Flâner: Francophiles love this word (and so do the French)
High heels & the Paris Metro = une mauvais idee?

Spit, wrinkles and my braless hairdresser


Next post goes out Thursday. "See you" then (or see you in Paris, on Tuesday afternoon!)

la bave (bav)

    : drool, slobber, spit; slime

Sound File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

La bave du crapaud n'atteint pas la blanche colombe.
The spit of the toad doesn't reach the white dove.
(Sticks and stones may break my bones.)

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

I feel guilty switching hairdressers. The other lady was nice, and so calm you could hear a bobby pin drop in her salon tout vide. Last time I was there, I saw the second customer ever--the hairdresser's mom--who swept the floor as her hair dye dried the color of blood (no icky or spooky connotations intended: French women really seem to love this Ronald McDonald shade of red!).

No matter the somber atmosphere, I might have been a customer for life, turning a blind eye, each time, on the orange tracks my hairdresser left across my head. Parting my hair another way, I could hide the mistakes, but facts were facts: this woman had a bad aim and was color-blind!

My new hairdresser (recommended by a reader) is the bomb! In a red fishnet top and cheek-defining jeans, she keeps her salon interesting. As she paints my hair blonder she hums alongside the blaring radio and if she doesn't like the song she hums another one

Yesterday's appointment was as amusing as any. Eva surprised me with a kiss on each cheek (on only my second visit) and an unusual amount of blinking....

"C'est la bave du grenouille. Frog spit," she explained. "A woman came by earlier and did a demonstration. It only took a couple of drops and voilà--nature's answer to botox!"

Just beyond Eva, another blinking woman greeted me. "I think it's working," Alex said. "Yes, my face feels tight! How does it look?"

The women studied each other, eyes a blinking. Oui, ça marche! they laughed, amused by the instant effect. 

I settled into a salon chair and scrutinized my own face in the mirror. Beside my mouth I recognized a deep verticle line that comes from sleeping on my left side (it's just a pillow imprint, it'll go away. That's what I've been telling myself all along). Could frog spit erase that?

No! I wouldn't exploit a frog, ever! And even so, not for 159.99 a bottle! Besides, there were plenty of frogs in my back yard. Armed with a cotton swab, I needed only to chase them via leaps and bounds!

As my imagination subsided, I looked up to find the salon crowd scrutinizing their own faces in the mirror. A collective frown begged encouragment. 

"Ah, but we have had our day!" Eva chirped. "It's the new generation's time to shine!" With that, she sent an affectionate clin d'oeil to the youngest customer: her 19-year-old niece, who had just begun modeling.

I sat admiring the lovely and si timide client, who reminded me of my cousin Audrey. Eva was right, and no amount of plastic or spit could aide in the jealous place-guarding. Time to give up our seats to a new crop of darlings! 

But looking back into the mirror, my critical regard moved from my mouth to my eyes, where more wrinkles formed on either side. Raising my eyebrows the lines disappeared, only now my attention caught on my forehead, where a scar branded it like a side of beef!

"That was skin cancer." I said, pointing out la cicatrice.

Eva's eyes narrowed for a closer look and her voice grew soft. "Mince!" (Oh no!)

The fair-skinned redhead in the chair behind mine chimed in with more sympathy. "We all got too much sun in the 70s! Now I wear sunscreen everywhere!"

Suddenly the salon was achatter as each woman questionned her suspicious spots. But when my hairdresser's shirt flew up, I was at a loss for words!

Braless was the first thing that came to mind, followed by Man. I wish mine looked like that!

Obviously, I could not share the compliment with Eva, who, five years older than me--and over 50--looked amazing, naturally. And yet all those years of topless sunbathing had not gone without incident: I saw the familiar skin-colored nodule.

It might have been nothing, but just in case I urged Eva to see her dermatologist. She promised she would and returned to her fun-loving self in time to finish my balayage. As she worked, I couldn't help but think that while the sun may harm skin cells, it sure hadn't damaged this one's elasticity. Eva was looking good!

Driving home from the salon, I regretted not sharing the compliment with my hairdresser. Obsessive thinker I am, I spent the remaining journey coming up with witty delivery lines for how to tell Eva that she was the bomb, now and forever?!  

Then it occured to me. I could have picked up the vial of frog spit and waved it, offering "You sure don't need any of this stuff, not THERE anyway!"

Yes, I could've said that, however simply, however absurdly. Or I can just hang low and chase frogs in my backyard--much less awkward, n'est-ce pas


To read my skin cancer story, click here.

Selected Vocabulary
tout vide = entirely empty
ça marche = it works!
un clin d'oeil = wink
la cicatrice = scar
mince! = oh, no!
le balayage = highlighting
n'est-ce pas = isn't it?


Lemon tree
Woman may do funny things as they age, like consider frog spit serum, but men wear funny things. Here's my husband's get up: unlaced steel-toe boots, pajama pants, a Harley Davidson jacket, a puffy-fronted baseball cap. But who am I to pick at him, when he's helping build this garden! Welcome, New Lemon Tree. We love you!

A row of leafy fava beans cheerily welcomes the new lemon tree. "Bienvenue!"

Anything that can't be eaten will soon leave this bed (bye-bye euphorbia. You are pretty, but carrots are pretty and delicious!)

See you in a week, with more photos and stories. Thank you so much for reading. Speaking of reading, I recently saw this book at Amazon. Looks like a good one! It's available on Kindle, click here.

"Finally a great book on what the Parisians are like and why"

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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I haven´t even read your post yet - but I did just see the lemon tree. You have taken my breath away with this photo!!!!




Can I buy Domain Rouge Bleu vins in Atlanta GA??

Bill in St. Paul

Your garden is looking wonderful! Does the frog spit work on men??

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I need LOTS of frog spit. Love the lemon tree and Jean-Marc's get up.

Kristin Espinasse

Eileen, ouf! good to see your comment. I was beginning to regret writing this post. Too much frog spit and nudity? And written by such a prude! P.S. you do not need frog spit at all!

Betsy Shequine

Garden is shaping up! Oh, for a lemon tree in the Hudson Valley!! Fat chance. hmmmm: how would you say that in French? Kristin, help!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Frog spit...Botox ... We are all so vain! I wish that I had done more with my wrinkles when younger,but now it is too late,although I will look in the mirror and give my face a face lift and viola so much younger. Can't afford the face lift or the Botox, although I do often think about it .


Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Every woman needs a hairdresser like Eva. And some of us could use a little frog spit as well. But that lemon tree will give you joy that lasts much longer ... Mother nature at her best!

Kristin Espinasse

Betsy, how about, for fat chance, *Quand les poules auraient les dents* ? (When pigs have teeth?) Here is wishing you will get your lemon tree!

Kristin Espinasse

Cynthia, LOL. Just saw your comment (I check these from my inbox). Thank you so much for introducing me to Eva! I owe you both a BIG lemonade when you get here!

Kristin Espinasse

I have had the chance to meet at least 5 of the commenters in this inbox -- and none of you need frog spit! Kathleen, do not even think of it :-)


Great post! Entertaining AND informative. Thanks!


That lemon tree is gorgeous!!! Sounds like an exciting day at the new hair salong! :)

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I love the lemon tree........so lucky. I have one but he has to go inside a lot due to the weather on the Oregon coast :(

What fun to have a hairlady like Eva. What an adventure.....

Finished your book --- loved it! Did Amazon review & posted on Facebook! Thanks - it was great!

Stay well.

Jackie Satterlee

I love your story.... and just like you, I spend hours after thinking of what I should have said and how I could make it right! Thanks for sharing...now I practice not to obsess :-)


Kristin, you always have been, and always will be, movie-star-beautiful. With or without wrinkles, it's just in you.

And as usual, this post shows your inner spiritual beauty too. You're always "obsessively" thinking about your neighbor and how to make THEM feel more comfortable.

Could there be a connection between inner and outer beauty? If so, you're the proof.

Kristin Espinasse

Teresa, thank you so much!

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Late in the day as usual. You may not even read this but I loved your story - we women can all appreciate wanting to look our best but I have come to the feeling that if I had no wrinkles then I would not have lived. but I did just cut a few bangs - just wisps - to help cover some of them up. Vanity! I would rather be old than dead. Have a great weekend.

Mara in Wisconsin

Um, isn't that "when hens have teeth"?

It's great that you pointed out the skin cancer scar and used it to encourage other women to get checked. You may have saved a life!

Cynthia Lewis

Loved today's post....felt like I was sitting in one of the chairs waiting for my turn with Eva. I have known for years that I have missed out on one of life's pleasures by not having my hair trimmed at a beauty shop on a regular basis. I just snip a bit here and there on my wavy hair and hope for the best.....making more time for gardening and so forth. Bon week-end to all and best wishes for a perfect trip to Paris!


Love the lemon tree! I wonder how one would
Do in Virginia??? With our crazy weather, I'm not
sure so great! I feel your pain with wrinkles.
I have one across my forehead from sleeping
As well. It takes awhile to calm down to minor
lines after I wake. I tried bangs in the last year,
but the natural wave of my hair really doesn't
Like them. I'm back home from Florida tonight.
Waiting for me in the mailbox was your book.
I can't wait to start reading!!!!

Take care, and don't worry about any wrinkles;
You look great!!!!


Ps. Sorry about how post looks. I did it on cell.
Next time I will use the computer.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,
With all this talk of wrinkles, I am reminded of my mom, who had a leathery, weathered and wrinkled face after so many years (smoking and...) working with horses in the sun. For her the wrinkles were almost a rite of passage!
Her favorite t-shirt carried her spirit. It said , "I'd rather be over the hill than under it". Cheers, Mom...
Enjoy your Paris trip and good luck with your presentation. I can only imagine that you will easily win over your audience!

Mary liz

You look wonderful and that scar is virtually invisible. You would never notice it. Have fun in Paris
Mary Higgins


Haha...first it was mother's spit that solved everything and now it is frogs spit... wonderful thing this spit!!

PS. don't worry ..my hubby went off to work the other day with his jeans, pink and maroon checked shirt, his favourite-years-old-never to-be-thrown-out steel capped builder's boots and to top it all off.. a Nepalese multi-coloured hat! Just because he could! You gotta love 'em!! :-)

Jo Statham

Lovely story as usual, Kristin. Although I'm puzzling how they get so much frog spit in a humane way. I'm hoping it might be aloe vera under another name, as many of these serums are, apparently.

And how did you manage a problem free change of hairdresser? Any malevolent stares from the original one if you meet at the baker's?

By the way, please make sure you have safety caps on those decorative curly metal plant sticks. A good friend had to go to hospital with a nasy eye injury after an encounter with one while clearing a bed.

Arliss P

So wonderful, as always, Kristin! It was a delight to be there with you at the salon, and you delicately wrapped up the piece so beautifully. That's what your vignettes are like: wonderful gifts, treasures, to those who read them, never knowing quite what they'll find but knowing it will be something special and to be savored and treasured.

And congratulations on the new lemon tree! Kudos to your pajama-pants-clad "assistant." HE is the bomb! The lemon tree, the rock walls, all those edibles that are so lovely to boot ... I have garden envy!

Dana Risley

This is the first time I've actually laughed out loud over one of your stories. (Yes, I've smiled, but never really cracked up - hurler!)
I have a very gay and very 'out' hairdresser who regales me with stories of his love life. I think our hairdressers would get along very well!

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Hi Kristi,

This story had me from the title. You have the gift for creating smiles and being relatable. No need for frog spit or worry over preserving your beauty; the gift of aging gracefully is in your spirit, your bones and your blood. I love the new addition to your beautiful garden.

Wishing you a wondrous time in Paris, I will be with you in spirit. How I wish I’d be joining you in person! xoxo


Hi Honey,

Just waiting for my dinner - resting on the terrace watching the pelicans fly by - wish you were here.

Found a beautiful present for you this morning when Myrna and I visited the Saturday market in old town Puerto Vallarta.

Can´t wait until you call me on Monday.

I want an appointment with your hairdresser…what is her name?



Kristin Espinasse

Gretel, mothers spit! So glad you mentioned it--so we all use it, then, in a pinch :-) great for shining shoes, removing caked on dust, and styling hair. Shhhh! Loved your husbands getup, too!

Jo, i needed that warning. My sister-in-law got an awful poke (from a vine)during one of the harvests. Those steel sticks are easy to miss!

Cynthia, I admire you for cutting your own hair. I am a slave to blond highlights and wish I could just use henna and do it myself. Even better, Id love to go au naturel-- but members of my own family have encouraged me to lighten up :-)

Kristin Espinasse

Mom, enjoyed your note from Pelican Post! And Mom, Evawould just LOVE you! When is the last time you went to the hairdressers?... I remember the dayone of themcut off your hair....

Diane Young

Magnifique! Votre livre est tres bon. The pix are a wonderful addition to your writing talent. Love the lemon tree and all the pictures you post in your FWAD of your flowers and vegetables. Think Paradise will be filled with such delights?

Solange Gautier

Ah, Cynthia, you warm my heart with your French attitude about the Body: a stunning creation designed by Nature herself! And so many variations on the theme!

I got such a kick out of your hair salon experience and only wish that those attitudes could be imported to California. Without using the popular American word 'b--b' --so crude compared with the beauty & rich variety it stands for.

Merci, merci, merci!!! I absolutely LOVE your blogs. You are a breath of badly-needed, much appreciated FRESH FRENCH AIR in the mind and heart!


Robbie  Lane Jackson

Nancy: I love that, I'd rather be dead than old. I buy creams and rarely use them. Just not impt in the scheme of things. I found cheap creams, like Vit E, fake retinol, or sunscreen to the best creams all rid those two vertical lines from the side of my nose down beside the lip. No matter what cream I put on, those lines are absorbed, and voila! I look line-free and much younger. Any cream works! Now that is a revelation!

Robbie  Lane Jackson

Sorry, meant to say, "rather be old than dead!"

Laura C

Sorry! "Fat chance" has more zip!

Kristin Espinasse

Great tip, Robbie 👍👍. Thanks.

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