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méli-mélo

Melimelo
A méli-mélo of textures in this colorful vitrine taken at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Rosetta_1Rosetta Stone French (CD-ROM) is an award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps


le méli-mélo (may-lee may-lo) noun, masculine
  muddle, jumble, medley, hodge-podge, mishmash

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Dans le méli-mélo, j'ai toujours préféré le méli. In the hodge-podge, I've always preferred the hodge. --Jean-François Deniau

(The one time I ask Jean-Marc to find a quote and he comes up with this doozy.
"Can you translate that for me?" I say, baffled.
"In the méli-mélo, I've always preferred the méli," my husband replies.
"But, I know that! I mean, the quote doesn't make any sense!"
"I know," Jean-Marc sympathizes. "It's absurd." I notice the look on my husband's face: a méli-mélo of embarrassment and amusement, and a jumble of charm to me.)
.

Column_13
The man seated next to me on flight 118 from New York to Paris turned out to be a rabbi. A French rabbi who missed his calling as a fashion designer. "I might've been the next Tom Ford," he confided. Speaking of Gucci, he turned to the pretty Parisian to his right, in 34E. "What is your favorite purse?" he queried. I listened, surprised by what I figured to be an unorthodox subject for
a rabbi: haute couture.*

"Oh, I don't know. Tu sais,* I have many purses," the Parisian admitted. Amazed that one could tutoyer* a rabbi, I almost missed the rest of the conversation in which the rabbi said something about Longchamp being a favorite of his and that we ought to check out the boutique in Paris.

"As for cold cream..." he began, before extolling the qualities of a certain French cosmetics company. Was this a joke? I wondered, of the skin and style conscious scholar.
"So you're a rabbi?" I questioned, in disbelief. "What, then, is a rabbi?"
"Good question! That is exactly what we asked ourselves during the rabbi convention in New York," the man with the untrimmed beard replied.

The embarrassment that I felt from asking a stupid question quickly faded: I was only asking what thousands of rabbis were asking themselves over the weekend. One stupid question down, now was my chance to straighten out a méli-mélo* of information that I'd collected over the years related to Judaism.
"What do you call the hat that you have on?" I began.
"A Kippa."*
"And the other hat that you had on on top of that one?" I said, referring to the wide-brimmed chapeau* that he'd removed earlier.
"A hat," teased the rabbi, who went by the prénom* Mendel.

When I learned that Mendel did not teach in a synagogue I asked if that meant that he was a virtual rabbi. "Please, I prefer the term 'Traveling Rabbi'."

Around about then, the beverage cart came to a halt before row 34 and that is when the Traveling rabbi ordered a beer. A beer!
"Don't worry," Mendel said, noting my surprise. "C'est cacher."*
"Casher?" Oh, there was so much more to learn! Between cold cream, couture and casher--where to begin?

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References: la haute couture (f) = trend-setting fashions; tu sais = you know; tutoyer = to "tu" someone (to use the informal "you" in conversation); le méli-mélo (m) = mishmash; la kippa (f) = yarmulke, scull-cap; le chapeau (m) = hat; le prénom (m) = first name; c'est casher = it's kosher

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Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote:
Download meli_melo.wav
Dans le méli-mélo, j'ai toujours préféré le méli.

Selected Yiddish terms in American English w/ their French equivalents:
  chutzpah = le culot = cheek, nerve
  gelt = le fric = money
  kibitz = mettre son grain de sel = to meddle
  kvetch = se plaindre = to complain
  mazel tov = félicitations = congratulations
  mishmash = méli-mélo = hodge-podge
  nebbish = empoté,e = nerdy
  nosh = gouter = to snack
  schlep = trimballer = to drag
  schtick = le numéro = routine

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In Gifts:
LollipopsLollipops Paris Cell-Phone Purse

EspadrilleAnkle Wrap Espadrille

ImananceLancome Imanance Environmental Protection Tinted Cream SPF 15

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