Minus Cancer: my mom (in 2003)--post-op and playing the game of life again. (That's her, arms in the air, ever in praise, in the second to the last lane where her grandson, Max races beside her and into the shallow piscine in the town of St. Maxime).
la piscine (pee-seen) noun, feminine
(slang) the French secret service
En amour, il y a un temps pour plonger, mais il faut attendre que la piscine se remplisse si l'on ne veut pas plonger dans un bain de pieds. As for love, there is a time in which to plunge, but one must wait until the pool fills up unless one wants to jump into a footbath. --Fanny Ardant
"Il est là, Max?" Is Max home? Three skinny boys in floral print shorts want to know. I step out onto the front porch to greet the passers-by. When I answer that my son is away, the boys waver like a trio of balloons the day after a birthday party.
"Did you want to know if the pool is working today?" I ask, on a hunch. The balloons perk up, heads nodding enthusiastically. And then the pinprick:
"No. It is even greener than last week," I answer, breaking the bad news. "A real swamp!"
Pop! I listen to the sound of hope bursting. The boys sigh, deflated, and I can almost hear them wondering what is so bad about a pond-like piscine* when water is water: be it blue, green, cloudy, or clear.
The hot afternoon drags on, minus a splash in a swampy pool, and the boys are just bored enough to forget their former bashful selves. The speaker of the group, an eleven-year-old from Tunisia (who learned French only two years ago but now speaks Proust's language better than the swamp lady...) breaks the silence.
"You are anglaise?"*
"No, American," the swamp lady responds.
"Why do you live here when you could live in America?" Proust questions while another boy, who sports a gold loop earring, nods, and the third boy, a head shorter than the two, stutters "Pourquoi? Pourquoi?"
"Because I like France!" I admit.
The boys look at each other as if I have said "ants" instead of "France."
"But America is better!" Proust argues.
"Do you know any stars?" the boys inquire, hopeful looks spreading across their faces.
I wasn't sure. Did that time I saw Dick Van Dyke, albeit way, way across the parking lot and standing on the roof of a strip mall, count? Come to think of it, what was Dick Van Dyke doing up on top of the mall? Was it an outdoor presentation of Fiddler on the Roof? Was that even Dick Van Dyke? Sometimes childhood memories are as surreal as dreams.
"Do you know 50 Cent?" the swim-trunked trio asks, nods, and stutters impatiently.
"Snoop Dogg?" Proust inquires. The boy with the gold earring nods and the littlest boy repeats "Snoop Dogg? Snoop Dogg?"
"Uh, no..." I didn't know the famous American rappers. I knew only of their run-ins.
"Well, it's hot in France!" Proust says, determined to prove his point: that France is so uncool it might as well be hell.
"It's hot where I come from too," I offer, so that the boys don't feel so bad.
"But everybody has a piscine in America!" Proust replies, exasperated.
Well...That's not true! But who am I to go bursting their bubble about l'Amérique*--where the grass is undoubtedly greener and probably doesn't even grow in your pool (as it seems to at the swamp lady's...).
References: la piscine (f) = pool; l'anglaise (l'anglais) = Englishwoman (Englishman); l'Amérique (f) = America
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and recite the quote: Download piscine.wav
En amour, il y a un temps pour plonger, mais il faut attendre que la piscine se remplisse si l'on ne veut pas plonger dans un bain de pieds.
Terms & Expressions:
faire des longueurs de piscine = to do laps in a pool
se baigner dans une piscine = to swim in a pool
une piscine à vagues = a wave pool
une piscine en plein air = an outdoor pool
In bilingual books: "The Astonished Universe," by Helene Cardona: "a tour de force of language and phonetics." --Joanne Harris, best selling author of Chocolat.
Le Pere Pelletier Lavender syrup 8 oz glass old fashioned bottle
Rosetta Stone French -- where graphical speech recognition displays your voiceprint and compares it to native speaker to help improve pronunciation
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