Thursday we went to Marseille for a few appointments. Jean-Marc took the opportunity to drive us through our old neighborhood, in Le Roucas Blanc (our first home was there on the left, behind the house with the blue shutters--at the end of the Impasse Gagliardo. On the hilltop, you are seeing the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde). We also passed the church in which we were married...see it at the end of this post.
Today's words: "sans dents"
-- without teeth
French Slang: Do you speak the real French? Essentials of French Slang book, order here.
Example sentence and sound file:
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L'homme naît sans dents, sans cheveux et sans illusions, et il meurt de même, sans cheveux, sans dents et sans illusions. --Alexandre Dumas
Man is born without teeth, without hair, without any illusions, and he dies the same way: without hair, without teeth, without any illusions.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
I am sitting next to a pile of clothes on my bed, trying to wrestle my foot into a high-heeled espadrille, the third pair of chaussures I've tried this morning. "You are only going to the dentist," Jean-Marc points out.
"Yes, but...she's so chic!" My behavior perplexes me as much as my husband, but I can only shrug my shoulders: I am a chameleon, most comfortable disappearing into the background. The neighborhood where Sylvie, la chirurgien-dentiste, is located is in a fashionable quartier in Marseille, and all my efforts to fit in will be en vain. In vain--such is vanity! I end up pulling on a pair of cowboy boots as old as my firstborn. I know the women in Marseille will be wearing ballerinas or sandals, but the women back home in Arizona...well what do I know about Arizonans anymore?--I've lived in France half my life!
And it is showing. At 50, I soon learn my teeth are in grave danger of le déchaussement: loosening and eventually falling out!
"You have beautiful-looking teeth," Dentist Sylvie (who I met at Flavia's) assures me, but beneath it all la maladie parodontale is underway. Sylvie shows us (I've dragged Jean-Marc along for a consultation, too) our radios. "Do you see those tâches noires? Evidence your bone mass is diminishing!"
Having worked on the American military in Italy, Sylvie's assistant, une hygiéniste dentaire (also named "Sylvie"); chats with me about my countrymen until I am relaxed. She lowers the examination chair to get a good look at my pearly-whites (or pearly-wrecks?). A few flicks with a sharp metal probe and she runs right into inflamed gencives. "Not good!" As she alerts the other Sylvie, I am remembering past warnings, from my own belle-mère (Lynne, in Seattle, who lectures internationally on dental health), and another favorite dentist, Robert, back in Les Arcs-sur-Argens, who warned that if I did not begin wearing a mouthguard, for bruxism, I'd be in trouble down the line.
Here we are 20 years down the line and it seems this inflammation is, in part, related to tooth grinding (which may be related to anxiety). Stress has indeed been linked to periodontal disease! And gum disease is linked to everything from heart disease to erectile dysfunction (i.e. not flossing your teeth could lead to trouble below the belt). If that, dear reader, isn't motivation to floss your teeth and brush twice daily what is?
I leave Sylvie's office with an estimate for something called surfaçage radiculair (tooth planing and scaling) and something called "les Inlays-Onlays" (ceramic tooth fillings) which are designed to repair all those holes in my teeth, from nightly grinding. Overwhelmed, or dépassée, from all the information (and the cost estimate...) I wish I could just go home and gargle with salt water--like my wise Uncle Tucker! Wouldn't that, eventually, clear out all that bacteria living up underneath my gums? Or is something more radical (scraping around the roots...the "tooth planing") needed? One thing is sure, this dentist appointment chez Sylvie has been a wake-up call and I am grateful for that: I promise, from here on out, to brush my teeth twice a day, floss, rinse my mouth after every meal and to once and for all quit being such a worrywart! Stress seems to be at the root of every illness, doesn't it? More than gargling with salt water, I'd do well to take a chill pill!
Our daughter who turns 21 in September.
From the dentist's office we headed to Le Cercle des Nageurs--the oldest swim club in Marseille--and where Jean-Marc and I had our wedding reception back in 1994. We were here to meet our daughter for lunch, and then take her to her meeting at IICC (Institut International de Création Et de Coupe). What a coincidence! 23 years earlier, pregnant with my son, I tagged along with my friend Suzanne who, like Jackie, had an appointment at this very same fashion school.
That's Suzanne, to my right. This was our Town Hall marriage. The church wedding was a few months later (church picture below)
I vaguely remember walking up La Canebière, searching for the building which was located beside a cathedral. And I can almost see Madame Ortega, with her shiny auburn hair who is presently greeting us...but not before chewing out her assistant (who up until now had done a smashing job showing us around) for leaving the door wide open.
"What do you want--all of our computers to be swiped? GO CLOSE THOSE DOORS!" Having put her cohort in his place, Madame took her seat. My eyes took in every inch of this colorful personnage, all the way down to her red-lacquered toes. Jackie was as intimidated as the rest of us, and vowed after the meeting never to be in the crosshairs with Madame.
For the second time that day (after the dentist's) we were given a rundown of fees.... and my mind reeled with it all. I looked over at my daughter (who was still agonizing over the school workload she was about to commit to) and I said, "What if we just chuck it all and go live on a horse ranch in Montana?"
What with these cowboy boots, one of us would fit right in!
Notes: Chirurgien-Dentiste Sylvie Bensoussan offered me a bilan, or dental check-up, in her state of the art office at 7 Parc Jean-Mermoz. More info at her website.
I am now using and loving this toothpaste and have bought soft-bristle toothbrushes for JM and me. It's a start! On my goals list: to get an oral irrigator. Would love your thoughts. Do you use one?
Update: Thanks to your recommendations I have ordered the Electric Rechargeable Sonic Toothbrush
FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW
les dents = teeth
les chaussures = shoes
le chirurgien-dentiste = dental surgeon
le déchaussement = receding of gums, loosening of the teeth
la maladie parodontale = periodontal disease
la radio = X-ray
la tâche noire = black spot
la gencive = gum
hygiéniste dentaire = dental hygienist
la belle-mère = mother-in-law, stepmother
surfaçage radiculaire = root planing
dépassé(e) = overwhelmed
personnage = character
le bilan = assessment, appraisal, check up
Jean-Marc and Jackie, at her rdv at IICC Fashion School. I wonder if my friend Suzanne is reading, today, and if she remembers her own interview in this historic room!
Saint Antoine de Padoue, the church in Marseille where Jean-Marc and I were married in 1994.
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