une échelle

une jupe

une jupe (zhewp) noun, feminine
  1. a skirt

Also: un jupon (nm) = petticoat, underskirt; bit of skirt

aimer le jupon = to love anything in a skirt
être toujours dans les jupes de quelqu'un = (to always be in the skirts of someone) to depend on someone too much

Citation du Jour:
La rime est un jupon, et je m'amuse à la suivre.
The rhyme is a skirt, and I have fun chasing it.
  --Jean Richepin

A Day in a French Life...

My 7-year-old invited a friend over yesterday. "I brought my chaussons,"* the little girl said, adjusting her glasses with a forefinger and holding up a pair of fuzzy pink slippers with the other hand. "Chouette,"* said I.

The little mademoiselles painted their fingernails, donned colorful swirly jupes,* applied sparkly powder to their delicate visages* and danced to "Femme Like U" by K'maro, reducing themselves to giggles each time I inquired, "Qu'est-ce qui se passe ici? What's going on in here?"

For lunch we had four-cheese pizza and pommes frites.* When conversation came to a lull, our invitée* with the pink fuzzy pantoufles* remarked, "C'est calme ici."*

Jean-Marc and I looked at each other nervously. "So, do you have a brother or sister?" my husband said, breaking the silence. And with that a deluge of personal information spit forth like gargled red wine from the mouth of an oenologist:

"No, I have a gerbil. My dad chews gum every morning for breakfast. My grandparents watch "Attention à la Marche" which really annoys me! My mom's name is really Corinne but people call her 'Coco.' She prefers Coco. I was held back a grade, because I'm p-a-r-e-s-s-e-u-s-e.* My cousin lives in Corsica. I go to bed at 6 every night."

"You go to bed at six?" Jean-Marc said, beating me to it.

It began to dawn on me that my own children must be spilling les haricots* about us each time they go to their friends' homes. I can only imagine what they say about Jean-Marc and me...

I can just hear my daughter admitting:

"My dad wears a dress."

(What the other parents won't get the chance to understand is that it isn't really a dress per se--but a souvenir from Djibouti, Africa, where it's okay for real men to wear gowns (or traditional 'boubous') and where my husband used to audit hotels. He received the dress as a gift; it's since become his preferred lounging attire.)

Likewise I imagine Max saying:

"My mom scrapes her tongue with a potato peeler each morning."

(The potato peeler was, again, a gift--from my Sri Lankan neighbor who used to teach me yoga once a week. One of the lessons included hygiene and health, and the importance of cleaning the tongue. As he didn't have an extra tongue-cleaning apparatus to offer, he went to the kitchen and found the smooth "u-tailed" stainless steel peeler. I popped out the offensive blade and use the wide tail end to gratte.* It works so well I never bothered to order a real tongue scraper. I do, however, get strange looks at airport security.)

I suppose, taken out of context, those behaviors seem odd, but such rituals are beside the point. What's important is that we don't eat gum for breakfast and we don't sit in a vegetative state before the TV like two overcooked French leeks about to be pureed into a tureen of vichyssoise. We are just normal parents, sometime savvy dressers, (free of halitosis), and receptive to odd gifts.

*References: le chausson (m) = slipper; chouette! = neat!; la jupe (f) = skirt; le visage (m) = face; pommes frites (fpl) = French fries; l'invité(e) = guest; une pantouffle (f) = slipper; C'est calme ici = It's calm here; paresseuse (paresseux) = lazy; le haricot (m) = bean; gratte (gratter) = to scrape

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