un pèlerin

un peigne

un peigne (peh-nyuh) noun, masculine
  1. comb

un peigne-cul =  a creep, a lout; a "heavy," annoying, irritating person
se donner un coup de peigne = to run a comb through one's hair
être sale comme un peigne = to be very dirty
passer au peigne fin = to carefully examine something
rire comme un peigne = to laugh stupidly

Proverb from Provence:
Sers-toi de ton peigne tant que tu as des cheveux.
Use your comb for as long as you have hair.

A Day in a French Life...

It's always the same. The object of our affection is ordinary enough...to others.

"What does she see in him?" they ask
"I don't understand what the big deal is!" they say.

A vrai dire,* it was not love at first sight. Ça non.* Necessity threw us together.

As it happened, I was perusing the aisles at the beauty supply shop back home in Arizona when I came to an abrupt halt. The first thing I noticed was his teeth. Smooth and wide. And his Frenchness. Indeed, he had "Made in France" written across his forehead.

"He'd make for a good groom!" I must have thought. I brought him right home with me. The year was 1992.

It took six or seven years for me to realize just how attached I had grown to him. You know how we take things for granted.

By then we were living in Marseilles, France. Perhaps it was the fact that we were both in a new country; that we were all we had from back home. The circumstances brought us closer.

All I know is that he has been with me on each trans-Atlantic journey since moving to l'Hexagone. He even followed me to Guadeloupe, come to think of it. And every time I take a shower, he is there, to help pass the cream rinse through my hair.

"He's not a good match for you," a woman at work once said, patting me
on the head. "You're too fine for him." Oh! What does she know? I reasoned.

He was present at my marriage, hidden away in a dark corner (évidemment!)* and he even touched my hair on the way to the reception.

And then one day a soi-disant* friend asked if I would "le prêter."* Oh, those French women! My first thought was, "Ew. How unsanitary!" I studied her heavy, shiny tresses, shocked by her request. "Besides, he's not right for you!" (Honestly, how thick can you be?!)

I do admit, I am hopelessly attached to him, so you can imagine just how ill I became when he left me last summer.

Like a paranoid lover, I suspected the French woman with the thick chocolate-colored hair had run off with him. She'd had her eye on him--and now!

"Have you seen him at her house?" I asked my husband. No, he assured me. He had not. "Don't worry, he'll turn up." Now that is an understanding husband!

It took losing him to realize how tied to him I'd become; my stomach (not to mention my hair!) was in knots over my loss.

I found him several weeks later, near my husband's trousse!* Instead of anger, I felt only soulagement.*

"Il est de retour!"* I shouted, pirouetting through the air on my way to pick him up. I took a good look at him: his surface scratched and dull from so many years of use. And rather ordinary looking, I suppose, to others. Not even real tortoise, but I wouldn't have wanted that--who needs real tortoise for a proper groom? Ce n'est pas le peigne,* I mean, peine.

Speaking of peignes, my comb remains safe in my own trousse. I'll keep a better watch over him next time, lest a thick or fine-haired maiden threatens to have me parting ways (instead of hair!) with Monsieur Peigne again.

*References: surtout = especially; a vrai dire = to tell the truth; ça non = not that; évidemment = obviously; soi-disant = so-called; le prêter = loan it; une trousse (f) = toiletry bag; un soulagement (m) = relief; il est de retour = he's back; ce n'est pas la peine = it's not necessary

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens