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la bave (bav) noun, feminine
dribble, slobber, slime ; foam, froth
La bave du crapaud n'atteint pas la blanche colombe.
The toad's spittle doesn't reach the white dove. --Proverb
(Or, as we say in English, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.")
A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse
Jackie and her friend Manuela, with faces painted red, white and blue, stood in front of our driveway holding their homemade flags. "Allez Les Bleus!" Go Blues! the eight-year-olds shouted (with a shake of their striped drapeaux*) each time a car drove past. When the girls weren't cheerleading, they were responding to the cries reverberating throughout our neighborhood. "On va les écraser!" the neighbors shouted from across the field of grapevines. "On va les écraser!" We're going to squash them! our girls replied. The passing cars honked in agreement.
Not two hours later, my son sat out on the front patio, his head hanging low. "I would have done the same!" Max muttered. "I'd go to pree-zohn* for you!" he swore, defending his hero, France's hero, to the bitter end.
The "end" wasn't supposed to turn out this way, not in France's wildest dreams. Zinedine Zidane, the player with the exotic name and exotic looks ("He's beautiful!" my mom gasped--and she wouldn't be the first), this 34-year-old captain of Les Bleus,* was set to go out in style, in this, the last match of his glowing career--The World Cup soccer final, no less!--until an incident led to his fall from grace.
In the second half of the game, Zidane injured his shoulder, badly enough that it looked as if he might go out in a sling, never mind going out in style. Such an exit, which would have been his saving grace, was not to be.
When "Zizou," as he is affectionately called, returned to the field, his arm cradled into his side, the French audience at the Olympic stadium in Berlin roared. ALLEZ ZIDANE! GO ZIDANE!
Zidane the star. Zizou the soft-spoken, modest, graceful one. Zidane the god, and, as we were about to understand, Zidane the transgressing mortal...
Busy commenting on the match, and in between bites of my mother-in-law's clafoutis,* our household was suddenly stunned silent. Did we just see what we just saw? A few seconds before, and the players were walking back out to field. The incident that we had barely glimpsed was soon replayed on video. There, in slow motion, we would see the players walking back out to field, then a closeup of Zidane, walking just a few feet in front of Italy's Marco Materazzi. We saw Zidane stopping after every few steps to turn and respond to something Materazzi was saying to him. Step, step, step, turn, and Zidane's lips would rotate in reponse to Materazzi's. Step, step, step, another lips rotation. Until... Step, step, step, turn. BAM!
BAM went Zidane's shaved crown, butting into the chest of his Italian opponent, Materazzi, as if the Italian were a two-ton football--one Zidane intended to kick to Enfer.* Imagine the force it would take to boot such a "ball" that far, and you'd understand the impact. Or the intent. For the headbutt, a carton rouge* was swiftly issued and just like that France's modest king of soccer was dethroned.
After a moment of silence, the French sports commentators responded. "On est sans mots!" We are speechless! they exclaimed. At the same time, the silence in our living room was stirred by Jean-Marc, who spoke for us:
"Non! Pas ça. PAS ÇA ZIDANE!" Not that, Zidane!
My mother, belle-mère, brother-in-law, Max, Jackie and I stared at each other, jaws dropped. What had just happened? What had provoked Zidane to do something so outrageous? The scene was truly hallucinante.*
"They said they would go to any lengths to get Zidane thrown out of the game," my brother-in-law hinted, of the Italians, as we stood outside on the front porch, after the match.
"Materazzi must have insulted Zidane, said something to dishonor his family," we speculated. Think of the worst revilement imaginable, and that must have been what rotated on the opponent's lips in that slow motion scene (or so we supposed, in our post-match stupor).
"If someone said something like that about my parents," Max repeated, "I'd go to pree-zohn for what I'd say back to them."
"No, Max. That's not a solution," Jean-Marc replied.
As the crickets screamed out their own injustices, into the cool night, I stood watching my son mourn his hero, he who had stumbled over a string a words pulled taught. A proverb from my childhood came to mind:
La bave du crapaud n'atteint pas la blanche colombe.*
References: le drapeau (m) = flag; pree-zohn (pronunciation for "la prison" = prison); Les Bleus = (The Blues) = France's team; clafoutis = creamy, egg-based desert with (often) unpitted cherries; l'enfer (m) = hell; le carton rouge (m) = red card (a card which expels the player, who will not be replaced); la belle-mère (f) = mother-in-law; hallucinant(e) = staggering, hallucinating; The toad's spittle does not reach the white dove = (English equivalent) Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce the French word "la bave": Download bave2.wav
Hear Max recite today's French proverb (above): Download bave4.wav
Terms and Expressions:
baver (verb) = to slober, dribble
en baver d'envie = to be green with envie
en baver d'admiration = to drool in admiration
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