Photo: Nothing to do with today's word... just a slice of country life as it looked here at the farm one week ago.
la honte! (lah ohnt)
= how embarrassing!
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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
"Why is it We Do The Very Thing We Set Out Not To Do?"
(In a parking lot, somewhere in a busy industrial zone...) My daughter and I are walking arm in arm, following the shade that our bodies make. We swerve to the left, to the right, let our heads fall together, and then to the side. The dark figure on the sidewalk contorts, following our every move and it is our delight to throw out another command or two. What a thrill it is to be in control, finally, to watch our image do what we tell it to!
Earlier, when we arrived at the shopping center for a beauty consultation, Jackie repeated her request:"S'il te plaît, Maman... Please, Mom, do not tell the saleswoman, 'My daughter does not need to wear le maquillage'!"
I quickly translated her plea: by informing the saleswoman that my daughter did not need makeup, I would be announcing: "She's too pretty for the stuff!" And such a remark would be "la honte" to my daughter.
Compte sur moi! I promised. Even though I feel my daughter does not need makeup, I knew it would be a surprise and a treat to offer her a cosmetics lesson. (After her essay on maquillage, we received many thoughtful responses and tips, one of which was the suggestion to have a makeup consultation.)
Fastoche! I thought. I'd worked in a department store and I'd witnessed the girls at the makeup counter offer customers free lessons. I figured that after Jackie's lesson, we would purchase the fond de teint that she had been asking for (to camouflage les boutons, she explained).
With this plan, I led my daughter into the makeup boutique. After I inquired about a makeup lesson, the woman behind the counter consulted her cahier.
"Voyons... la leçon de maquillage... çela coute 25 euros."
"Vingt-cinq euros? Does this include a gift with purchase?" (I was hoping it might cover the cost of the fond de teint that we were in the market for...)
The woman shook her carefully coiffed head, Non.
Wondering what to do, I translated the figure into US dollars: $36! What if we purchased something?...
The saleswoman confirmed: "With a purchase of three items, we can offer you the makeup lesson." With that Jackie and I hurried over to the makeup display case, but the first item my daughter saw (lip gloss) was 32 euros ($40)! With this "three item" scheme, the lesson would end up costing nearly $100!
I tried to negotiate with the saleswoman. "You see... she's only thirteen..." I pointed out, looking over at my daughter, who was showing the first signs of la honte.
There, I'd done it! I might as well have said "she doesn't need to wear makeup!"
Strangely, instead of taking the clue that I'd gone and done the very thing I'd promised not to--I chose this moment to give my daughter a lesson in consumer relations...
"Don't be embarrassed, Sweetie. It's normal to talk about the price for something!" I said to my daughter, looking over at the saleswoman for confirmation. Only, the saleswoman stared blankly back at me.
I ignored the whispering beside me, "Maman.... Maman!"
The saleswoman's reaction only fueled my determination for a winning outcome (couldn't, after all, this be a gagnant-gagnant, or win-win situation? As it was, the boutique had no other clients. Was it too much to ask for a makeup demonstration? The two saleswomen were standing around and it might also be the chance for them to practice the métier....)
I tried reasoning: "It's just that... instead of buying grocery-store makeup I had the idea that I would treat my daughter to..."
But any fanciful ideas were immediately cut short when my daughter began poking me, determinedly.
"Jackie!" I admonished the arm-poker. After a few more bumbling lines, the irony of it all occurred to me: this great effort at economy was, in the end, at my daughter's expense!
Like that, we sklunked out of the makeup boutique, one of us feeling like a has-been, the other feeling like Honte personified.
Half an hour later I study the thick shadow ahead of me, watching as it glides forward, at ease. We turn our heads right, then left... Arm in arm my daughter and I march forward, laughing now and again at the funny contorted figure on the pavement.
"I'm so sorry for embarrassing you!" I repeat to my daughter, who shakes the sack in her hand in response. "It's okay. This is just fine!" I had wanted to buy her a step-up from the grocery-store makeup....
With that we head to the car, swerving from side to side, our shadow following along, in real time. I shook my head at my "step up" makeup plan. All that really matters, in the end, is that we are in step with each other.
s'il te plaît, Maman = please, Mom
le maquillage = makeup
compte sur moi! = count on me!
fastoche! = nothin' to it!
le fond de teint = makeup base, foundation
les boutons (m) = pimples
la leçon de maquillage... çela coute 25 euros = the makeup leçon... that costs 25 euros
Maman! Maman! = Mom! Mom!
la honte = shame
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