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Frappadingue - and our French-infused story

TOISER + Our Fictional Story using (so far three-quarters of) your French words!


By the artist Cham (Count Amédée-Charles-Henry de Noé) (France, Paris, 1819-1879) — Image credit Lacma; artwork in the public domain

Good news: Our Mas des Brun rosé has made it to Los Angeles just before Easter! You can find it at Larchmont Village Wine, 223 N. Larchmont Blvd. Phone: 323 856 8699 -- Call to make sure they have some in stock before going, and please say "Hi" to Simon from me (Jean-Marc). He has always supported my wines. Thanks for your support as well.


    : to measure
    : to look at scornfully, to look somebody up and down

AUDIO FILE: click here to listen to the following sentence in French

La rage de vouloir conclure est une des manies les plus funestes et les plus stériles qui appartiennent à l'humanité. Chaque religion et chaque philosophie a prétendu avoir Dieu à elle, toiser l'infini et connaître la recette du bonheur. Quel orgueil et quel néant ! Je vois, au contraire, que les plus grands génies et les plus grandes œuvres n'ont jamais conclu. --Gustave Flaubert

The fury of wishing to conclude is one of the most disastrous and sterile manias that belong to mankind. Every religion and every philosophy has claimed to have God to itself, to measure the infinite and to know the recipe for happiness. What pride and what naught! I see, on the contrary, that the greatest geniuses and the greatest works have never concluded.

Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Washington Post calls it "A glorious romantic confection unlike any other in movie history." See The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, click here


The account you are about to read was written with the French words readers submitted here. The words appear in the exact order in which they were submitted in this comments box--leading the story forward along an unpredictable path! This unique collaboration (thank you very much for the words you sent in) was also the chance to practice fiction-writing (something I've tried before -- at the Paris Catacombs or at the Barber Shop or in a parallel universe).


(Please submit one in the comments box after you've read part one. Enjoy!)

This is the story of Plume, a two-ton hippopotame who was starved of life's most basic need, touch (la caresse). Neighbors pointed the finger of blame at Plume's only surviving parent, Olivia who, they say, spent her days watching Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.

Plume and Olivia lived in Toiser, named after the judgemental inhabitants who have the habit of looking outsiders up and down. When the Toisers caught hold of the mother hippos movie addiction, they deemed it choquant and sent in a social worker who hauled Olivia away. They did not bother to send an Interchangeable (the government's term for "surrogate mama hippo"). Therefore Plume, alone and désabusé,  clung to her only companion, a doudou (a little stuffed Hippo) named Ronronner whose snoring helped drown out, and so adoucir, Plume's fears. Olivia taught Plume that all fear came from the Loup-Garou. "Pay no attention to it!"Olivia cautioned her daughter. Focus on La Douceur--the force of softness, gentleness, and kindness. 

The Hippos of Toiser knew not this Love. They grabbed for échantillions of it at the quincaillerie, only to discard Love at the déchetterie (called DODU as it was plump with the city's rejects). Olivia and her daughter, the Toisers suspected, had an endless source of this foreign substance which, they guessed, came from Eolienne Field--so the mayor had all 7000 wind turbines destroyed, going as far as to have a notaire to draw up a legal contract forbidding windmills anywhere in Toiser and, by extension, the Agape (The Universe).

"C'est époustouflant!" Olivia told Plume (mother and daughter kept in touch via DORLOTER, a service similar to SMS--more than text, loved ones could emit cuddles--miettes that sustained Plume, who had never been starved of affection (as the Toisers insinuated) and who, thanks to Mama Hippo Olivia, knew the true meaning of Agape: more than the "The Universe," Agape was Love incarnate...)

"Love is sweet as ananas," Olivia murmured via DORLOTER to Plume and her little stuffed hippo, Ronronner, as they drifted off to sleep each night...

L'amour voyage

Love has no griffes, no claws
Love is l'intuition
Love is not malheureuse
Love knows not violence
Love looks over us, il nous surplombe
Love warms us like a good pair of pantoufles
Love refreshes us, like pamplemousses

Love is there when the sky darkens, au crépuscule
It's in a kinésintherapeute's hands, as he works
It appears in the strangest places, inattendu
It is as nourishing as a truckload of cacahuoètes
It is the source of la paix

Le truc, the thing about Love is:

You can't shut it up (tu ne peux pas fermez sa bouche!)
It won't crash or collapse (ça ne dégringole pas!)
It's truly a gift, un cadeau
Its longing--son envie--is for all to know Love

Love has no prickly points comme un chardon
It is one's true Petit Bijou
Love is une journée à la plage
C'est le sable qui effleure la peau pendant qu'on lézarde

Sand skimming over the skin while we bask in the sun

Hungry for love, some chase skirts (les coureurs de jupon...)
Others overeat--one hundred aubergines!
There are those who only ever flirter, or court love
Still others who are rendered crazy, folle in love's absense

But for those who want so much as to apercevoir Love
Who endeavor to see it from a panoramique viewpoint (un belvédère)
For a bird's eye view with les oiseaux, putting all bonne chance on their side...

They need only remove the thin tulle covering their vision
Quiet the lost monkeys--les ouistitis perdus--in their brains
Take a shovel to their hardened heart and let Love begin its enracinement....

"Jadis... Long ago..." Olivia whispered to Plume (for Ronronner, the littlest (stuffed) Hippo, had fallen asleep and was snoring softly), "when I met your father, mon coeur battait...." The Toisers accused me of mortal sin, l'Extase, said I was nothing but une coquine, and that I would be thrown into Le Machin-Chose where I would suffer until I reached le troisième age. That is how I ended up here, without electricity or l'eau courante. My cellmate, a jovial flâneuse, was arrested for growing roses called Cuisse de nymphe emue which she tossed into her yaourtière to make "Serrée" (a dessert that doubles as a thigh-thinner). 

"Tombeaux! Tombeaux!" Ronronner shouted. Plume's little stuffed hippo was having a nightmare--evoqué by DORLOTER which sent out "mind slaps" (instead of cuddles) when it sensed non-conformist conversation. 

"Mon Petit Chou," whispered Plume, "Mon petit ver de terre...hush..."

With Roni fell back to sleep, Olivia continued her story of life in prison: Le Robot patrols at night, when the corridors are lit by l'étoile du soir--the same star that's become, for Flâneuse and me, a great comforter, notre paraclet. And I am hopeful, once again, that I'll return home with you and Ronronner, to enjoy Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. Every time I see it, it reminds me of how I met your father, in the cinema's vestiaire! Your father can't remember the cloakroom, he says he was blinded by mes jambes! He called one Mouton and the other Bonbon! And I called him"L'Ecureuil."


(to be continued...corrections, comments--and story title suggestions--welcome in the comments via the link at the end of post. You might also pose questions which could move the story forward. Merci beaucoup.)

Olivia and Plume
Olivia & Plume, Mother and Daughter Hippo. After writing this story, I went looking for a stuffed hippo of my own, like Plume's Ronronner ("Roni"). One of these would make a great writing mascot, don't you think? As for the snoring, which Roni, is known for, our golden retriever Smokey, who sleeps beside me as I write, could offer sound effects!

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