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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Word Outlier: tree

Tree in Place Vendôme, December 2013

Tree in Place Vendôme, December 2013

It’s Christmas-in-July all week! Get festive!

O, Christmas Tree
O, Christmas Tree
…why are you a “tree”?

EN tree —a woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground. ORIGIN Old English trēow, trēo: from a Germanic variant of an Indo-European root shared by Greek doru [wood, spear] drus [oak].

The Spanish árbol and French arbre both come from the Latin (of course) arbor. Despite generally being annoyed with Latin (it’s in everything!), I find the English evolution to be suspect. I no longer like the word “tree.”

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Korean Cheetos

Cheetos are a thing I miss when I think about them. The cheesiness, the cheesy powder, the cheesed-out cheetah. There are no things I don’t like about classic, regular Cheetos. Except maybe that I can’t find them anywhere in Europe. (There are other flavors, but I want the original one.)

I came upon these at a Korean market I go to and couldn’t figure out what flavor they were until I asked the checkout girl. “They’re BBQ, see the BBQ?” she said, indicating the little grilled steak logo to the left of Chester (who’s kicking a football and not riding a skateboard — boo!).

“Sure, whatever,” I said and took them home.

The black arrow indicates the flavor.

The black arrow indicates the flavor.

VERDICT

They taste surprisingly like sweet BBQ. Like, creepily similar to actual BBQ. But they taste nothing like cheese. Final judgement: would eat again, but not an acceptable Cheetos substitute.

They look like this.

They look like this.


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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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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.