"The Boy I was. The Man I'm Becoming". Our 16-year-old, Max.

le pantalon (pahn tah lown)

    : (pair of) pants, trousers

le pantalon de costume = dress pants
le pantalon à pinces = pleated pants
le pantalon battle = cargo pants
le pantalon cigarette = straight-leg pants
le pantalon 5 poches = 5 pocket 

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

"Plants in My Pants"

It is especially quiet in my office when a sudden bruit has me practically leaping out of my chair. What was that?! My mind quickly replays the sound... a ripping? ...a scratching (like the opening of a velcro wallet)? Then again, I wonder if what I've heard... is the sound of seams splitting.

I study the pants that I am wearing: hand-me-downs from my son. I'd bought Max the handsome pin-stripped pantalons to wear to a family wedding last year. They were a little pricey, or chérot... so I had my doubts about buying them for a growing boy (one who'd just turned 15). Only, standing there, outside the dressing room, admiring the young man in the mirror in front of us, I was spellbound. How dashing he looked in the dress pants and the tailored, wide-cuffed chemise!

Max didn't seem to recognize himself... only after a little strutting back and forth did his movements match up with those of the confident stranger in the mirror. "Mom, please," Max pleaded. "I've got to have these!"

"Alright," I answered, adding one stipulation, "Just don't grow out of them too quickly! Promise?"

(Max a juré....)


Sometime last week, Max broke his oath--having grown several sneaky centimeters in the last three seasons! I knew I had to put the pants into the giveaway pile.... a reality that gnawed at me (he'd only wore the pants once! You could still see the stringy fibers from the price tag!).

A light went off in my head: maybe I could be the lucky pants-recipient? I pulled off my gypsy skirt and stepped into the pantalons....

The pants fit! Next I knew I was mimicking my son, strutting back-n-forth before le miroir. Could I? Could I wear them?! I wondered. There appeared to be only one problem: that little "flooding" action around my ankles. Though I tried to deny it--pulling the pants down low on my hips--the pant legs were un cran too short....

And then I had another revelation! Reaching down I rolled up the pant legs. Voilà! I could wear the pantalons as capris!...

...and I have done just that, for days now, as one wears a uniform. Everything was going smoothly until, one evening, while working at my computer I heard that troubling sound... Yes, the sound of seams... seams splitting!

I leaped out of my chair and searched my pants for any accidental openings.... When no rips or splits were to be found. I breathed a sigh of relief, a little prematurely....

Just then, it happened again: ccccccrrrrriiiikkkkkk!

Instantly my hands flew back, to the seat of my pants. I felt along the vertical seam. My neck strained as I tried to see over my shoulders... The stitches seemed to be intact. But no sooner had I reassured myself than CRRRRIIIIICKKKK!

This time my hands landed on my front pockets, where the smooth surface was found to be bumpy. Now what?!...

My hands plunged, automatically into my pockets and that is when I discovered the source of all my souci: SEEDS!

I remembered back to the walk I'd taken earlier that evening, through the vineyard and out to the wild garrigue. My friend Toni had helped me collect seeds from the dried branches of the broom bushes, their licorice-scented yellow flowers now shriveled and feeding the earth beneath us. I'd stored the dried, closed pods in my front pocket for safekeeping....

...And now, hours later, those seed pods were springing open! Pop! pop! pop! P-p-p-p-p-POP!

I looked into the palms of my hands at the open shells and the liberated seeds--and shook my head, appreciatively. I had to give them credit--they sure fooled me with their humbling cacophony! Meantime, I'd get to keep the pants! The seeds could continue splitting and, with a little water, grow up into bigger things, just as my dashing son is doing.


 Le Coin Commentaires

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Related stories

That gypsy skirt makes another appearance in this story.

And the fun word saperlipopette is featured in this missive.

Discover the joy of seed collecting, in this tribute to the Dirt Divas.

View a picture of that Scottish broom (the seeds of which I collected in today's story).


French Vocabulary - (under construction)

le pantalon = pants

chérot = pricey

la chemise = shirt

Max à juré = Max promised

saperlipopette = oh my goodness!

le miroir = mirror

un cran = a peg a notch

le souci = worry

la garrigue = wild Mediterranean scrubland 

Seed eaters in the town of Orange.

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Max at 5 years old and at 16. Mom found the hat in an antiques store. GDF stands for Gaz de France. I wonder whether the hat was worn by a post war government worker. More on GDF from Wikipedia: Gaz de France was created with its sister company Électricité de France (EDF) in 1946 by the French Government. After the liberalisation of Europe’s energy markets, Gaz de France also entered into the electricity sector, having developed combined natural gas-electricity offerings.

Featured Story from the archives:

"Le Mot Juste": a story about a mysterious man I met in Croatia. Click here to read it.

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Shelley Longmire

Wonderful story! Beautifully written!


Such a lovely had me vraiment ravi!

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Great fun with this story! You had me as curious as you were. There's always so much energy in your telling of a tale. What a distinctive writer's voice.

(on a side note, Kristin, did you get my question about the Beaune photo?)


Love this story Kristy! You are so talented!

Maudit Pute

Why is your son not wearing a shirt? I find it kind of strange.

Linda R.

Fun to start out the day with a smile/laugh. Sweet.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Very funny and your story comes full circle. Max is not only growing, he is growing into a very handsome young man.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much for the positive feedback! I woke up this morning with the plan to write a completely different story... but you know the saying "Man plans, God laughs"!

Julie, thanks for your note. I'll check my inbox and respond soon.

Maudit, The shirtless photo was taken first, when Max happened by in his swim trunks, stopping to pick up the frame with the photo of him as a young boy. I was struck by the image and asked Max to "hold on!" in time for me to get my camera. After taking the photo, I knew I'd want to write a story about it (the young man looking back at the boy he once was). Only, maybe he needed a shirt if I was to publish the photo? So I asked Max to put on a shirt. Only, in the "shirt" photo, you don't see the picture of his 5-year-old self very well -- but you do in the shirtless photo. I decided to go ahead and post both photos - and not to worry about it.

Eileen deCamp

Great story Kristin! Boy do they grow up fast! I bet you have to beat the girls away! haha


Bien! It's good to know that I am not the only one that stuffs seeds in a pocket! Great story! Merci!

Tom from Detroit

What a great mystery to digest with my morning breakfast! I'm a sucker for alliteration so I was "stupéfait" with your sentence, "...I discovered the source of all my souci: SEEDS!" Simply super, Kristen!!


Wonderful story! It reminds me of the sad/sweet memories of my sons at 16 years.

louis plauche'

That's a very nice piece of writing, Kristin. It helped me to see for the first time the common ground shared by seeds and adolescent children...both are full of surprises, both are bursting with as yet unfulfilled potential...and both can add disquiet as well as spice to an otherwise uneventful day. Thanks...



I love broom (le genêt), but sorry the seeds exploded in your pocket, although that led to a great story! At one of the tastings this summer, Max went around and introduced himself to all of us. What a great young man.

Frank Levin

The popping of Scottish Broom pods on a hot day means summer is completely happening. But, here in Oregon this beautiful, yellow shrub is considered an invasive species. It was introduced as an ornamental years ago and now has spread itself, by the explosive popping of the pods, all over the Northwest to the detriment of "native" plants. We are asked to rip it out wherever found. This tenacious plant resists this ripping mightily. It is hard to regard this beautiful plant as a marauder, but here we are told to do so.
The GDF hat looks great on Max.


Max is becoming a very handsome young man, and what a sweet picture of him looking at the boy he was.


Bonjour Kristin,

saperlipopette! = my goodness!

Plus d'info ici. (

A+ -





Lynn at Southern Fried French

this story is TOO cute, and that Max, oh la la, he's turned into a teen-age dream! Les filles vont arriver!


Great Story Kristin! Hope all is good in la belle France. Yesterday I was re-reading this great post from 2 years ago: and I am making those wands again, they are such a nice reminder of our shorts summers here when we open our wardrobe in the winter. Take care. A


Wonderful story, as always, Kristin.

Would love to have seen a photo of you in the pants!

Judy Feldman

Wonderful story Kristin! And, Max is sooo handsome. Can't wait to meet him (and see his/your pants)! Thanks for the new word, saperlipopette - I shall try to use it -- somehow!


Great story. So glad you got to keep the pants. The seeds probably started popping open from the heat of your body. Now, about the Scotch Broom...I think that is the same as "genista" and around here we consider it a bad plant because it propogates too well and takes over large the pampas grass. But nurseries still sell it. I would think you would have the same problem as our soils are somewhat similar.
Max is growing up, and just wait until you see your youngest grown up more than she is now.


coucou Kristin: Qu'il est beau, ton fils Max! Bientôt, il va briser beaucoup de cœurs des filles.
Your story today is so funny, and well written too. Bravo!
I am not as good as Newforest and some others, here's my take at the translation...
le pantacourt = capri pants
la chemise = the shirt
Max a juré = Max swore
saperlipopette = interjection to show surprise, so maybe "oh my goodness"?
le miroir = the mirror
un cran = a notch
le souci = concern
Please welcome to correct me too :)


Haste makes waste, please feel welcome to correct me! :)

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Millie. The vocab you provided is so helpful. Ill update the section soon. I had put peg -- but notch is just the word needed for un cran. I think Ill switch capri for your translation--putting the French word in the story

Newforest, we are thinking of you :-)

Rosa's Picks

Loved this story! And the sprinkling of French words was like listening to my mother speak (but with Italian, Spanish, and French thrown into her English!)
Ps. Your son really is 'dashing!'

Marianne Rankin

"Un cran" could also be "a shade" or "a tad."

I half expected the ripping sound to be Max outgrowing yet another clothing item.

My son, now 20, has - I think - finished growing. But I did buy him footwear in a bigger size a couple of days ago.

The photo of Max young and Max older is great. I hope to meet him and the whole famille Espinasse someday.

Suzanne de Cornelia

Charming story! I loved it when my son was a teenager...such a delight...and handsome--like Max!!


Your Max is SO handsome looking just like his Papa!

Maureen Winterhager

He looks just like you, Kristin, beautiful out, girls!!
All the English equivalents are far too tame for "saperlipopette". They don't have that zesty, cheeky sound.
In German it's "sapperlot", identical really....
In Australian English we might say "crikey!" Perhaps a bit old-fashioned today, but "saperlipopette" is also a tad anachronistic, hein?

BAFA Studio

Hahahahaha - Jules, I was going to say the same thing. Chef Grape and Kristin's children just keep getting better and better looking as they get older. Great genes from their Grandma!

Rhonda in Durham NC

I hiked the Gorges du Tarn trail in the canicule (heatwave)of 2003. My 17-year-old son accompanied me as we sweated our way across le Massif central. The audio version of that walk would sound like popcorn popping, but it was the broom shooting seed across our path.

Diane Dainis

Love that story Kristin, and Max is growing way too fast. You have a very handsome son on your hands. But what I want to see is a picture of you in the pantalons. We'll all be waiting for that post soon.
Mansfield MA


Scotch broom is on the noxious weed, non-native plant list here in the Seattle area. It is taking over in Port townsend where I live, invading every empty spot it can find, crowding out and killing beautiful native plants, giving them no place to live and no breathing room. It shouldn't be encouraged.

Jennifer in OR

I loved the subtitle "plants in my pants" -- and the rest of the story. Also want to see you in those pants! So neat to see the almost matching hats in the young/grown versions of Max; you captured a leap in time so wonderfully!


....Kristin, there's always one maudite - your lovely boy without a shirt is a lovely boy without a shirt, so what? Boys often go shirtless - the world over - in summer!!

Glenda LaCroix

Bonjour Kristen, I am pleased that I have visited your page, Monsieur Patocchi recommended it and I find it helpful.Merci,

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