A quiet cove at Elba Island, off the coast of Tuscany.
avoir du culot
1. to have the audacity, to have balls, to have some nerve
365 Days of French Expressions. See the book.
Avoir du culot: Il faut avoir du culot pour dépasser ses limites.
To be daring: You've got to be daring go beyond your limits.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
My husband has a gift for finding hidden jewels in nature. To get to these turquoise-colored creeks or calanques or coves, he will scale cliffs, repel from flat rocks, or simply jump in when there is no other way to "get down there".
But one of Jean-Marc's biggest challenges is being married to a poule mouillée--a wet chicken (French speak for "coward"). And my challenge (besides being married to him) is knowing and respecting my own limits: while I now understand that I do not have to keep up with him and his risk-taking friends, I do need to accept those invitations that are more in line with my Wet Chicken Adventure Level. Make that Wet-Chicken PLUS Level, for I've come a long way.
While I will never again follow a group of Frenchies through a railroad tunnel (to them it was an obvious shortcut, to me it was la folie!), I will, as of last week, trespass... It was during our getaway to Elba Island, off the Tuscan coast of Italy, that Jean-Marc and I visited a lot of public beaches, but one day we decided to drive to "Algue Cove"... Wandering through a neighborhood of stately villas, we searched for a path to the sea. We soon found one, but it was marked "Strada Privata"....
"I'd rather not," I said, hurrying ahead of my husband. "Let's just go up here. Surely there's another way." And there was, if you didn't mind the north side of the peninsula where the wind was so strong our hair was twirling above our heads--making one of us look like an upside-down broom. Speaking of which, there was no clean way out of this predicament: if we wanted a tranquil beach, à l'abri du vent, we were going to have to soil our values and break the law (or at least the neighborhood rules)!
In the end it was no big deal. Those stately houses on this elite peninsula were all closed up this time of year. Il n'y avait pas un chat! We easily made our way down to the sparkling inlet, where Jean-Marc found us a nice spot on top of some flat rocks overlooking the turquoise sea. As my husband settled in for a nap, a strange impulse came over me....
Scoping out the cove and all of the visible houses (shutters closed in winter) until certain nobody was around...I threw off my clothes and hurried into my one-piece swimsuit. Now tiptoeing down the rocks, careful not to wake Jean-Marc, my adrenaline was so high I hardly felt the ice-cold water after quietly slipping in--and there, in the middle of tiny bay, I began splashing.
To no effect! Jean-Marc was oblivious to my antics. Now I was freezing--but determined as ever to prove a point. First I'd have to wake him up!
"Hey-oh! COUCOU! Jean-Maaaarc!"
My husband opened one eye. Then two. Now he was wide-eyed, just as anticipated! "Eh ben!" he said. (That's French for "well, what do you know!")
And that was exactly my point: that I am not always this way or that way--from picky to prude (I won't list every fault in between). "Things are not always black and white!" Having shouted it out--all those mysteries that still swirled within me--I blew my old man a kiss and swam like a flock of wet chickens back to shore. (Mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée!)
la calanque = inlet from the sea
la folie = madness
pas un chat = nobody around (not a cat in sight)
coucou = hi, hey there!
mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée = better a wet chicken than a frozen chicken
It's almost swimsuit season. I like this one. See others here.
La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated the best by Consumer Reports!
Eiffel Tower Peace Sign T-shirt, order here.
If you haven't yet read my book, please check it out. Many thanks! Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi