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Today's Word: voir
: to see, watch, look at
voir la vie en rose = to look on the bright side
Audio: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following:
La marque constante de la sagesse est de voir le miraculeux dans le banal. The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
On another of those eye-opening walks (whether for the sunset or the beauty in an encounter) Mom and I were once again enchanted by strangers.
We were halfway along our favorite sentier, when two figures appeared on the horizon. As the couple came into focus, I saw her headscarf and glimpsed his long beard. Malgré moi, my mind interpreted the incoming data:
headscarf + long beard = formal religion observed
Acting out of what I believed was respect, I smiled at the woman but carefully avoided eye contact with the man. Don't ask how I came up with such a protocol, except it was loosely based on a conversation with a North African friend who wore the same modest headscarf: "Men and women," she explained, "unless married, are not to be alone in the same car."
Surely there were exceptions to la règle. I don't doubt she could drive with her father or her son or her nephew or cousin. There was so much to learn about my friend's culture and I enjoyed those days, sipping coffee with her in my kitchen, sharing our faiths.
Meantime, back to the future, Mom and I weren't in a car, but I didn't want to take any chances and end up crossing some sort of invisible boundary when the couple, now a few feet ahead of us, passed. As Mom was unusually quiet tonight, chances were low she would strike up a conversation with the les inconnus--even if it is her joy to do so. We were just about to pass the couple, honorably so, when the unexpected happened....
The man suddenly lunged at us! Flailing an invisible sword through the air, he shouted something unintelligible.
I think Mom caught on before I did, recognizing the man's mock sparring. Turns out he was only pointing out--in a most illustrative way--my own headdress: a wide-brimmed black felt hat.
Confused, I looked at my mom who smiled back playfully at the man with the beard. Mimicking his comic gesture: she swept her own invisible sword back and forth, fashioning a "Z" in the air.
"Zorro!" She said, repeating the man's unintelligible word (or one that hadn't made sense moments ago).
Reaching for my hat, I remembered what it looked like and sure enough--along with my black jeans and black coat, it all brought to mind that sword-swinging character.
"Oui, oui, Zorro!" I laughed, looking the bearded-man directly in the eyes, breaking whatever assumptions and oddly-concocted conclusions I had drawn, letting him know his humor was spot on. Touché!
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I leave you with a picture of my funloving Mom as she is wearing a similar hat to the one I had on that day. Enjoy, and remember: ne jugez pas un livre par sa couverture or you might miss a wonderful story!
My Mom, on one of our evening walks. I have a similar hat to Mom's, only the hatband is different...see mine below.
le sentier = path
malgré moi (malgré soi) = involuntarily
la règle = rule
les inconnus = the strangers
touché! = you win!
ne jugez pas un livre par sa couverture = don't judge a book by its cover
qui sait = who knows
For more French phrases, try The Penguin French Phrase Book.
Zorro? I wear wide-brimmed hats in the winter to help keep the bright sun off my face. Mom wears hers because it keeps her warm and she likes the style. Check out these felt hats and protect your skin, as I have to. And qui sait...wearing one might lead to a mind-opening encounter.
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