My 10-year-old style-conscious daughter. More in today's story... photo taken two years ago, when this edition was first published.
le secours (suh-koor) noun, masculine
: help, aid, assistance, relief
* * *
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même.
(He) will come to the aid of the suffering other, he who suffers himself.
--Faramarz (12th century Persian author)
In French music: "Avec le Temps" by Leo Ferre
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Living out here in the vine boondocks, where high traffic means encountering one lazy tractor on my morning school run, I care less and less about presentation. Having all but worn my bathrobe while chauffeuring the kids into town, I wonder sometimes about risk-taking and ridicule.
Heading out the door to pick up the kids from school, I hesitate before the shoe pile. Forget it! I am not changing out of my slippers this time. The car is right outside the door. I only need to hop from doormat to car mat, risking but a trail of dust in between. As for hopping, that might be hard given the size of these slippers, which gets me thinking...
What IF I have an accident on the way to school? My daughter would kill me for getting caught in cotton "clogs". I look down at the un-dainty slippers, each one the size of a boat and with enough insulation to temper arctic waters.
Silly thought, that of getting caught. The odds of that happening! I shake my head and grab the car keys before stepping into car, lifting one giant slipper after the other, and pulling out of the driveway.
At a country crossroad where one, two, three, four paths meet—two of which are dirt roads—I slow down. With the help of peripheral vision I sense an object speeding forward to my right. I am amazed to encounter another car!
Right, priorité à droite! I remind myself, giddy at the chance to give another driver the right-of-way. Only, given the hairpin turn awaiting the other driver, I have to put the car in reverse in order to make room.
As the car passes, and with a great beaming smile on my face, I am the picture of good manners as I offer to willingly retreat for the hurried French driver. Backing up, it is only when I feel myself sliding to the right, that I realize I've nearly ended up in a ditch!
Back to that unglamorous glitch. I look down to the floorboard, toward the foot pedals hidden behind those gigantic slippers. Time to act quickly before secours arrives! I push in the clutch, put it in first, and all but pole-vault the front end of my car into the ditch. Whereas the back end had only flirted with the fall, it is in forgetting to straighten out the wheel that I dig my own descent.
I quickly put the car into reverse and listen as the engine replies in rip-roarious ridicule. A cloud of dust appears beyond the back window. Each clumsy kick of the clutch sends my slipper-boats sinking into the floorboard until a chilly arctic awareness sets in. I am not going anywhere. I will have to get out of the car and walk to town with those ridiculous "rafts" on my feet.
I look up, as one does for mercy, and notice something in the rearview mirror: two strangers slowly appearing amidst the dust cloud. One man is smoking a pipe, the other has car keys in his hand. I recognize The Right-of-Way driver and co-pilot. I see them jump into the ditch, walk over to the dangling front tire and lift it up—along with the car!
"Avancez," they say, holding the car in the palms of their hands.
The situation is surreal and there, behind the wheel, I feel uplifted by the strangers' secours. I AM uplifted, as is my car! My eyes do a double-take and I see the pipe in one man's mouth, a smile on the other's. Sweat begins to appear on their collective brows.
"Vous voulez que j'avance?" I say, afraid to run them both back into the ditch.
"Oui, Madame," they answer, politely, painfully, sweat now pouring down.
Right. This is no time to second guess. I tried that with the slippers and who knows if that played a part in this mess? Grinding the gearshift into first, I literally peel out of those men's palms.
* * *
Looking back I saw the men waving, unharmed. I had thought it was I the Good Samaritan. Slippers tucked safely now beneath a spared ego, I think again.
:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
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Have a minute to read another story? Here's one I wrote four years ago... about coloring Easter eggs with the kids. Thanks for checking it out and sharing it with a friend. Click here to read "Tremper".
priorité à droite = priority (goes to the driver) to the right
avancez (avancer) = go forward, advance
le secours (m) = aid
Vous voulez que j'avance = Do you want me to advance?
French Words & Expressions:
Au secours! = Help!
appeler au secours = to call/cry for help
la caisse de secours = relief / charity fund
les fonds de secours = emergency fund
porter secours à quelqu'un = to give assistance to someone
sortie de secours = emergency exit
le secours moral, mutuel = moral / mutual support
les premiers secours = first aid
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety