Primeurs (c) Kristin Espinasse
Fruit and vegetable crates at a corner market in Orange (Vaucluse).

une emplette
noun, feminine
a purchase


When Max and his soeur cadette, Jackie, offer to ride their bikes to the bakery, I request a little detour along the way.  "Please stop by the supérette. We're out of toilet paper!" 

The kids wrinkle their noses, complaining that they'll look carrément ridicule shopping for le papier WC.  But not wanting to lose the right to ride to town, they quickly come up with a compromise.

"Can we get Sopalin instead?"  

I'm not crazy about the paper-towel idea, but have to give the kids credit for some creative problem-solving. 

Half an hour later, brother and sister return from les courses with a few unexpected purchases. Jackie, her cheeks crimson from the cool autumn air, hands me a package of toilet paper.

"It smells like peaches!" she says. "Sens-le!"

I sniff the fruit-scented TP. It does smell good! Still, I am suspicious. How did she suddenly muster up the courage to be seen in the toilet-paper aisle?  And what is that in the other bag?

As if on cue, Max pulls a bottle out of his sac à dos
Wine? Jean-Marc, walks into the room. He is as confused as I am.
"Pour faire plaisir à Papa," our 11-year-old Max explains.

Jean-Marc examines the bottle, amazed at the coincidence: the Côtes du Rhône wine is from the area to which we will be moving this summer!

Busy reading the label, Jean-Marc seems unfazed by the fact that his child has managed to buy alcohol. More than fazed, I am dying to know a few details about the booze purchase.

"It's a 2004," Max is busy talking wine with his dad. "It cost 6 euros 80 for the bottle!"

"But Max," I question, 'How is it that the store clerk let you buy wine?"

"I told him it was for my dad."

My eyes shoot over to Jackie. Eh bien! That explains the toilet paper confidence. She must have told the clerk that the TP was for her mom!

Putting away the groceries, I have a change of perspective and am no longer embarrassed about the toilet paper. All it takes is to imagine the following Could Be Worse scenario:

Early Sunday morning at the supermarket. Two little kids run up to the check-out line (peopled by all of our nosy neighbors!), and plunk down a bottle of wine. In breathless voices they explain, "It's for our Mom!"


Your Edits Here.  Is the story clear?  Better to leave off the final paragraph? ("It's for Mom!" may be a strong enough punch line, no? Thanks for your thoughts here in the comments box. 

French Vocabulary

la soeur cadette

little sister

la supérette
small supermarket

carrément ridicule
completely ridiculous

le papier WC (also le papier toilette)
toilet paper

le Sopalin (from "Société du Papier-Linge")
paper towel

les courses

smell it

le sac à dos

pour faire plaisir à Papa
to please Daddy

Côtes du Rhône
wine grown in the Rhône region of France

eh bien!

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