bouder (boo-day) verb
1. to pout or sulk
la bouderie (f) = sulkiness, (fit of the) sulks
un boudoir = a ladyfinger (finger-shaped cookie, cake)
bouder quelqu'un = to refuse to have anything to do with someone
avoir des succès de boudoir = to be successful with women
La bouderie en amour est comme le sel ; il n'en faut pas trop.
Sulkiness in love is like salt; you mustn't have too much.
A Day in a French Life...
"Do you want me to take the kids to school?" I say, sure that my husband will drive them, seeing he is almost finished shaving.
"Si tu peux le faire, ce sera bien. If you can do it, that would be good."
Somewhere between seeing his mousse-covered chin and hearing his request, it occurs to me that he is going somewhere.
"Ou tu vas? Where are you going?"
"In St. Raphael."
My mind fills with visions of the foamy sea, sandy beaches, beachfront cafés and brasseries, the boardwalk, the marché, the glamorous Belle Epoque architecture... when suddenly a pulsion* overcomes me. The pulsion to pout.
"I didn't know you were going prospecting today..." I say.
"Well, do you want to come with me?" Jean-Marc offers.
"I can't come with you. I have work to do!"
"That's what I thought," my husband replies.
I abruptly leave the bathroom; in my wake, a piercing silence.
In 1994 the only conseil* Jean-Marc's ailing grandmother gave us before we married was to "ne pas bouder -- to not pout." I had to look up the word just as soon as I returned from her modest apartment in Lyon to our studio in Marseilles, not quite sure I wanted to ask my husband-to-be what it meant.
"Germaine," as she was called, was a tough woman who saw the collapse of a family fortune. In Morocco, after the war, she peddled house linens from her Estafette (a converted military supply vehicle) to support four children. When her husband, a prisoner of war, returned from la guerre,* Germaine continued to "wear the pants," selling her linens door-to-door, while her husband went seaside to cast out horrific war images along with his fishing line.
Our first encounter had me watching the once-authoritarian-now-frail woman eat the eyes right out of the fish on the plate before her. Apart from her advice to "not sulk" she taught me where all those forks, knives and spoons belong on the French table, at once thoughtful about her bourgeoisie upbringing, and méprisante* of it.
From "bouder" comes the noun "boudoir," which originally meant "a place to sulk in." Though the dictionary says that a boudoir is "un petit salon de dame"* -- it is really nothing more fancy or exciting than a pouting room.
I return to my sulking place, and continue to work and sniff.
"We'll leave in 10 minutes?" my husband says, popping his head in from the hall.
"I didn't say I was going."
"Well, if you change your mind, know that I am leaving in ten minutes."
I continue to "faire la tête" or "be in the sulks" while Jean-Marc prepares for his surely glamorous tor-nay* along the French Riviera.
Pecking at my faded keyboard, staring into the hospital-room-white screen above it, I obsess about my husband's freedom with an enthusiasm reserved for a sour, steam iron-yielding housewife:
"Mr. Espinasse goes to the sunny Riviera. Mr. Espinasse has a rendez-vous. Shall I take your coat, sir? Mr. Espinasse would like the plat du jour. Would Mr. Espinasse like champagne with his foie gras?"
My boo-fest is short-lived and I know that, in reality, my husband is lugging 18-kilo boxes of wine from one cave* to another, navigating medieval one-way roads trying to find parking in an obscure French village, weaving in and out of traffic, struggling to get to the basketball court in time to pick up our son at the end of the day. I know that for lunch he will probably stop at a grimy roadside service-station and pick up one of those preservative-rich salmon (salmonella?) sandwiches and a bitter cup of instant coffee.
Meanwhile I will be lugging words from brain to key board. To my left, a café-au-lait. Before me, the adventure of my choice, if I will but find the words to transport me there.
"Do you know what the word 'boudoir' means?" I say, out of breath, catching up to my husband who is loading cases of wine into the Citroën.
"Comment? What's that?"
"Boo-dwaar. It's French."
"No. I don't know that word. What does it mean?" he says, opening the car door for me.
"Nothing much," I say, springing into the car and fastening my seatbelt.
Boudoir: a noun better used to represent sunshine-yellow, dainty sponge cakes,* than dark, fleeting moods. Bouder, a verb to flee, whether by hopping into your husband's Citroën, or by taking a similar break from the train-train* of daily life.
Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."
References: une pulsion (f) = an impulse; un conseil (m) = a piece of advice; la guerre (f) = war; méprisante = contemptuous, scornful; un petit salon de dame (m) = a woman's sitting room; tor-nay (pronunciation for tournée (f) = a sales round); une cave (f) = cellar; a miniature oval sponge cake in French is also a "boudoir"; le train-train (m) = routine
Boudoir, the fluffy cake, is also known as a Ladyfinger. Don't miss this book, with many more food expressions:
A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens