If you are ever in Sainte Cécile, please drop by Feuilles des Vignes and pick up a book.

Rock on, en français, with Mademoiselle K. Her album, "Ça Me Vexe," is available here.

The next word will go out on Monday (due to the pouring of cement floors around here...).

allonger (alon-zhay) verb
  1. to lengthen, make longer; to extend
  2. to stretch (out)
  3. to thin down (sauce), to water down (a drink)

Abréger son souper, c'est allonger sa vie.
To shorten one's supper, is to lengthen one's life.

The original quote, "To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals," is from Benjamin Franklin's book "Poor Richard's Almanack"

Allonger, it is as good a verb as any to represent the ensemble of words in the coming paragraphs, whatever they may be, and to give this anecdotal billet* a needed theme, however glib and on a spree.

Enough dilly-dallying. Our warm-up paragraph has served its purpose. Time now to enter our story, which is already underway as you will soon see by turning your attention over there, to the Cécilien* curb on which tables of books, in French and English (mostly français*) and colorful racks of cartes postales* turn quickly or slowly according to a tourist's whim.

Beyond the books and postcards the scene opens up onto a stone shopfront (just beside the restaurant "Angelus" where we dined on pizza and banana "spleets" a few weeks back). Below a painted enseigne* which reads "Feuilles des Vignes,"* rests a small iron table the color of réglisse* as it melts on the tongue. There, beside the melt-in-your-mouth table, two iron chairs, sweet as their heart-shaped "dos,"* are occupied.

The woman with the black waist-length ponytail is filling out a form that reads dépôt-vente.* The writer seated beside her is wondering whether she will return to collect the money (should her book sell). She has "deposited" books in librairies* before (in Aix, in Lorgues...) only to be seized, she the writer, by
an unfounded phobia of returning to the shop to collect either books or earnings. "This time is different," she tells herself. "Those books were issued from Four Frogs Press.* This book is from a maison d'édition New Yorkaise.*" The writer is not convinced that this last detail has cured her cowardice.

A woman rides up on an old-fashioned bike, wicker panier* hooked to the handlebar. "I don't have any tomatoes for you today, ma belle,*" she apologizes, bending down to kiss the shop owner. "Je vous fais la bise aussi,"* says the woman on wheels, planting three kisses on my cheeks (left, right, left). I feel
like I did back in tenth grade when, new at Chaparral High School, one of the "freaks" (as opposed to "jocks"), who wore a hip-hugging belt with menacing spikes, welcomed me into her tribe (she liked the zigzags ironed into my straight hair. Years later, my muse with the spiked belt--which matched her
rock-n-roll locks--ended up dancing on tables for cash and I, writing on them).

I look over to the bookstore owner, who is coquette in a flowing knee-length skirt, one as whimsical as its motif: great black polka dots on white. "Don't worry about it," she is saying. As the lady-sans-légumes* pedals off, the shop owner informs me that she'll pick up a few tomatoes from her father's
potager,* near the Aigues river. I mention that, coincidentally, my home is near a such a potager. Before long it is understood that the shop owner lives in the house across the field from me.

More customers file past us. A man and his son inquire about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" only to learn that the last three copies flew out of the store yesterday.

"I should go," I say, swirling the coffee (a café allongé,* I might finally add) in the plastic cup before me. I stand up to leave. Remembering my drop-n-run track record, I am not sure if I will ever see the bookstore owner again.

"Écoutez,"* she replies, solving an unspoken problem. "When these books have sold, I'll stop by your place on my way home and give you your cut."

That settles that. With one great stone kicked out of my path, I can go back to dreaming about books that fly (out of store windows), and to the writing of them. So far I haven't had to dance on tables and, in the meantime, I hope to keep this writing gig.

References: un billet (m) = column; Cécilien (Cécilienne) = of Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes; le français (m) = French; la carte (f) postale = post card; une enseigne (f) = shop sign; Feuilles des Vignes = Vine Leaves (or Vine Paper -- feuille also means "paper"); la réglisse (f) = liquorice; le dos (m) = back; le dépôt-vente (m) = consignment; la librairie (f) = bookshop; Four Frogs Press = a.k.a. Kristin, Jean-Marc, Max, & Jackie Espinasse; la maison (f) d'édition New Yorkais = New York publisher; le panier (m) = basket; ma belle = my pretty one; Je vous fais la bise aussi = I'll kiss you too; sans légumes = without vegetables; le potager (m) = vegetable garden; un café (m) allongé = a "long" (watered down) coffee; écoutez (écouter) = listen

                                                  :: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word & quote:
Abréger son souper, c'est allonger sa vie.
MP3 file: Download allonger_mp3.mp3
Wave file: Download allonger_wav.wav

Terms & Expressions:
  allonger le pas = to quicken one's pace
  allonger quelqu'un = to knock somebody flat

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