TODAY’S WORD: être sur son trente-et-un
: to be all dressed up, all dolled up
Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
“Être sur son trente-et un”
Behind a curtain at Le Printemps department store, dans une cabine d’essayage, my daughter is trying on an elegant black pantsuit. The gabardine costume is similar to an outfit a friend wore to Saturday’s dressy gala...
“Jackie, that looks great on you! It’s a classic and you will have it for a very long time. Dress it up or down—you could wear it just about anywhere!"
My 24-year-old agreed, adding, “I can wear it to work....”
Her comment was so innocent... Truth be told this was not an appropriate outfit for her new job. Should I gently enlighten her? After all, this would not be the same dress code as Baccarat... shouldn’t she know that by now?
By now, seven weeks since leaving Miami after une escroquerie, our cadette was doing better. Gone was the numbness, la colère, and the depression. Maybe it was a good sign she suddenly wanted to wear a power suit? I just wouldn’t want her to feel out of place—when even France feels out of place to her right now. And I’m so afraid she’ll get back on that airplane and disappear...yet I’ve got to be honest with her and quit handling my grown girl with kid gloves.
“I don’t think this is something you could wear for your new job at the ski shop...”
“Pourquoi pas?” Jackie countered and this time Innocence wasn’t talking. This was Boldness. She reminds me of her grandmother when that rebel spark flies out.
Jackie’s grandmother, Jules, also worked in a ski shop. While we wore jeans (my sister Heidi and I worked there too) Mom wore silk dresses and patent leather pumps at The Alpine Ski Keller, in Phoenix Arizona. But that was the 80s. That was also a time of transition in Jules’ life. There, in “The Valley of the Sun,” Mom went on to become a top producer in real estate before burnout led to her early retirement in Mexico.
Back in France, in Serre Chevalier Vallée, Jackie will soon be in a similar transition. While she has recovered from a terrible scam, she is still trying to find her footing, après avoir perdu pied. Going back to Miami is tempting, but something tells her ce n’est pas le bon moment. So when a friend put up a Help Wanted sign in their family-owned ski shop, the universe seemed to be nudging.
Bienvenue à Jules Melquiond Sports!
Since getting the job, Jackie’s been busy researching the company, founded by Jules Melquiond. champion de ski et ex-slalomeur de la grande équipe de France des années 60.... Searching the company’s Instagram account and its website, Jackie shared various nuggets with me as I cooked dinner: “Did you know the shop sells luxury ski apparel? And that it boasts one of the best French boot-fitters in the country?”
Skilled boot-fitters? Our girl is sure to find her footing in the mountains! And high-end apparel? She might be able to sport that elegant costume after all. But for now, please join me in wishing Jackie bonne chance at Jules Melquiond Sports. She begins training next week!
I leave you with a postcard from the collection of love letters Jean-Marc sent me 30 years ago... the message on the back is timeless as our daughter begins a new chapter in the Alps.
Serre Chevalier est un pays magnifique. Tout est sain et je me plais à venir ici...avec toi. Serre Chevalier is a beautiful place. Everything is healthy and I enjoy coming here...with you. —Jean-Marc
être sur son trente-et-un = to dress up
la cabine d’essayage = fitting room, dressing room
le costume = suit
une éscroquerie = a scam
un(e) cadet(te) = youngest
la colère = anger
pourquoi pas? = why not
Serre Chevalier Vallée = major ski resort in southeastern France
perdre pied = to lose one's footing, to be overwhelmed
ce n’est pas le bon moment = this isn’t the right time
champion de ski = ski champion
équipe de France = French team
bonne chance! = good luck!
For more photos and a story about a stolen kiss in the Alps, click here.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety