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Entries from February 2020

Draguer: At what age are you "lucky" to be hit on (or even noticed at all)?

French token or jeton shopping cart chariot

Joyeuse Saint Valentin! That's Happy Valentine's Day in French. Photo: A "liste des courses" spotted at our local supermarché...where pick-up artists and good Samaritans operate. Don't miss today's vocabulary-packed story, below.

TODAY'S WORD: se faire draguer or se faire brancher

        : to get hit on

brancher une nana = to hit on a girl, to make a pass at a girl

CLICK HERE to listen to the following example sentence

Ah bon? Tu t'es fait draguer au supermarché?
Oh really? You got hit on at the supermarket?

Try Easy French Step-by-Step. Click here to view the book.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE  by Kristi Espinasse

"My Inner Hot Mama"

While putting away groceries I reached for an item my husband had requested--pleased to have brought back the right ones. "Found you some rasoirs," I shouted to the man two rooms down. "A nice man helped me...." I added, smiling to myself and waiting for a reaction. Such plaisanterie is healthy in a marriage, n'est-ce pas?

"Ah bon? Tu t'es fait draguer au supermarché?" Mr Two-Rooms-Down called back, feigning la jalousie.

This time I snickered, remembering what a French woman told me two years ago, "At your age, you should be grateful your husband is still so attracted to you." Her comment made me feel so....unsexy, unadventurous and perhaps even undeserving? I have heard a similar statement from American women, a generalized idea that at this age, we should be grateful for a man's attention.

Earlier, back at the grocery store, such words came to mind as I stood before the men's razor display, suspicious of the stranger who'd begun talking to me. Busy wondering "is this guy hitting on me?" a more humbling and sarcastic thought surfaced: "Ha! At your age!" It immediately silenced my Inner Hot Mama, who gets stuffed deeper and deeper into the psyche--the more I listen to the media and certain women.

"Vous cherchez un rasoir?" the man with curly black hair smiled.

"Oui. Pour mon mari," Yes, for my husband, I pointed out.

"Does he have soft or coarse hairs?" the man replied in English, with a thick French accent. His question set me back.

After all these years I should know whether my husband has soft or coarse whiskers! In a guilty panic I studied the stranger's stubble (a.k.a. la barbe de trois jours).

"Coarse!" I guessed.

"Here, these should be good for a man on vacation," he said, handing me a 6-pack of "Wilkinson Swords."

Vacation? He thinks I'm a tourist. I did not correct him. Instead, I said Merci, c'est vraiment gentil and, as he walked off, I thought of how absurd it was to have confused a pick-up artist with a good samaritan. The ego is a funny thing. One minute it's a Hot Mama, the next it tells itself it should be so grateful, at one's age, for even being noticed at all.

***

When Mr Two-Rooms-Down came into the kitchen, I touched his stubbly face. "What kind of whiskers do you have?" I said, handing him his razors. "Soft or course?"

"Je ne sais pas," he mumbled, pulling me close and planting a kiss on my middle-aged lips. Whatever the mainstream says, I will always be a hot mama in his heart. And for that I'm grateful.

***
EDIT ME: If you see une faute de frappe (a typo) in French or in English, I would greatly appreciate it if you would point it out in the comments or via email. Merci beaucoup!

Jean-marc teaching kristi golf at golf de dolce fregate provence near bandol
Photo from 2005. This weekend Jean-Marc and I celebrate 30 years since we met in a nightclub in Aix-en-Provence. My husband has enriched my life in a myriad of ways (I even got the word myriad from him, after seeing it in his recent chapter...), and even if I don't golf, I appreciate each new defi or challenge he sets for me, including a recent swim with the dolphins which I hope to tell you about. I've been in some uncomfortable places, because of Jean-Marc's adventurous nature, but oh the stories he gives me to tell! The biggest is our love story, which I am focusing on in our war of the roses and wine memoir. Our intercultural marriage hasn't been easy, as you will see. I hope you will consider buying our book-in-progress, and begin reading it in installments. Click here to support our book project by buying a copy of our memoir, The Lost Vineyard.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
Increase your French vocabulary with these useful terms from today's story

le rasoir
= razor

la plaisanterie = banter
n'est-ce pas? = isn't that true
ah, bon? = really
tu t'es fait draguer? = you got hit on?
la jalousie = jealousy
vous cherchez? = are you looking (for something)?
mon mari = my husband
la barbe de trois jours = stubble (stylish stubble)
vraiment = really
gentil = nice
je ne sais pas = I don't know

Valentines day in french roses cards
A valentine for you. I miss exchanging these colorful cards as we did once upon a time with all our classmates. Remember this practice? 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Boui-boui: Jackie and I lick windows in Miami while Jean-Marc gets stuck in immigration

Signs in key west floridaKeeping this French language journal going is a joyous struggle: there is joy in writing it and there is a struggle in maintaining it. Your help is not only appreciated--it keeps me employed. One very helpful way to support this site is to buy a book for a friend, via this link. Or scroll to the end of this post for other options. Now on to today's story, packed with useful French vocabulary in context. Enjoy and bonne lecture! 

Today's French Word: un boui-boui 

   : a small, cheap restaurant, a greasy spoon

Audio File: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read in French:  

À Freeport, une île de l'archipel des Bahamas, je me suis arrêté pendant 10 minutes dans un petit boui-boui pour avaler des ailes de poulet. In Freeport, an island in the Bahamas archipelago, I stopped for 10 minutes in a small greasy spoon to woof down some chicken wings.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

A Quick Jaunt to the Bahamas from Miami? Quel Calvaire!

***
All the mask-toting travelers at the airports in Miami, Marseilles, and Munich, made me ill-at-ease, but, apart from the coronavirus scare, our trip to Florida to visit our 22-year-old daughter went relatively smoothly.

Now relaxing on South Miami Beach, my husband suggested a day trip to the island of Bimini--a 4-hour boat ride aller-retour--I knew right away I didn't want to go. The old Kristi would've tagged along (and moaned and groaned the whole intrepid way). But the new Kristi simply released her thrill-seeking husband to court the unknown all on his own. "I'll spend the day with Jackie," I asserted, and so followed my instincts this time around...

...and was spared The 20-hour épreuve my husband would soon suffer....

On Sunday morning Jean-Marc's alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m. causing Jackie (asleep on an air mattress on the floor of our studio rental) to stir and me to ask a few pertinent questions: sun hat? water? ESTA* papers (in addition to his passport, would he need some sort of Visa or waiver)?  

Jean-Marc threw on his yellow and green Brazil soccer jersey, his old swim trunks, and donned his purple Phoenix Suns casquette in time to catch a shuttle that would take him to the port in Fort Lauderdale. As he rushed out the door into the cold dark street, I stretched cozily across the bed, enjoying the extra space and une grasse matinée. 

By 9:45, Jean-Marc was four hours into his journey to the Bahamas (and still waiting for his boat in the Fort Lauderdale terminal...). Meantime, ma fille et moi were en route to a leisurely breakfast at The W Hotel on South Beach. And quelle chance! Jackie's manager treated us to a free buffet, in thanks for Jackie's excellent service as a waitress at their establishment. Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! As we enjoyed les gaufres with heaps of cream, strawberries, and syrup, Jackie mentioned that Papa needed help with his odds-n-ends (yellow, green and purple...) wardrobe. "Your Dad is into vistas and not vêtements... Seashores and summits, not style or trends," I laughed, trying to imagine just where he was now in his adventure: snorkeling beneath turquoise waters? Sunning on a pristine Bahamas beach? Kissing a mermaid? (as he threatened to do when I declined to go with him).

As we ate we were blissfully unaware of Jean-Marc's own petit déj : he had only managed to down a coffee, too seasick from being stuck on a ferry boat. Turns out after that 45-minute shuttle from hell (crazy driver!) and the 2-hour wait at the port terminal, our day-tripper finally made it onto the boat for the 2-hour crossing...only to be redirected away from Bimini owing to rough waters! It was too bumpy, too dangerous to let passengers disembark. So the ship set sail to another island. 

Jackie left a gigantic tip for our waitress and thanked her manager before we left the 5-star hotel and headed to Miami's Design district to faire du lèches vitrines (that's "window licking" in French, i.e. window shopping). A few hours later we had a delicious snack before Jackie needed to head to work for her 4 p.m. shift.

By this time, still on an empty stomach, JM had earned his second pair of sealegs, having finally made it off the rocking boat. He had traveled 10 hours only to get back on a little bus that would drive him 30 minutes across Freeport island in time for 15 minutes of tourism (if you included the greasy chicken wings and beer he wolfed down at a God-forsaken boui-boui).  

Back at our cozy studio, Jackie showered and left for work while I enjoyed a few quiet hours to organize our bags for the next day's journey to Key West. So good not to have to rush! At 6 pm I put on a pretty necklace, some lipstick, fluffed my hair and headed back to the W Hotel for a solo dinner and the chance to see my daughter in action. Her colleagues gave me a grand welcome and showered my daughter with affection, assuring me she was in good company. One of the waiters opened a bottle of champagne in my honor, delivering it to my table with a flourish. I was sorry to have to refuse it, and how ironic that this happened a very special date: This week I celebrate 17 years of sobriety.* 

As I sat sipping bubbly (l'eau gazeuse) and being treated to a four-course meal (including lobster!) I did not know my poor husband, nary a chicken wing in his tummy, was about to be stuck in some hangar in Fort Lauderdale, nor did I realize he did anything other than snorkel or kiss mermaids for the day in the Bahamas....

When Jackie returned to our rental after 11 pm, her Dad was nowhere in sight. By midnight we were sick with worry until a message came through: JM was stuck in immigration. "What if they keep him?" Jackie worried, having had a few of her French friends experience the horror. 

At 1:15 a.m. our intrepid traveler returned from his bumpy ride (still swaying back and forth as he walked) and gladly ate the 5-star take-out from the dinner Jackie had helped treat me to, via her employee discount. After a glass of rosé and a full tummy, our marooned (if only in buses, terminals, and boats) daytripper sank into bed and was out like a light. The old Kristi would have been furious he was kissing mermaids in his sleep. But the new Kristi said, Let him dream his dreams. He deserves it.

Post note: Jean-Marc says the immigration officers were watching the Super Bowl, which took place that day in Miami, and that this is the reason for the delay in passport check. 

EDIT ME: If you see une faute de frappe (a typo) in French or in English, I would greatly appreciate it if you would point it out in the comments or via email. Merci beaucoup!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

bonne lecture = happy reading
le calvaire
= cross, ordeal 
un aller-retour = round trip, return trip
une épreuve
= ordeal, trial
la casquette = baseball cap
faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in, to lie in
ma fille et moi = my daughter and I
quelle chance = what luck!
Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! = how proud we are of our daughter!
une gaufre = waffle
Papa = Dad
un vêtement = item of clothing
le petit déj(euner) = breakfast
faire du lèche-vitrine(s) = to go window shopping
l'eau gazeuse = bubbly, sparkling water
un boui-boui = low quality eatery

ESTA = Electronic Papers for Travel Authorization

Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West
Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West.
Jean-Marc in Key West

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Une bêtise: You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

View from chateau de pibarnon
We are visiting our daughter in Miami, so I have prepared this re-run for you. I hope it makes you laugh! Photo taken at the beautiful Château de Pibarnon, where our story begins....

Today's Word: une bêtise

    : a mistake, something stupid, something foolish

Improve your French pronunciation with the book Exercises in French Phonics

Audio File: click here to listen to the following French:
Faites des bêtises, mais faites-les avec enthousiasme. -Colette
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Recently, Jean-Marc and I had the chance to help out with a French documentary about how France is seen abroad by the ones who love that country. A journalist was interested in hearing my story, after learning about our Franco-American life on a vineyard. There was one little pépin, though: we no longer live on a vineyard; thankfully this part was worked out when a kindly châtelain agreed to let us film chez lui.

We arrived at Château de Pibarnon after sunrise Saturday morning, to meet up with Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew. As Eric had a flight leaving in the next few hours, we quickly got to work...

Eric chateau de pibarnon
Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew


There is so much about filmmaking that I did not know. Naively, I figured we would stay an hour or so at the chateau, then return to La Ciotat to shoot the segment about blogging. (I had a bunch of cookies, madeleines, and other pick-me-ups waiting at home, but we would not get to those any time soon...)

Jean-marc talks wine
Jean-Marc, sharing about the difficult decision to sell our vineyard

After 5 hours at the vineyard, we peeled out of the vines in time for lunch--and not before I had made a few cringe-worthy gaffes. Gaffe number one occurred after we were fitted with microphones and instructed to drive up to the caveau de vente, or salesroom. As we reshot that scene several times, I noticed a few things about the film crew, and shared my flippant thoughts with Jean-Marc as we waited in our car for the next Action! call.

They are such a nice team, I began, buckling my seatbelt and chatting with Jean-Marc who was at the wheel. Everyone is so friendly! But I don't think the journalist and the cameraman are getting along... I grinned. 

That's when Jean-Marc looked over at me, matched my grin, and pointed to my microphone. The one I'd forgotten all about and it was recording away....

No time to die of embarrassment, the cameraman and the journalist (wearing headphones...) signaled in unison now for us to drive, and the filming began again, only this time my face was flushed red. Creeping out of the car after the scene was over, I rejoined the film crew. The soundman (wearing headphones...) discreetly pointed out to me: You have a mute button on that little box (in your pocket) if you need it....

I smiled profusely at him and the other two professionals (my eyes pleading forgiveness). Thankfully punishment came quickly enough and I could pay for my chatty sin with the following humiliation, which garnered from the others, I hope, a good inward laugh...at my expense this time.

This happened after I finally got to the restroom after holding it all morning. Once inside the WC, I tore off half my outfit only to discover the dreaded microphone in full volume recording...

A big dilemma ensued: to pee or not to pee? But oh! oh! I had to go!

Not wanting so much as one tinkle to be recorded (and imagining the upcoming remix or montage), I searched desperately for the mute button--and could not find it! I tried ripping the cord out of the unit but became confused by technology (so badly I had to faire pipi). In a last-ditch effort, I gagged the little microphone from hell, the little tattletale, with the help of my wool blazer.

And I promise to pull the wool over my own lips, next time I get the urge to gossip!! 

--
Many thanks to the very kind (and good-humored!) film crew. I will share more about the production and team members when the documentary comes out. Jean-Marc and I are one of many to participate in it...at least I hope to appear in it...after today's little story!

UPDATE: By springtime, I received an email from the director who informed me that our segment of the documentary was cut. All footage of Jean-Marc and me ended up on the cutting room floor. At this point, I'd be relieved to learn it was my recording gaffe that got us there. But I have a sinking feeling that when the camera began to roll, more bêtises ensued which makes me think I'd better stick to writing and stay away from filming!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

une bêtise = a stupid thing
une gaffe = a blunder
compte-rendu = an account of something, a report
la mise-en-scène = staging
le pépin = glitch, snag, mishap
le châtelain = chateau owner
le caveau de vente = wine salesroom
le WC = toilet, lavatory
le montage = editing session

Kristi in cdp vines
Tinkle tinkle little star. After posting this picture on social media, I did get told not to let this experience go to my head. Rest assured that before anything has the chance to go to my head, life will always intervene (as in today's story of the latrine!) But if I ever get out of line--just call me Tinkle Tinkle Little Star.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.