un comprimé

la prise de conscience

Père et Fille. Jean-Marc and Jackie (did you read her letter on maquillage?). Tomorrow, March 29th, is Chief Grape's 45th birthday!

la prise de conscience (preez-deuh-kon-see-uhns)

    : realization

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the French words below: Download MP3 or Wav file

Cette prise de conscience était un peu troublante. Il parait que ma peau a vignt ans de plus que moi. This realization was a bit troubling. Apparently my skin is twenty years older than I am.

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

She said I need to reapply sunblock every two hours, that when I drive I should put on a long-sleeved (linen) veste in summertime, and that I might consider having the windows in my home (where I work) coated with ultraviolet window film. But the kicker was, she said I have an old peau... She did say that, didn't she? 

Standing in the dermato's office, I watch the scrutinizing regard of the doctor, who does not avert her eyes when delivering the conviction: "Vous êtes plus jeune que votre peau!"

 Because she says the word "jeune" several times in the same paragraph, I initially take it as flattery. Since when was middle age "young"? ...But then the words begin to translate themselves, as French words do, slowly... surely—tick, tick, tick—until, like a grenade, they explode with meaning. 

She never said I was young... she said I was younger than my skin... which I guessed, was old!

   "44 year-old woman". Photo taken 4 weeks ago... those are stitches from the second basal cell surgery. My forehead is coming along, too...

No need to guess any further, the dermato is blunt: "You have prematurely old skin! Votre peau a vingt ans de plus que vous!

I am tempted to shush her up, tempted to claim and enforce that universal rule of tact, only, reason tells me that tact is sometimes nothing more than a tool for illusionists: it is magician's smoke! I don't want Houdini, I want Dr H, whose higher goal it is--in telling me the truth about my skin--to prevent further dégâts.

Dr H. says I will need to catch up to my skin's age! The good news is I have twenty years to do so.... Meantime, I will need to slow down the "advancement" of my cellules--and prevent further skin cancers associated with older skin--by slathering on the sunblock, closing the curtains in my bright office, and staying out of the sun. 

(It is a strange new goal, that of trying to catch up one's biological age to one's physical age! Weren't the two the same?)

The other good news was that the third mysterious growth (or the purpose of my doctor visit) turned out to be a harmless angiome--and not another invasive cell. OUF!).

I pay the doctor 42 euros, thank her for the "reassurance", and leave the office. When I get into my car I look into the rear-view mirror....

First, the crows feet leap out. Gosh, the lines around my eyes are deeper than I remembered their being... my skin looks tired, too.

I have the desire to google "44-year-old skin" or "44-year-old woman" just to see what I should look like. What, after all, should I look like? 

In the end, I resist the urge to let google toy with my emotions. I am strong, tough as leather, and you might even say I have the skin to prove it.

French Vocabulary

père et fille = father and daughter

joyeux anniversaire = happy birthday

la veste = jacket

le/la dermato (dermatologue) = dermatologist

Vous êtes plus jeune que votre peau = you are younger than your skin

Votre peau a vingt ans de plus que vous = your skin is twenty years older than you are

les dégâts (m) = damage

une cellule = cell

un angiome = angioma (a benign tumor made up of blood vessels). Our son Max was born with a dime-size bright red "angiome" on his forehead. The doctors referred to it as "une fraise" (a strawberry)

ouf! = phew! 


Alex Polner Jean-Marc Espinasse Joanne Polner N.J. at Vestry Wines NYC
Another snapshot from Chief Grape's USA wine tour. Here is Jean-Marc with Alex and Joanne Polner. Photo taken at Vestry Wines in NYC.

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