Plage des Estagnets and the French words dorloter, bichonner, pouponner, and gâter, chipie, grincement

Giens, France and the words mauvais perdant, fiston, allez, chiche!, poignée, tas, and deranger in French

My fourteen-year-old fiston* on the beach in Giens. He's eating "un sandwich baguette". Learn about another kind of baguette (en bois*), in today's story column.

mauvais perdant (moh-vay pair-dahn)

    : sore loser

(feminine: une mauvaise perdante [moh-vayz pair-dahnt)

Audio File & Example Sentence:
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the following French words:
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Battu, il fut aussi mauvais perdant que ses adversaires étaient de piètres gagnants.
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A Day in a French Life...

by Kristin Espinasse

It is half-past seven in the evening. My stomach is rumbling, my head is a basket of butterflies, and I am wondering about what to cook for dinner... when my son walks into the room.

"On joue?"* Max offers.

A fun French mom might respond "Allez, chiche!"*; instead, a famished mom's eyes drop to the wooden box in her son's hands. Oh, no. C'est un jeu d'adresse*. I do not feel up to a game of skill, given these pre-dinner jitters and this fluttering brain.

That my son seems to find me a worthy opponent has me re-prioritizing. Hunger will have to hang on.

I look at the rectangular box of sticks and wonder what the rules are and will they be complicated? The name* on the box looks Japanese. So much for instructions! My stomach rumbles and my head spins.

"These colored bands," Max explains, pointing to the painted sticks, or baguettes, "correspond to the Samouraï bâton* and are worth ten points, and this one, un Mandarin, is worth 5...."

Oh no--points!--and more foreign terms... "Okay, okay. J'ai compris. Allons-y!"*

I have never liked games, ever since my Bridge*-busting, card-slinging grandmother-on-the-rocks called me a mauvaise perdante.* "Don't be such a poor sport!" She'd complain, under gin and tonic breath. The satisfaction on her face from winning another round of Go Fish, Slapjack, or, appropriately, Old Maid, was hard to miss. I gave up cards and signed up for a real sport: Little League Baseball. Cleats replaced cards, as I became pitcher for the Yankees, outfield for the A's -- and, oh! -- if those weren't the good ol' winning days!

"So, what do we do next?" I ask Max.  I sit on the floor, facing my opponent, legs tucked into a "pretzel" as I watch my son drop une poignée* of sticks. Dozens of spaghetti-thin batons fall to the floor in one chaotic heap.

Max explains the simple rules: "Tu dois déplacer une de ces baguettes sans déranger les autres."*

I stare at the tangled tas.* Every stick seems "stuck" to another. I am to pick up one of these sticks without disturbing the others?

"But that's impossible!" I point out, and my stomach growls in accord. "It's late. Why don't we eat dinner first?" Seeing the disappointed look on my son's face, it occurs to me that hunger will have to hang on, and on... just like those baguettes -- all three or four dozen of them.

"Just how does one pick up a stick without disturbing another?"

"With patience," Max encourages.

And I, the impatient outfielder am awestruck -- by a young Frenchman who runs circles around me, philosophically, having hit another balle of wisdom out of the ball park. And he didn't even have to change sports, as others have tried, in order to find his stride.


*     *     *
"Oh, I guess that one moved..." I say, sad to have to give up the newly-seized stick in my hand.
"I didn't see anything..." Max assures.
"The sticks didn't move?"
"Like I said, I didn't see a thing...."
"Oh... thanks. Thanks, Max!"

(Like that, I managed to pick-up 18 sticks. Max picked up almost double that, sans déranger le tas.)

*     *     *

Comment, send a correction--or share your own story here. Merci beaucoup!

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary & References~~~~~~~~

le fiston (m) = son; en bois = in wood; on joue? = shall we play; allez, chiche! = Alright (Let's go), I'm game!; c'est un jeu d'adresse = it's a game of skill; name (of game) = (Max and I were playing "Mikado"); le bâton (m) = stick; J'ai compris. Allons-y = I've understood. Let's get going!; Bridge = the card game (also called "Bridge" in French => jouer au bridge = to play bridge); une mauvaise perdante = a sore loser; une poignée (f) = a fistful; Tu dois déplacer un de ces baguettes sans déranger les autres = you must move one of these sticks without upsetting the others; un tas (m) = heap, pile; la balle (f) = ball; sans déranger le tas = without upsetting the heap

Quote reference: Le Bulletin Des Recherches Historiques
 By Société des études historiques (Québec, Québec), Archives du Québec

New! Three Random Words:
un chasseur de têtes
(m) = headhunter
un ramasse-crottes
(m) = pooper-scooper
faisable (adj) = doable

Add your own "Three Random Words" here.


Happy dog in the seaside town of Giens, near Hyérès.

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