To Spill Your Guts in French

The original Rouge-Bleu (a.k.a. "Susan") in Orange, France.

boyaux (bwa-yo) masculine noun (plural)
   guts, entrails

La voix de la conscience et de l'honneur est bien faible quand les boyaux crient. The voice of conscience and honor are really feeble when one's guts are crying out. --Denis Diderot

When one's heart is stuffed with dusty parcels, packages that should have been untied and emptied long ago, then it's time to unpack. The French have a term for this: "déballer son coeur" (to pour out one's heart). More than the poetic French expression, I prefer a nitty-gritty idiom from my American
childhood: to spill one's guts.

While gut-spilling is cathartic, I promised to zip my lip when my best friend* came to visit last week. I vowed not to vent, promised not to prattle on about how life has gone from ho-hum tranquil to high tribulation since Jean-Marc, the kids and I left our quiet home in Les Arcs and moved to a shrilly shon-tee-ay.*

While the hectic harvest is past us, the construction work--with its shrills, spills and ills (the drilling, dust, and unsealed windows which let in the cold autumn air) has resumed. Come November we'll attack month eight of the renovation. While the electricity comes and goes, as does the water, returning sometimes cold, we continue to work and shower and try to go with the flow.

                                        *     *     *
At the Marignane airport I wait at the arrival gate, searching for familiar auburn locks. I spot my friend, Susan, whose hair is the color of a freshly minted centime.

"Nice bangs!" I say, admiring the rich copper highlights that are naturally hers. "Don't you have even one gray strand on your head?"
"Oh, they're there!" Susan insists, reaching over for a hug. "How are you, Rouge-Bleu?"*
"My lips are zipped!" I chuckle, remembering my good intentions: to spend five and a half upbeat days with one of my favorite people.

                                    *     *     *

"Did you know that when mama elephants lose a baby they mourn their loss?" Susan questions me as we enter the highway, exiting the airport. "They even shed tears. And if you listen carefully, you can hear them crying."

I think about big elephant tears, heavy as my dusty parcels of frustration. When next Susan tells me that a mother elephant is never left alone, but that the other female elephants gather around her like great gray shock absorbers... well then it doesn't take long for my lip to unzip and for so many dusty parcels to come crashing down as I mourn the loss of privacy, personal space and predictable plumbing. While such lost privileges are peanuts in comparison to the elephant's tristesse,* another mama's support is soothing all the same.

References: best friend = (see Susan's bio here); shon-tee-ay = pronunciation for "chantier" (construction site); Rouge-Bleu = nickname for my friend (also the name of our vineyard); la tristesse (f) = sadness

:: Audio File ::
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's word and quote:
Boyaux. La voix de la conscience et de l'honneur est bien faible quand les boyaux crient.
  MP3 file: Download boyaux.mp3
  Wave file: Download boyaux.wav

More French language tools:
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