un rang
un écart


le coin (kwun --silent n) noun, masculine
1. corner
2. part
3. area

le coin bureau = the work area
le coin repas = the dining area

les gens du coin = the locals
coins et recoins = nooks and crannies
va au coin! = go and stand in the corner!
mettre un enfant au coin = to put a child in the corner
rester dans son coin = to keep to oneself
laisser quelqu'un dans son coin = to leave somebody alone
le coin du bricoleur = the DIY department
un petit coin pas cher = a cheap, inexpensive little place
un regard en coin = a sidelong glance
le petit coin = the bathroom, the loo
les quatre coins du monde = the four corners of the world
la maison qui fait le coin = the corner house
chercher quelque chose dans tous les coins = to look high and low for something

Citation du Jour:

Tout ce que l'on cherche à redécouvrir
Fleurit chaque jour au coin de nos vies.

All that we seek to discover
Flowers each day in the corner of our lives
--Jacques Brel

A Day in a French Life...

On my way to Aix-en-Provence last Friday, I pulled into une station-service* to visit le petit coin.* I entered the gas station boutique and walked past the coin-operated beverage machines, pausing to eye the motley duo huddled around a high table: a paysan* in a faded chemise* and an elderly woman. The woman looked like she'd just stepped off stage at le Moulin Rouge. Her maquillage,* in tones of red and blue, was painted thickly above her eyes and across her lips. I was thankful she was not in cabaret attire. I continued to the back of the shop, looking for the door with the "Dames" caricature.

Pas de chance,* the ladies room was blocked off and a sign instructed patrons to use the next room (that would be the "Messieurs"...) No big deal, I thought. I've been in the men's room before, having walked past many a wall urinal on my way to the commode. (In my college semester in Lille we had to share the bathroom with les garçons*). Of course gliding past urinals in a nonchalant fashion takes time
getting used to, and the red never left my face even if my hands shielded my eyes.

Starting toward the men's room I froze in my tracks and couldn't lift my foot over the threshold. Backing up, I decided to check and see if the attendant was done cleaning the ladies room, and so I called into
les toilettes.*

"Oui, Madame," a man's voice echoed from a stall.
"Oh, so I'll just, uh, go next door, right?" I said in French with a heavy American accent.
"Venez. C'est bon." It's okay, I could come in. I was hoping he wouldn't say that...

I tiptoed over the wet floor, and selected the cabin farthest from Monsieur. The bathroom stall walls became paper-thin just as soon as I closed the door; it might as well have been a rideau* separating the toilets, and of course one could hear a pin drop just as soon as I slid the lever shut. I now stood hesitant atop the newly mopped floor.

Soon enough Monsieur began to whistle a tune from Les Misérables, and all I could think was "Whistle louder, please!" and then, as art would have it, I found myself immersed in that sad tune.

Humming along with Monsieur, I studied the diagonal designs left by the dirty mop and thought about the melody. Gavroche...Cosette? Victor Hugo!

My former gêne* turned into a burning quest to name that tune. Busy trying to pin title to chanson,* I forgot about Monsieur as well as my soucis.* Before long I was pulling on the chasse* and scrambling out of the stall to confirm that Monsieur was indeed singing "I dreamed a dream". N'est-ce pas? N'est-ce pas!

By then Monsieur had disappeared. I followed the hum and found another sign, this time propped outside the men's room. A few guys stood hesitant, eyeing the ladies' room, wondering whether or not to cross the threshold...

*References: la station-service (f) = the gas station; le petit coin (m) = the bathroom; le paysan (m) = the farmer; le maquillage (m) = make-up; un garçon (m) = a boy; le rideau (m) = the curtain; une gêne = an embarrassment; une chanson (f) = a song; un soucis (m) = a worry; la chasse (f) = the toilet flush; les toilettes = the bathroom

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