etre rouge comme une tomate


 I would like to be more welcoming to strangers. And you?

inhospitalier (in os pih tal yay) adjective

    : inhospitable

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The French have a synonym for ingracious. They call it "uninhabitable" ("inhabitable") and I guess that sums up the way I seem to be: resistant to anyone taking up residence inside of me... which may explain the pains I take in putting up so many boundaries. But God gave me a hospitable "habitable" husband and a semi-public farm in which to daily test (or, rather, stretch) me. Only, progress is slow and I wonder when will I be able to offer an unexpected visitor a warm hello?


Seated at the picnic table under our shady Mulberry tree, I was eating lunch with Lou and the harvest crew when I noticed a car inching up our driveway.

The Unexpected Visitor! Who could it be? What do they need? And why haven't they warned before they've come calling? 

A warning... It is now with ice pick eyes that I glare at my husband. There must have been advanced notice! Surely there was a warning! He just forgot to share it with me! Calm down. Never mind. The lesson is the same. 

I felt a familiar inward growl growing from deep within: the piping up of my inner territorial troglodyte. Oh, cave dweller, it is so hard to learn lessons!

I hear the car door slam shut and gravel crunching beneath the unfamiliar one's feet.
"Who could it be?" my mind murmured on. There it was again, that grievous gargouillement... It wasn't my empty stomach smarting: it was the howling of an inhospitable house mouse, the one who'd rather run and hide, slipping through a crack in the wall and over to the quiet, predictable other side. 

There, inside my little comfort cave I stare at a poster on my wall. It reads:

Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.*

Dutifully, I recite the sage words over and again.

Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.
Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.
Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.

It's no use. It is only in the doing and not in the "drilling in" that one begins to overcome.

The little house mouse inside of me turns and faces the entry. She stares stubbornly. Outside the crack in the wall there is light. It sends reassuring rays into her space. She can feel it on her timid toes. It is pulling her outward. To where? Heaven knows. 


French Vocabulary & Notes

le gargouillement
= gurgling, grumbling

*"Be not inhospitable to strangers" is a message found on the walls of the famous bookstore in Paris Shakespeare & Co. It comes from Hebrews 13:2:
Ne négligez pas de pratiquer l'hospitalité. Car plusieurs, en l'exerçant, ont accueilli des anges sans le savoir.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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