le béton

    Les Millesimes wine shop in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (c) Kristin Espinassse



noun, masculine


My son has mentioned wanting to be a baker or a construction worker when he grows up, but I suspect his talent might lie in styling.

For the past year Max has been working hard at perfecting what I call the gentleman's Mohawk: "gentleman's," for the understated height of the hair, so subtle you could almost get away with it at the office or at school... if your mom weren't waiting by the front door each morning with the flat side of her hand ready to "mow" down your "hawk".

"It's called une crête," Max corrects me, "...une crête iroquoise!"
"OK, Max. But you aren't allowed to wear your hair like that to school. It isn't polite."

But wear his hair like that at home he does, so much so that he is running out of gel again.
"Papa," Max asks during the drive to school, "the next time you go to the supermarket can you get me the 'gel fixation béton'?"

I can't help but laugh at what he has just requested: "concrete binding gel."

"Even if you spin on your head," Max insists, "your hair won't move—not one millimeter! My friend Lucas has the concrete gel and the last time he fell on his head rien a bougé! Not one hair went out of place!"

Recently I came across une pub for the gel my son requested. The ad suggests that with the help of this product, "les cheveux sont durs comme du béton!"

"Hard as concrete?..." I am reminded of Max's other when-I-grow-up wish: to work in masonry. Concrete...construction... Yes! I am finally seeing the subconscious connection! OK, in that case our son will need to rule out baking... or take the risk that his pâtisseries have the lightness or the flakiness of a cinder block!


French Vocabulary

une crête
 = comb, crest
une crête iroquoise = Mohawk (hair)
Papa = Dad
rien a bougé = nothing moved
la pub (publicité) = advertisement
les cheveux sont durs comme du béton = the hair is as hard as concrete
la pâtisserie = cake 

Your Edits, Please!
Do you see any typos in this story? Is the episode clear and understandable? Thanks for your feedback and suggestions here, in the comments box!



Citation du Jour:
L'oeuvre d'art naît du renoncement de l'intelligence à raisonner le concret.
The work of art is born of the intelligence's refusal to reason the concrete
                                                                                  --Albert Camus

Listen: hear the word béton pronounced: Download beton.wav

Terms and expressions:
laisse béton! = forget it!
bétonner (verb) = to consolidate; to build using concrete
le bétonnage = defensive play (football)
la bétonneuse = cement mixer

More on Max's travails with the tube (of gel) in the book Words in a French Life.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety