le sol
une épouse

la buvette

la buvette (boo-vet) noun, feminine
  1. refreshment bar; buffet
  2. pump room (in a hydrotherapy therapy spa)

A proverb from Brittany:
  Horizon pas net, reste à la buvette.
  If the horizon is gray, stay at the buffet.

A Day in a French Life...

Last Saturday I ran the buvette* at my son's basketball game. I've run a few things in my life: first base in Little League baseball (almost one season, before getting stuck outfield), a small paper route in Aspen, Colorado (where I spent my income on Pop Rocks and peluches*) and, recently, this virtual French letter-press. So you'd think it would be a breeze running la buvette...

And so it was that samedi après-midi found me sweating through all 4 quarters of the basketball game: wondering when to set up, debating over whether or not to ask another maman* for help, and soucieuse* as to if I'd brought enough to eat and drink for the collation.* I counted and recounted the joueurs.* Had more shown up today?

At the end of the fourth quarter I casually got up and shook on over to my stand; no need to walk, my nerves propelled me forward. I unwrapped the two cakes, unscrewed three plastic bottles and began unhitching the plastic gobelets.*

Should I start by slicing the cake? How many cups à remplir*? Just when minute details began to overwhelm, three little girls fluttered up to the bar. "C'est gratuit tout ça? Is all this stuff free?" they said, pointing to the fizzy boissons.*

Worried about what to say, I remembered the line the French moms employed to handle such pint-sized freeloaders: "First, the basketball players!" And so I said the same, only with a thick American accent. The little girls ran off, their parents glaring at me from the sidelines.

Another petite fille* moseyed up to the buvette. Her pigtails were all bent out of shape and she looked as if she'd been spinning through Tasmania for most of the morning. I'd soon learn to what extent of un petit diable* she really was.

When she grabbed one of the plastic cups I pointed out that the drinks were "pour les basketteurs!"* She narrowed her eyes and slammed down the cup. By then, another mom had arrived. "You can have it," the mom said, seriously cramping my style. Le petit diable de Tasmanie* sneered at me while snatching up the cup. "On dit merci! We say thanks!" I muttered, under my breath.

A rotation system determines which parent will run la buvette; the snack quantities are always the same: two bottles of a boisson gazeuse,* one bottle of juice and two yard-long industrial cakes. The buvette is for the players and not for the public: it is not for the basketteur's little sisters, or their giggly friends, or for mémé or pépé,* though they be proud, if thirsty, fans. Outsiders don't know the buvette rules (only recently did I figure them out myself) and tend to assume the snack stand is ouvert à tout le monde or open for all. C'est archifaux.*

Hopefully by now you are beginning to understand my angoisse* at running the buvette, knowing that part of my job included fending off the accidental freeloaders, at the risk of looking like a hoarder: a stingy, child-starving accumulatrix of pop and poundcake.

The basketball players finally arrived, and wouldn't you know they picked over the buvette like a bunch of fretful runway models about to slink down a Parisian catwalk?

"It is gazeuse?" one boy asked, pointing to a half-full plastic cup.
"I'm not allowed to have sugary things," another boy said, a concerned look on his face.

As the auditorium began to empty, I found myself with a table full of drinks and cake. Tasmania stood there gloating, cake in hand (and in hair). "Here. Tu veux boire?"* I said. "Take one -- Go ahead."

I slouched behind my buvette, eyeing the little blonde devil as we stuffed cake into our mouths in between gorgées* of Orangina and Coke. The next time I'll bring julienned carrots and mineral water, and perhaps un pèse-personne* in case the dainty dribblers fancy a weigh-in.

*la buvette = snack stand; une peluche (f) = a stuffed toy; une maman (f) = mom; soucieuse = concerned; la collation (f) = light meal; un joueur (m) = a player; un gobelet (m) = a plastic cup; à remplir = to fill; la boisson (f) = drink; la petite fille (f) = little girl; le diable (m) = devil; pour les basketteurs = for the basketball players; Tasmanie = Tasmania; gazeuse = fizzy, carbonated; la mémé (f) = grandma; le pépé (m) = grandpa; archifaux = totally false; l'angoisse (f) = anguish; tu veux boire? = do you want to drink?; une gorgée (f) = a sip; le pèse personne (m) = bathroom scale

More stories from my French Life in this book

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