Le cul entre les deux chaises

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



Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

→ My mother says that the Spanish aguacate [avocado] comes from the Nahuatl (pre-Spanish Mexican language) word ahuácatl, which also means testicles. Quoth she: “which, if you think about it, gives a new dimension to eating it.” It’s a wonder I make such weird connections to stuff sometimes.

handeggElizabeth mentioned that the term “handegg” had been proposed as a replacement name for that dumb sport hulking Americans play. I approved the change and then found Internet evidence that suggests this may catch on someday.

→ For a show that had elements of many of the things I love, namely 80s music and spy stuff, FX’s THE AMERICANS left me pretty underwhelmed. The highpoint of the first season was during the finale when the big moments were scored to Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers.”

→ James Cameron’s movies are horrible. Excepting ALIENS (which was based on pre-existing characters), all of his films feature terrible dialogue, worse plotting and zero character development. Given that I have such strong feelings about him and his œuvre (hi Ethel!), it may be surprising that I vociferously criticize the Spanish translation of “Sayonara” over “Hasta la vista, baby” in T2, but that line actually makes sense. The Terminator has spent the whole of the movie bonding with a young John Connor in Southern California where Mexican and surf cultures collide and where “Hasta la vista, baby” is a thing people actually say. Side note: I think about movies too much.

Actual names are the last thing I get to when considering a thing, but it turns out that there may be inherent qualities to some words that affect how we perceive the things being named. Gods, the last thing I need is more things to think too much about.

→ Oh, man. I didn’t think I could like Brooklyn less. After writing about how there’s a concerted effort to train the French to pick up their dogs’ poo in public, I read about New Yorkers who are now teaching their children to poop “on the ground or behind a tree.” It’s like Americans are becoming Spanish! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

→ I swear I’m going to stop thinking about rabbits soon but all my mental energy has finally cracked a life-long mystery. The Easter Bunny’s chocolate eggs look like rabbit poop. The Easter Bunny is leaving poop-substitutes for children. They aren’t eggs at all. They are turds. I find this sooooo upsetting, I can’t even tell you.

→ To cleanse the palette, here’s David Sedaris’s great story about American Easter and learning French. (Scroll down to “Jesus Shaves.”) I clearly remember the first time I read this in Esquire (my boyfriend), lounging on my sofa in my fourth-floor walk-up in Chinatown. How could it have been 13 years ago?


She’s (not) so funkular


My musical taste is heavily influenced by my brother’s taste when he was a teenager. I slept down the hall from his room in the early 80s so David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield and a bunch of other British rockers and prog-rocksters provided the soundtrack to my dreams. A favorite album of his at the time and mine for the rest of time was Peter Gabriel’s “melty-face one” (Peter Gabriel [3]). My sister and I sang along to one of the tracks, “Games Without Frontiers,” a million times, always singing “she’s — so — funk-u-lar” in the bit that’s between choruses.

We were totally wrong. The former lead singer of Genesis is saying, “Jeux sans frontières.” I feel both foolish and justified since the lyric we made up matches the sounds better. I blame the British school system for producing a creature with such poor French pronunciation.

Learn something


Misheard lyrics and other phrases are called mondegreens after a misunderstood line in a Scottish poem called “The Bonny Earl O’Moray.” A famous song one is Jimi Hendrix pleading, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” instead of “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” My brother himself had one that my mother loved. When he learned the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school and recited it back to her, he said, “One nation, Underdog” instead of “under God.” Who knows; the country might have been better off if it was protected by a plucky shoe-shine dog with an alter ego.