un escalier
un fouinard


essuyer (es-wee-yay) verb
1. to wipe, to dry
2. to mop
3. to clean; to dust
4. to wipe up; to mop up

s'essuyer ses pieds = to wipe one's feet (before entering)
essuyer la vaisselle = to dry the dishes
essuyer une perte = to suffer a loss
essuyer un refus = to meet with a refusal
essuyer les plâtres = (lit: to wipe the plasters) to be the guinea pig

un essuie-glace = a windshield wiper
un essuie-tout = a paper towel
un essuie-mains = a hand towel

Citation du Jour:
Le rire, comme les essuie-glaces, permet d'avancer même s'il
n'arrête pas la pluie.

Laughter, like windshield wipers, permits us to advance even if it
doesn't stop the rain.
--Gérard Jugnot

A Day in a French Life...

At a busy intersection near St. Tropez a woman runs up to the Peugeot 307 two cars behind us, shakes sudsy water from a plastic Evian bottle onto the windshield and lunges forward to wipe the glass with one of those hand-held rubber-bladed window wipers. When the car's occupants remain motionless, the woman gives an exaggerated shrug before advancing to the quatre-quatre* just behind us. The driver automatically reacts by activating the car's windshield wipers. A clever way to ward off unwanted washer services!

Next, the woman navigates through traffic to another car, this time to the cherry red Mini Cooper in the lane to our left and splashes water on it while its driver wags a manicured fingernail back and forth in

Off to the side of the road, under a majestic parasol pine tree which throws shade on the parched wheat-colored grass below, two more Gitans* lay sideways atop a blanket, bottles of sudsy water between them. Une pause sieste?*

It is a sweltering day on the Côte d'Azur,* and I sympathize with the women who are trying to make ends meet via this suds-slinging enterprise--that is, until I glance into the rearview mirror and see the woman heading toward our just washed car. Heureusement,* we didn't have to wag glossy fingernails or flip on the essuie-glace* to escape the deluge. It was the feu vert* that saved us.

*References: un quatre-quatre (m) = a four wheel drive vehicle; un(e) gitan(e) = a gypsy; une pause sieste (f) = a nap break; la Côte d'Azur ("the Blue Coast") = the French Riviera; heureusement = fortunately, happily; un essuie-glace (m) = a windshield wiper; un feu vert = a green light

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