Audacity and "avoir du culot": going beyond the limits in Elba, Italy
How to say "not-to-be-missed" or "must-see" in French + tonight's winetasting in Marseilles with Château de Pibarnon and Chateau de Roquefort

Raconter des salades (Fountain Guy takes us for a ride) = today's expressions: se faire empapaouter or se faire berner:

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BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

se faire berner 

    : to be deluded, to be duped, taken in

se faire empapaouter

    : to be had, to be screwed

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the following text in French:

Click here to listen to the sound file

Se faire berner ou se faire empapaouter, voilà deux façons pour dire que nous nous sommes faits prendre pour des cons
To be duped or to be had, two ways to say that we were taken for idiots.


    by Kristi Espinasse

I love breaking down words and finding meaning--or forcing a meaning if necessary. Take the enormously hilarious French word "empapaouter": from this, I get "to out papa". Only, we're not outing papa in today's story--we are outing the man who was hired to repair our fountain (here-to-for called Fountain Guy). 

Come to think of it, we are "outing papa"--or exposing a pathological liar--for Fountain Guy's first mensonge was, "My daughter was in the I couldn't show up the other day." This was his excuse when Jean-Marc called to remind him of our appointment here in the front garden where a lovely, broken down, fountain was in need of repair and remodeling. After getting three devis, or estimates, we chose Fountain Guy. 

When Fountain Guy finally showed up, after a few initial delays, I greeted him at the front gate. "I'm so sorry about your daughter."

Fountain Guy looked confused, so I elaborated, "I hope she is out of the hospital."

"Merci," said he, proceeding to the fountain, to have another look at it. Over the next 6 months, he would repeat this entrance (if he entered our yard at all): there would be another hesitation on his part, another excuse ("the parts are in my garage and my wife has the key" or "I don't have my truck so I can't transfer the material today" or "my other clients are giving me a hard time"). 

Early on I made excuses for Fountain Guy. He's young. He has a little problem with time management. And, out of desperation to believe his intentions were good, I said to my husband: He seems to be having personal problems.

Fountain destruction

But my husband wasn't buying it. Il ment come il respire! Jean-Marc insisted and, 6 months into a sentimental project which should have taken a few weeks, our petit bassin looks worse than before: the center column was knocked out, leaving a pile of rubble--and six inches of murky water currently attract the first mosquitos of the season. When Jean-Marc tried to pump out the water, he discovered the pump had broken. He was about to resort to pouring bleach into the pond, when I protested: Pas de javel dans le jardin!

"Anything to keep the mosquitos away!" Jean-Marc argued. The fountain situation now had us at odds with each other! This was no time to divide. It was time to unite! 

I usually hide behind Jean-Marc--making him do the "confrontational work". But I had had enough of Fountain Guy. It was time to out mama! Time to let the big mama residing within me give this guy a piece of her mind:

The next time Fountain Guy showed up with another excuse as to why he could not work today, I said: "This isn't working. At this point it would be best for you to return our money." Now, dear reader, if that didn't sound fierce to you, you can imagine how flimsy it sounded to Fountain Guy who did not flinch....

PRISE EN FLAGRANT DELIT (Caught red-handed)
Taking Fountain Guy to small claims court for the 300  euros would be complicated. We had no choice but to give him two last chances, which would have turned into 2000 last chances if Jean-Marc hadn't caught him en flagrant délit!  This happened when Fountain Guy didn't show up again. So Jean-Marc rang him. Incredibly, Fountain Guy answered and said, "I can't come today. I am working at a construction site in La Seyne-sur-Mer."

My husband hung up in frustration and went along with his day, which began with a doctor's appointment. After the doctor didn't show up for the appointment (!), Jean-Marc left the medical office and headed to Darty (electronics store) to look for a cable for our T.V. ....and who did he see dressed to the nines in an elegant suit and standing in the very same aisle? 

Fountain Guy looked like he'd just seen a ghost! Jean-Marc's words were brief: "I am not your father, he began... "Je ne suis pas votre père. Mais, si je l'étais, je vous conseillerais de dire la verité plutôt que de raconter des salades!" (I'm not your father. But if I were, I would advise you to tell the truth rather than to tell lies.)

Post note: This was a sentimental project as the repair of our fountain was a thoughtful housewarming gift from several readers here, thanks to Margaret, who suggested it. The experience with the fountain guy cast a very dark cloud over the project. The good news is we have been reimbursed...and will be able to find a new fountain guy. I already have dependable somebody in mind: Mr. D.

un mensonge = a lie
un devis = estimate, quote
mentir = to lie
il ment comme il respire = he's lying through his teeth
le petit bassin = the children's pool (or little pool)
pris en flagrant delit = to be caught in the act
raconter des salades = to tell stories, to tell fibs

-Bonne Maman lemon tartlettes and many other French grocery items available here.

-365 Days of French Expressions. See the book.

-La Roche-Posay sunscreen
- rated the best by Consumer Reports!

-Eiffel Tower Peace Sign T-shirt, order here.

If you haven't yet read my book, please check it out. Many thanks! Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

First iris in our La Ciotat garden
First iris in our garden here in La Ciotat

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety