Friday, April 01, 2005
Les toits / Rooftops
Overheard in the car on the way to school this morning:
"Eh, Jackie--attention à ton dos aujourd'hui!"
(Hey, Jackie--watch your back today!)
I don't think 9-year-old Max needs to worry about his little sister. Jackie got up early to cut out and color her paper fish... now all she needs is a kilometer of tape and she can "pin" fish until her thumb begins to pulse.
Watch your back today, lest you be the target of this old French practical joke in which the joker tapes a paper fish to your back and shouts "Poisson d'avril!" (April Fool!) when the jig is up!
le toit (twa) noun, masculine
habiter sous les toits = to live in an attic flat
le toit du monde = the roof of the world
avoir un toit = to have a roof over one's head
chercher un toit = to look for a place to live
vivre sous le même toit = to live under the same roof
Un compromis fait un bon parapluie, mais un mauvais toit.
Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a bad roof. --Robert Lowell
A Day in a French Life...
(A true story about a former neighbor in a former village. Our home was attached to the same row of homes as his--and it's a good thing we weren't sharing roofs... read on and find out why.)
* * *
What do you do when you are a good-looking, but dirt poor sculptor whose roof tiles are crumbling?
You wait until the Provence sky turns black and the diamond specks begin to pop into view, one by one across the now glittering ciel.* When the campanile* strikes two, you ease open your chipped, on-their-last-limb shutters, slip out from your third floor window, hoist your firm fesses* up to your dilapidated roof...
...inch over to the roof of le voisin* and, one by one, lift his roof tiles, returning chez vous,* to replace, one by one, your own broken tiles with those of your neighbor!
Only your neighbor, the aging Italian immigrant and sometime insomniac, does not fall like flies (as all the village women do) before your physique--and he is not charmed senseless by your sweet talk. He wants his roof tiles back--tout de suite -- or he's sending les flics! And they won't drop like flies before your good looks. But your roof tiles will. Oh, your roof tiles will!
*References: le ciel (m) = sky; le campanile (m) = bell-tower; la fesse (f) = buttock (les fesses = buttocks, bottom); le voisin (m) = neighbor; chez vous = your place (your home); tout de suite! = pronto; le flic (m) = cop, policeman
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