Eight Months in Provence, A Junior Year Abroad, 30 Years Late
For thirty years, Diane Covington-Carter dreamed of living in France and immersing herself in the country and language that spoke to her heart and soul. At age fifty, when she set off to fulfill that yearning, she learned that a long-cherished dream can become even more powerful from the waiting. Order the book.
Today's Word: le flouze
: cash, dough, moolah
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...by Kristi Espinasse
Last night I was startled to hear our doorbell ring at an unusual hour. The sonnette, which is located at our front gate, was buzzing with insistence and its shrill coursed through my body like a bad vibe.
The first thought that came to mind was, Oh no! This can't be happening! Not again!
All alone in the house, I feared a prowler was using The Doorbell Scam--a way of checking if anyone is home before attempting a break-in. This happened to my neighbor and when she did not come to the door (or so much as turn on the porch light) the unwelcome guest entered her home! It was only when she called out for her petit-fils (believing it was him walking down the hallway) that the robber fled.
Having come face-to-face with an intruder last March, it seemed the same nightmare was happening all over again. Rebelote! It was, again, pitch dark outside and, once again, my husband was 45 minutes away in Marseilles (watching le foot just like the last time!).
And, pareil, I was tucked into bed watching a video on YouTube! But this time all the shutters were latched and secured--and a light was purposely left on in the downstairs bathroom (experts [criminals...] say an indirect light is best--it leaves burglars guessing). And there was my fearless mom--even if she was in the room below me (accessible only from the outside of our house. But Mom wouldn't have heard the doorbell and so I was on my own).
When I heard that buzzer I was chilled, but wasted no time in letting whoever was out there know that somebody was home!
That somebody hurried down the stairs in her mismatched pajamas, floppy socks, and some Nike pool slides (I lost my pantoufles. Borrowed these from my daughter). Summoning our groggy golden retriever, I threw open the front door and, over Smokey's menacing barks, demanded to know who was out there. QUI EST LA?!
C'est les pompiers, came a meek voice from behind the metal portillon.
Yah, right! Just this morning another neighbor shared a theiving tactic wherein the bad guys throw on a fake municipal shirt and act like they are here to inspect or to help in some way....
Charging up to the front gate, a limp in my stride (those loose socks and pool slides...), I narrowed my eyes: Les pompiers?Pourquoi vous êtes là? I demanded, scrutinizing the man on the other side of the fence (whilst Smokey was suddenly a ball of docility. Where'd my killer dog go?).
C'est pour le calendrier... the stranger answered.
Oh...The annual Firemen's Calender....wherein the firemen go door to door for donations. I stood on my tiptoes to look over the gate, and get a good view of a nametag and uniform. Well, it looked legit... And the young man looked so kind and innocent.
Don't fall for it! I reminded myself.
C'est très tard pour sonner chez les gens. It's very late to be ringing doorbells, I growled--unaware it was only 8 pm, but when the sun goes down in winter, it seems like midnight to me.
Oui, the young man replied. But I've just now finished my shift. Sorry to bother you. In addition to looking innocent, he was very humble. I followed my gut which was telling me to chill out, all's well you can let down your guard.
Well, I said, my legs still shaking in fear as they had the last time, sorry for being so aggressive--c'est juste que je me méfie. I thanked him for his service (un grand merci to all the firefighters out there!!) and hurried to the house to look for some cash--or flouze (a funny word at this point in the story to lighten things up), feeling kind of floozy myself barely dressed in my PJs waving a tip.
la sonnette = bell
le petit-fils = grandson
rebelote = same story again
le foot = soccer
pareil = the same
la pantoufle = slipper
qui est là? = who is there?
le pompier = firefighter
le portillon = gate
je me méfie = I'm cautious
collecte = fund-raising
flouze = cash
Related stories: to have sea urchins in your pockets.
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety