pièces jaunes


Jean-Marc, Kristin, and Jackie in 2009
Photo of Embarrassing Parents.... or "Embracing Parents" depending on your point de vue. (Pictured: Jean-Marc, Kristin, and Jackie)

malentendu (ma-lahn-tahn-dew) noun, masculine
1. misunderstanding

faire cesser un malentendu = to clear up a misunderstanding

L'oreille distraite est l'organe du malentendu.
The distracted ear is the organ of misunderstanding.
 --Albert Brie

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Recently, the kids and I were invited to my husband's office for a "Welcome the New Employee" apéritif. The three of us Q-tipped our ears and shined our shoes in hopes of looking our best before heading over to Jean-Marc's new office to hear him speak.

After the apéro, a few of the employees, along with the director and company's founder, decided to dine at a nearby eatery. When we were invited to join them, I signaled sharply to the kids, reminding us all to keep our act together. 

At the reception desk, we waited patiently for our table. To pass the time, the men smoked clopes, the children  played a game of pool, and I maintained my new role of Delightful Wife. 

Our act was running smoothly when one of us began rocking from foot to foot. No matter how hard I tried I could not hold it any longer and so tottered over to the reception desk to ask a pertinent question:

"Where is the 'vaysay' please?" I posed my question in French, trying hard to prounounce the unusual word for "restroom".

"Vaysay?" the receptionist questioned. Confused, she turned to her colleague, who tried to translate.

"I think she's asking for un whiskey." 

Shocked as much by the misunderstanding, as by the indelicate manner in which the women spoke about me (as if I was invisible!), I shot a casual look over my shoulder, to assess any damage to our family's carefully put together first impression. What a relief to find the director and the boss carrying on as if they hadn't heard a thing.

I returned my attention to the women behind the desk. 
"No! Vay-say. I would like....un toilet!" I whispered, hoping to shush them up, but it was too late. 

"Madame wants a whiskey!" the receptionist shouted, this time to the maître d, who stood across he room at the bar.

It took a few flailing arms to get the point across, at which point the maître d personally escorted me to the restroom. So much for slipping out unnoticed. I hadn't meant to make a scene but isn't that what happens when you put on an act?

French Vocabulary
une clope
= a cigarette
Où sont les 'vay say,' s'il vous plait? = Where are the toilets? ('vay say' is from "doo-ble-vay-say"--the pronunciation for "W.C." [water-closet])
un apéro  = short for "aperitif," or drink. Apéritif also refers to a cocktail party
maître d = le maître d'hôtel = headwaiter 


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(last Christmas, 2009) Me and my dad

DSC_0072 Joyeux Anniversaire!... to my dear dad, who encouraged me to follow my heart to France. And happy birthday to Marsha, left, his beautiful bride of 16 years. 
And happy happy b-day to my littlest sister, or soeur cadette Kelley. I stole this picture from her:

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