows it. MAN exhales loudly through his nose, unconsciously mimicking a bull.

MAN

Si — ah — ¿Sant Lazare?

HE pronounces it in Spanish, “San Lathar.” GIRL was totally right about THEM. Her day just got a little more awesome because GIRL loves being unequivocally right.

GIRL (in Spanish)

Yes, it’s straight down this street on the left. Do you see that big pink banner that says “the gallery is open”? It’s right before that.

MAN and WOMAN smile, relieved, pleased.

MAN

We were so confused! There are so many streets here!

GIRL

Yes, these intersections can be complicated, but to get your bearings, just look for the street signs. They usually have the district number on them and you can orient yourself by looking for the sun. As long as it’s daytime, of course.

WOMAN

But, you! Your Spanish is very good, too good!

MAN (to WOMAN)

Don’t you see that she *is* Spanish? It’s obvious!

(to GIRL)

But you have been away a long time, haven’t you?

GIRL (shocked)

Yes . . .

MAN

I can tell because you speak with a little French accent. Not much, your Spanish is perfect, obviously, but I can tell you haven’t been back in a while. There’s just a touch there, just a little French.

GIRL (staring)

. . . It’s been a few years, yes.

MAN is doubly pleased to be right about this. He smiles broadly, rolling forward on the balls of his feet, making himself a little bit taller, just for an instant. WOMAN beams at how clever he is. WOMAN hooks her arm through MAN‘s as they thank GIRL and begin walking east, toward the train station. (Maybe they are going to Burger King?) GIRL continues on her way, even more pleased than before because she was doubly proven right. Only in France is she both 100% Spanish and 100% American. It all depends on who’s asking.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

My Spidey Sense

The first time I remember my Spidey Sense kicking in, I was walking around Downtown Crossing in Boston, killing time between classes. I was suddenly compelled to enter a store that wouldn’t normally interest me. It was a place that sold weird alarm clocks and consumer weather forecasters and complicated calculators. I went directly to the back of the store and came face to face with this.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I used to collect lions and, though this was in the early days of my Felidae-fancy, I was incredibly excited by this find. I bought it on site and didn’t realize till I got home that it was also a flashlight, something I actually needed.

Since then, my Spidey Sense has pulled me down side streets, urged me to take alternate routes and accidentally introduced me to wonderful things. I trust in Spidey and will almost always follow where he leads. The sensation is what led me to discover that BK was in Paris: one day, I was walking along and, while turning my head to check for traffic, my eyes instead zeroed in on a familiar logo in the distance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most recently, I was stumbling around the Haussmann / Havre area in the 9è and my Spidey Sense stopped me short in front of this window. Can you see what drew my attention?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s a trick question, because what my Spidey Sense felt was that there were boxes of Oops! All Berries inside the store on the back side of this display. *I* would never have known it and may have glossed over the place entirely since it’s a kind of Urban Outfitters-wannabe that caters to teens and that’s not really my bag.

But the Oops! All Berries. I’ve never held a box that was so full of Oops! All Berries. Somehow, they had been shipped so that none of the berries were crushed, resulting in a box that felt solidly full. And when the cashier checked me out, she didn’t notice that the price in the computer was 20% less than the ticketed price. (I didn’t correct her because this was all part of Spidey’s plan.)

Moral of the story: Spider-Man is a force for good in the world. Trust in the Spidey Sense.


Leave a comment

God Bless America, Part 3

Prepping for my trip stateside, I proceeded to make lists. If I didn’t have my notebook handy, I’d fire up Any.do, the free app I use mostly for grocery shopping. I usually type in things that the app doesn’t recognize, like chix, which is my abbreviation for chicken, or ous, which is Catalan for eggs. So when I started to type in an item that I love, I was certain it wouldn’t autocomplete. I was wrong.

I don't know what "crunch back" is.

I don’t know what “crunch back” is.

Sadly, Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries is a limited-time cereal and wasn’t available from FreshDirect or Target.

Happily, when I got to my brother’s apartment, there was a box of the stuff in his cupboards. After recovering from my yell of surprise and contentment, I asked him what in hell it was doing there. “I saw them at the store one time and I thought you liked them but I forgot to mail them. It was a long time ago.”

Looking at the top of the box, the package indicated that the contents had indeed passed their sell-by date several months earlier. (Like, a whole lot of months.) Knowing that the contents were 100% chemical and that the only thing that could possibly happen to them was that they’d start degrading by half-lifes (apparently the correct plural of “half-life”), I opened it up. And ate a couple. And the eating was good, so I poured some into a bowl and washed them down with my Nice! milk. And I ate the whole box over ten days and it was glorious.

Even the milk in America is friendly.

Even the milk in America is friendly.