Volume I

un gancho

                           Sur la plage--On the beach in Agay's bay

Today's word appears to be regional and is difficult, if not impossible, to find in a French/English dictionary... That's not to say you should miss out on the fun of using it!

le gancho (gen-shoo) noun, masculine
  1. "le crochet" or hook, peg

Expressions and Related Terms:
faire le gancho = to pick up on someone, to ogle or "eye up" a girl (from the action of squinting, or "winking")
un ganchou = someone who is "twisted". One who behaves like un ganchou would be acting in a maladroit or twisted (strange, odd) manner

Citation du Jour:
S'accrocher au connu, c'est rester prisonnier de l'ignorance.
To cling to the known, is to remain prisoner of ignorance.
--Yvon Rivard

Seated on a cool chaise-longue facing the sea, I listen to the cry of French seagulls and the soft crash of Mediterranean waves. Our friends Véro and Tony are having breakfast sur le sable;* I watch the latter divide up an ananas.*

"Tu voudrais un morceau? Would you like a piece?" he says.

I accept a thick yellow disk and settle back into my chair, keeping two feet in the sand so as to have all my senses reeling, especially to the sound of le goéland,* the feel of so many tiny round warming beads under toe and, now, the sweet and sour taste of exotic fruit. Vacation is a time to come back to one's senses, the very receptors that get muddled and sometimes numbed in the train-train* of daily life which rushes by.

Tony is a docker at Europe's third largest port--Marseilles. As we enjoy the ananas he explains that "le gancho" is the the union emblem on the T-shirts worn by his colleagues. With that, he raises a muscular arm, crooks his forefinger and elaborates:

"Le gancho is the hook we use to pull in 80-kilo sacks from the ship's cargo."**

"Gen-shoo," he repeats, helping me to understand the word's pronunciation, which sounds more like Japanese than le Français:* like a fizzy, ginger-based power drink one might down before a grueling climb up Mount Fuji, or a tongue-burning condiment to accompany a fish-backed ball of sticky rice.

Next, Tony squeezes one eye shut. "It's also the word for someone without an eye, or someone cross-eyed. Imagine a hook landing in your eye..."

On that note, he turns to the beautiful woman sitting beside him.
"But there is one more expression we use in Marseilles..." he says, eyeing his wife. "Faire le gancho."*

The couple's eyes hook just then and a long, nostalgic gaze ensues, making me wonder about their meeting over a decade ago.

*References: la chaise-longue (f) = deckchair; sur le sable = on the sand; un ananas (m) = a pineapple; le goéland (m) = seagull; le train-train (m) = the humdrum routine; le français (m) = French; faire le gancho = to pick up on someone **see an image of the gancho in action (at the following website, go to "photos"; click "cafe" then click on center image

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