fleurs de cimetière

Braise and Smokey French Halloween (c) Kristin Espinasse
Our Mot-Par-Jour models, Braise & Smokey.

les fleurs de cimetière (lay flur deuh sim tee ere)

    : age spots, "cemetery flowers"

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Le médecin m'a dit que j'ai les fleurs de cimetière sur ma peau!
The doctor said that I have "cemetery flowers" on my skin! 

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

I thanked the doctor for reassuring me that the small, flesh-toned bosse on my forehead—and the darker one on the back of my arm—were, after all, bénin. How many miserable moments had I spent pushing at or scraping or pinching the suspect "growths" which seemed to be spreading? I know better than to pick at la peau, but it was in those absentminded moments that I would reach up to my forehead and scratch at the knotty skin only to be startled to find it flaking off again! 

The médecin généraliste determined the bump on my forehead to be nothing more than an old scar, une cicatrice that I had simply forgotten about. As for the little lump on the back of my arm, the one for which I twisted the latter endlessly so as to get another look, it was nothing to worry about either. 

Afraid that the doctor might take me for a hypochondriaque, I laughed it off: "I'll bet you get a lot of false alarms like this...."

The doc replied with a sympathetic smile, which grew bigger as her eyes locked onto my hands, which were busy writing out a check.

"And speaking of spots..." the doctor said, "we call those 'les fleurs de cimetière'." I followed her glance to the backs of my hands where a sprinkling of  spots now came into focus. I hadn't noticed them so much before....

"Oh," I stammered. "I thought they were freckles!"


As I exited the doctor's office the score was "-2 plus 1":  I had two fewer things to worry about and one more "something" to agonize over: le vieillissement de la peau. Oh, well, leave it to the French to add a bit of floral flair to "age spots". And besides, "les fleurs de cimetière!" is a little better than the alternative: "senile spots" or "les taches séniles!"

 P.S. Next month I turn 43... so these are still freckles, n'est-ce pas

Post note: It turns out that "growth" wasn't harmless afterall -- it was basal cell carcinoma


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French Vocabulary

le mot par jour = word a day

la bosse = bump, lump

bénin = harmless, benign

la peau = skin

le médecin généraliste = general, or family, doctor

la cicatrice = scar

le/la hypochondriaque = hypochondriac

les fleurs de cimetière = "cemetery flowers" (age spots)

le vieillissement de la peau = the aging of the skin

une tache (lentigo) sénile = "a senile freckle", or age spot

n'est-ce pas = isn't that so?

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