The lavender fields of Valensole beckon, their heavenly scent entices, and the backdrop of the mountains make me yearn to paint them. Why not come and paint them with me? Trip/tour info at Tessa's site Paint Provence With Tess or email email@example.com
PQ, immanquable, le coton-tige, peau des fesses...
(Today, all the new vocabulary words are in the story...so hup, hup, let's get going....)
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristi Espinasse
"A French Quirk?"
One thing I began to notice after moving to France was all the pink toilet paper! The supermarket shelves were full of it as were all of the petits coins de la France: it stood out at friends' powder rooms, was inmanquable at restaurants and the rest stops along the autoroute. The ubiquitous pink tissue (more polite than 'PQ'...) dots itself across l'Héxagone in one great question mark!
In spite of being the biggest Francophile in the world, one who put every quirk of French life up on a pedestal, I could not relate to the French penchant for le papier rose. And as soon as I learned that le papier blanc did indeed exist, I begged my husband to buy it instead. Like this, our house has been free of pink toilet paper for twenty years now.
But last week my daughter did the shopping, returning with a toilet paper value pack. 24 extra big rolls of PAPIER ROSE. "They didn't have anything else," Jackie explained. So touched that she had noticed this quirk of her mother's, I all but embraced the purchase. But Jackie's brother downright hugged it!
"I'll take it! I'll take it!" Max--my son and starving student--volunteered. "I don't care about the color--ça coute la peau des fesses! Toilet paper costs an arm and a leg in Aix-en-Provence!"
Et comme ça the toilet paper problem was settled. It would return to school with a very grateful bachelor.
Then yesterday Tess came over with a lovely group of watercolorists, including one of my readers, Valerie, and three of Valerie's longtime friends: Meredith, Marsha, and Trilby. I didn't make it to the store in time to switch out the pink rolls, and so resolved that if anyone would be okay with pink toilet paper it would be these artists - to whom color is a vital medium (indeed many artists, like my feisty Mother, abhor white! But I am getting off topic...)
As Tess pulled up to the house and I saw all the new faces inside the car, I did my best to appear at ease, even whispering to Tess, as her group exited the vehicle, just how relaxed I felt this time. But my body was showing other signs and, as I spoke my eyes and my nose and my skin began to drip...
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a tissue. Having no Kleenex in the house--and certain this friendly-looking group of women would take no offense--I proceeded to dry my eyes and nose and brow with a wad of pink toilet paper. "So lovely to see you all, " I sniffed. "What a warm group!" Meantime my body poured out its anxiety, drop by drop.
Once the ladies were settled before their paint trays, I hurried up to the house to check my mascara. Given how my eyes had watered, I was sure to find black streaks running down my cheeks. But I couldn't have imagined the real disaster when I looked into the mirror.
My eyes were plastered with toilet paper! There it was--my old pink foe--stuck to my eyelashes and paper machéed to the crow's feet just beyond! Even more alarming was the realization that I had been posing with the artists for photos...I with little clumps of pink TP glued to my eyes like far-out false lashes!
Using un coton-tige to clean up the mess, I rehearsed what I could say to my guests. But I never got the chance to explain. By the time I walked back out into the sunshine, to rejoin the warm circle of artists, I had completely forgotten about it!
And from this day forth, I shall stock my bathroom with rolls and rolls of pink papier toilette--and so honor the day...that yet one more anxiety up and rolled away.
* * *
Max (who scored all the pink TP), Tessa and the artists on a Paint Provence Tour that stopped at our vineyard a few years ago.
hup, hup! = allez, come on
l'autoroute (f) = motorway, freeway
PQ = (vulgar but popular term) for papier cul (butt paper)
le petit coin = the toilet (the bathroom)
inmanquable = impossible to miss, unmistakeable
le papier = paper
rose = pink
coûter la peau des fesses = to cost the skin of one's arse (to cost an arm and a leg)
un coton-tige = Q-tip, cotton swab
My friend Tessa teaching our Max to paint when he was little. For more info on Tessa's Paint Provence tours in France, click here.
Doing garden work with my son Max and my Mom (behind the camera) is a wonderful way to rest the mind and the brain. Thank you all for the helpful tips you left me following the story Petits Oublis, about forgetfulness and memory loss.
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