mener à la baguette (meuh-nay ah-lah baa-get) expression
: to boss around, to rule with a rod of iron (or with an iron hand or fist).
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Mener à la baguette. C'est sa femme qui le mène à la baguette.
To order around. It's his wife that bosses him around.
A Day in a French Life...
Lately, I am having fun playing editor... and it only recently occurred to me that I might exercise some of this new-found authority -- and order some of these writers around! So when French Word-A-Day subscriber Gary recently proposed a story on Pétanque,* I could just feel my power-craving pea brain bubble with ideas on how to boss this latest pigiste* around.
"500 words max," I snapped, in my best imitation of Publishing Giantess.
"And send me a two-line bio!" I barked, with an "Ah, freelancers these days!" shrug and a "You really gotta spell things out!" shake of the head.
On receiving Gary's article, I might have made suffer the customary 3 - 6 months' response wait that I once had to endure ... back when I spent my days desperately sending out query letters to every magazine from "Jewish Woman" to "Home and Garden" to "Car and Driver" (never mind my Evangelical roots, never mind that I have no green thumb, lead foot, or ink brain -- or so it seemed... by the lack of response that I was getting).
And I might've sent back a standard, pre-written rejection notice to Gary: "Dear Writer, Thank you for your query. At this time we are unable to... "
...only, it occurred to me, I wouldn't then have the chance to "le mener à la baguette" or boss him around a bit!
As for being authoritarian, I might have held my newest freelancer to some sort of starched editorial calendar. "Pétanque! It is an essay on Pétanque that you are proposing?" Did you not follow publishing guidelines? Did you not read the last 6 years or 751 archived editions just to get a feel for this French word journal (or "Diary of a Ditzy, Displaced near the Drôme Desert Rat")?!" I might've illustrated my point, with some sort of dramatic editor meltdown in which I stub out my cigarette, stand up, yank off my editor's visor and throw it to the ground before pointing out the Exit sign over the door. Out! Get outta here! And take your Pétanque proposal with you!
Only, these days, it's not as if I had some sort of editorial calendar keeping me on track... à vrai dire,* I hardly know just what the theme will be... on the morning of publication. This current essay is oh so very case in point. I had set out to post Gary's article, and, instead, took a trip down Nostalgia lane. Re all those query letters and attempts at journal publication, I never did get that newspaper column that I had hoped for, never did become a regular contributor at (Name That Glossy Magazine). Instead, I set up shop here, in Cyberspace.
As I sit here, today, trying on my new editorial hat, thinking up more orders to shout at Gary, I fancy myself in charge of the glossy New Yorker or the "papery" Le Monde. But life has a way of leveling the newly-puffed ego, and I eventually got around to reading that bio that I asked Gary for...
That's when I learned that my imagined intern, my freshwater freelancer... is, in fact, author of a classic textbook on statistics. Yowch! (And, to think, I had debated sending Gary a "sample bio" just in case he didn't understand what a two-line biography was. (Kicking myself, kicking myself, kicking myself...)
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated in the comments box.
Check back Friday for Gary's article on Pétanque... You'll meet partner-in-crime, Tim, and a few other characters, too! Meantime, won't you order some of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu Rosé (a favorite of Gary's and Tim's) to drink while enjoying a game of Pétanque? My husband (resident winemaker, whoop your behind boulist) always has a glass of "rosado" (Provençal for rosé? It's your guess!) when he plays.
Union Square Wines and Spirits, 140 Fourth Avenue, New York, NY. Tel : (212) 675-8100
For other locations, check here.
Post note: In a funny twist of faith (et c'est le cas de le dire!*) a Jewish/Christian journal did eventually pay for one of my spiritual (or rather "spirited") vignettes. I was so excited at selling one of my first pieces of writing... that I overlooked the fact that the author's name, listed at the top of the article, was not my own (Zut! I had yet to see my name in print...). You can read the article, which became a chapter ("Attendre," To Wait For) in my book.
la pétanque = a game of bowls (boules) played in the South of France... and elsewhere!; le/la pigiste (m,f) = journalist; à vrai dire = to tell you the truth; et c'est le cas de le dire = and one could surely say that!; zut! = darn!
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