Cliff - Falaise in Cassis (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Today's story takes place in Cassis, where risks are taken... especially with fashion. Read on...

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(ah graf ay) verb

    : to staple, to fasten, hook up, clip together

Audio File: hear Jean-Marc*: Download MP3 or wav
J'ai agrafé mon pantalon. I stapled my pants.

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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

In the narrow lobby of Hotel Le Golf (Cassis), I wait for my husband. I am flipping through a slim Souleiado catalogue that I have found on a little side table. The model on the cover is wearing a seductive evening gown en soie. Her shoulders are bare, her neckline, golden before the plunge.

I look down at my own pasty "plunge".... As for my dress, I begin to have doubts. We are on our way to a wedding... will this dress fera l'affaire? It is knee-length, showing off my neon-white legs. The fabric is black and made of gauze. There is raspberry stitching along the square neckline, voilà for subtle design. My daughter has helped me by gathering the side ties into a noeud papillon in the back of the robe. The bow tie she has fashioned reminds me of the way I wore my dresses... in the third grade.

I try to put aside doubt, reasoning, the dress is new! Shouldn't newness alone guarantee it is not démodé? 

Suddenly all of my self-doubts dissolve the minute I see my husband, whereupon the focus is no longer on my threads... but on his.

Tossing the magazine onto the table... I study my husband's getup. What an entrance he has made! Even the woman behind the counter has dropped her calculator and lowered her glasses. Take a look at him

I wonder, why isn't his dress shirt tucked in?
"I like it this way," he insists.
"But you must tuck your shirt in when you wear a cravate!"

"Do you have a stapler?" my husband asks the woman behind the counter, dismissing me. That is when I notice his jeans, the bottom seams of which are coming undone. Jeans?! Undone seams?! 

"A big one or a small one?" the woman asks, searching for une agrafeuse. The question seems absurd.
"Une petite fera l'affaire," Jean-Marc answers.

And just like that—with a no-nonsense sweep of the stapler, tac! tac! tac!—he fixes his pantalons.

I look over to the woman behind the counter, whose reading glasses are now dangling from her hand, as if knocked over by one Frenchman's innovation. "Pas mal!" she declares, appraising Mr Fix It. 

I gather my purse from the side table, when my eyes catch on the Souleiado catalogue. The model on the cover is now looking up at me and her head is shaking, condemningly. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Next time help him dress, darling. As for you....

But, not giving her the chance to utter one word more, I turn my head and hurry out the door. 


:: Le Coin Commentaire ::

Corrections, suggestions, and stories of your own are most welcome! Click here to comment.


Part One (or the last scene in this story)
 In case you missed the "suite" to this story, read part one: click here.

French Vocabulary

Souleiado = a maker of Provençal fabrics, clothing, and linens
en soie = in silk
fera l'affaire = will fit the bill
voilà = presto
noeud papillon = bow tie
une cravate = tie
une agrafeuse = a stapler
une petite fera l'affaire = a small one will do it
le pantalon = pants


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Today's column is in French and English and is written by my French friend Barbara. Remember her? She was jumping off cliffs in the "Illico" story three days ago. Today she leaves les falaises* behind and contemplates fur in her story "Fashion Victim." Don't miss it!

fourré (foo-ray) adjective
1. fur-lined; fleece-lined
2. filled, filling, filling paste
3. thicket (botany)

les gants fourrés = fur-lined gloves
un gâteau fourré à la crême = a cream-filled cake
un coup fourré = an exchanged hit, double hit (in fencing)


un coup fourré = a stab in the back; an underhand trick
une paix fourrée = false peace, mock peace
se cacher dans les fourrés = to hide in the bushes

*une falaise = a cliff

Citation du Jour:

Peut-être la paix est-elle plus que le bonheur.
Perhaps peace is more than happiness.
--Henri Bosco

"Fashion Victim"
by Barbara Barles

En lisant ma rubrique adorée A Day in a French Life ce matin, j'ai pu constater que mon amie Kristi avait bien retenu ce qu'il nous faudra porter cette saison automne-hiver 2004/2005 pour être dans le coup! Il me semble toutefois qu'un détail (de taille) t'a échappé Kristi ...: les bottes fourrées!

En effet, lors d'un récent après-midi lèche-vitrines à Cannes, j'ai constaté à ma grande stupéfaction, que pour être à la page cette année, il nous faudrait chausser, nous les filles, de drôles de bottes, style "esquimaux".

Bien qu'ayant souvent froid aux pieds l'hiver, j'ai beau essayer d'imaginer à quelles tenues assortir cet accessoire incontournable, il me semble que la seule qui soit vraiment adaptée soit la combinaison de ski ! Hélas, je ne pense pas que les créateurs l'aient envisagé ainsi...

Pourtant, et alors que je commençais à me faire une raison, en me persuadant qu'avec un jean je n'aurais peut-être pas l'air trop ridicule (quoi que ?) je me suis sentie comme soulagée lorsqu'une phrase prononcée par une commentatrice de défilés de mode m'est revenue à l'esprit: "Cette année, être tendance n'est plus tendance".

Ouf ! Cela m'ôte une belle épine du pied (c'est le cas de le dire)! Je ne serai pas obligée d'avoir l'air déguisée en Inuit pour aller bosser ou pour aller chercher mon fils à l'école!

English Text
While reading my adored column A Day in a French Life this morning, I noted that my friend Kristi understood what we need to wear this fall 2004/2005 season in order to be in style. It seems to me, however, that one detail (of great size) escaped you, Kristi....: fur boots!

As a matter of fact, while out window shopping in Cannes one recent afternoon I noted, to my great surprise, that in order to be in style this year we must put on, us girls, some very funny boots..."Eskimo" style.

While I often have cold feet in the winter, I have a hard time imagining what sort of outfits to match with this indispensable accessory. It seems to me that the only thing that could really go with them is a ski outfit. Unfortunately, I don't think the designers had imagined the furry boots in this way.

Yet, and just when I began to resign myself to wearing them, convincing myself that with a pair of jeans I might not look too ridiculous (on second thought...) I felt very relieved when a statement by a fashion commentator came to mind: "This year, to be trendy is no longer trendy".

Phew! That takes a great thorn out of my foot (how true in this case!) I will no longer be obliged to look dressed up as an Inuit for work or when I pick my son up at school!

Fashion Related Expressions from today's story:

être dans le coup = to be in (on the style)
être à la page = to be up to date (on fashions, trends...)
être tendance = to be trendy
un après-midi lèche-vitrines = an afternoon spent window shopping

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.