Pharmacy poster image by Andre Renoux

A Publishers Weekly review for 'Words in a French Life' has just been posted! See "Editorial Reviews" at:

une ordonnance (or-doh-nahns) nf = prescription; arrangement ; order, ruling (judge)

Un beau désordre vaut mieux qu'une inerte ordonnance. A good disorder is better than a lifeless arrangement. --Eugène Savitzkaïa

A Day in a French Life...
The two wicker chairs in the pharmacy are prise* and so I take my place in the queue* which winds back to the curative tea section, near the entrance.

The teenagers in line ahead of me are French-kissing, causing me to blush and hide my face so as not to embarrass them back. A woman "of a certain age" walks in and my troubles shift from lust to politesse* as I become concerned about how to discreetly give up my place in line; if I offer it, Madame might be offended--as if I had decided that she is old and feeble. Before I fret further, Madame edges forward and eventually gets ahead of me so that when the next register frees up all I have to do is let her have it.

Finally it is my turn. I hand over my ordonnance* and the pharmacist squints her eyes trying to decode the doctor's gribouillage* before pulling out drawers and opening cupboards to locate the "cures". As I wait, my eyes pour over the druggist's shelves and, once again, I am reassured to know that the French are flawed.

From ballonnements* to bad breath, indigestion to ingrown toenails, flat hair to foot odor, pellicules* to pimples, weight to warts, hair loss to hemorrhoids--their humbling ailments are as far-reaching as the pharmaceutical shelves.

Blistered, bloated and downright bugged (as evidenced by one entire shelf of poux* remedies) the glamorous French have not been spared. And while these hiccups to French perfection are spotlighted and screaming from pharmacy displays, the sprays, balms and bandages whisper the ordinary folkness of the French and I am now soothed and less alienated in this foreign land. Speaking of alien, my eyes return to the French kissers at the next register, who are positively over the moon.

References: pris(e) (prendre) = taken; la queue (f) = line; la politesse (f) = politeness; une ordonnance (f) = prescription; le gribouillage (m) = scrawl, scribble; le ballonnement (m) = bloating; les pellicules (fpl) = dandruff; les poux (m) = lice

Listen: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word ordonnance: Download ordonnance2.wav
Expressions: rédiger une ordonnance = to fill a prescription

To read: Almost French: an Australian woman's adventure trying to fit in with the French

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