la goutte

la honte!


Photo: Nothing to do with today's word... just a slice of country life as it looked here at the farm one week ago.

la honte! (lah ohnt)

    = how embarrassing!

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics bestseller on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly! (click here)



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

"Why is it We Do The Very Thing We Set Out Not To Do?"

(In a parking lot, somewhere in a busy industrial zone...) My daughter and I are walking arm in arm, following the shade that our bodies make. We swerve to the left, to the right, let our heads fall together, and then to the side. The dark figure on the sidewalk contorts, following our every move and it is our delight to throw out another command or two. What a thrill it is to be in control, finally, to watch our image do what we tell it to!

Earlier, when we arrived at the shopping center for a beauty consultation, Jackie repeated her request:"S'il te plaît, Maman... Please, Mom, do not tell the saleswoman, 'My daughter does not need to wear le maquillage'!"

I quickly translated her plea: by informing the saleswoman that my daughter did not need makeup, I would be announcing: "She's too pretty for the stuff!" And such a remark would be "la honte" to my daughter.

Compte sur moi! I promised. Even though I feel my daughter does not need makeup, I knew it would be a surprise and a treat to offer her a cosmetics lesson. (After her essay on maquillage, we received many thoughtful responses and tips, one of which was the suggestion to have a makeup consultation.)

Fastoche! I thought. I'd worked in a department store and I'd witnessed the girls at the makeup counter offer customers free lessons. I figured that after Jackie's lesson, we would purchase the fond de teint that she had been asking for (to camouflage les boutons, she explained).

With this plan, I led my daughter into the makeup boutique. After I inquired about a makeup lesson, the woman behind the counter consulted her cahier.
"Voyons... la leçon de maquillage... çela coute 25 euros." 

"Vingt-cinq euros? Does this include a gift with purchase?" (I was hoping it might cover the cost of the fond de teint that we were in the market for...)
The woman shook her carefully coiffed head, Non.

Wondering what to do, I translated the figure into US dollars: $36! What if we purchased something?...

The saleswoman confirmed: "With a purchase of three items, we can offer you the makeup lesson." With that Jackie and I hurried over to the makeup display case, but the first item my daughter saw (lip gloss) was 32 euros ($40)! With this "three item" scheme, the lesson would end up costing nearly $100!

I tried to negotiate with the saleswoman. "You see... she's only thirteen..." I pointed out, looking over at my daughter, who was showing the first signs of la honte

There, I'd done it! I might as well have said "she doesn't need to wear makeup!"

Strangely, instead of taking the clue that I'd gone and done the very thing I'd promised not to--I chose this moment to give my daughter a lesson in consumer relations... 

"Don't be embarrassed, Sweetie. It's normal to talk about the price for something!" I said to my daughter, looking over at the saleswoman for confirmation. Only, the saleswoman stared blankly back at me.

I ignored the whispering beside me, "Maman.... Maman!

The saleswoman's reaction only fueled my determination for a winning outcome (couldn't, after all, this be a gagnant-gagnant, or win-win situation? As it was, the boutique had no other clients. Was it too much to ask for a makeup demonstration? The two saleswomen were standing around and it might also be the chance for them to practice the métier....)  

I tried reasoning: "It's just that... instead of buying grocery-store makeup I had the idea that I would treat my daughter to..."

But any fanciful ideas were immediately cut short when my daughter began poking me, determinedly.

"Jackie!" I admonished the arm-poker. After a few more bumbling lines, the irony of it all occurred to me: this great effort at economy was, in the end, at my daughter's expense!

Like that, we sklunked out of the makeup boutique, one of us feeling like a has-been, the other feeling like Honte personified.


Half an hour later I study the thick shadow ahead of me, watching as it glides forward, at ease. We turn our heads right, then left... Arm in arm my daughter and I march forward, laughing now and again at the funny contorted figure on the pavement. 

"I'm so sorry for embarrassing you!" I repeat to my daughter, who shakes the sack in her hand in response. "It's okay. This is just fine!" I had wanted to buy her a step-up from the grocery-store makeup....

With that we head to the car, swerving from side to side, our shadow following along, in real time. I shook my head at my "step up" makeup plan. All that really matters, in the end, is that we are in step with each other.

Le Coin Commentaires
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French Vocabulary

s'il te plaît, Maman = please, Mom

le maquillage = makeup

compte sur moi! = count on me!

fastoche! = nothin' to it!

le fond de teint = makeup base, foundation

les boutons (m) = pimples

la leçon de maquillage... çela coute 25 euros = the makeup leçon... that costs 25 euros

Maman! Maman! = Mom! Mom!

la honte = shame

Forget about the weeds. Rest easy. Smokey and I. (Photo by Chief Grape)

51Qckm1DSfL._SL500_AA280_ I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.


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angela billows

I remember reading a beauty editorial in an English magazine which said that French cosmetic companies never need to do give aways as the French women need no incentives to spend on their 'regime de beauté' (I just made that up I hope it makes sense) Go to London, you can get a free make over at any make up counter, I often do if I'm in town and want to put a spot of make-up on before going for a meeting and you can usually get a handful of samples into the bargain! No harm in asking, these companies want their products tried and tested!


I agree with Angela - same thing is true for many stores in Germany I've been to - of course there are exceptions, but generally if you go to the cosmetics section and want to test a make-up there are free samples readily available. And although your lovely daughter will certainly not be in need of any beauty-enhancing cosmetics - if these will make her FEEL more beautiful inside, you certainly did the right thing!!!

Bill in St. Paul

A well-told experience - I was feeling Jackie's embarrassment reading the story! I don't remember a similar experience with my daughter, but being the father there's a lot of things that I was not privy to.

It looks like Smokey is saying to us "She's got a nice cushion to lie on and I get to sit on rocks - can you do something about this?"

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

I'm glad to see you relaxing on the chaise. It's exhausting being a good mom.

You know, I never had a makeup lesson and consequently I never apply it correctly when I wear it. My 18 year old started out like Jackie - using it a lot, using too much, etc.. Now she has it down to perfection and I am in awe of her proficiency. Still I don't think she needs any of it. But how else would a mother feel when she wants the world to see through all of the wrapping, the make-up & clothes, and look into the beautiful soul of the child we love.

Leslie in Massachusetts

Hi, Kristin This makes me very annoyed on your behalf. How ungenerous! Here in the US the ubiquitous and (I think French) high-end cosmetics chain Sephora does free lessons, but of course you end up spending a fortune on all the things you try. En tout cas, they should have offered some kind of a discount or deal to a lovely mother and teenaged daughter like you two. Another word of the day for today's story could be "radin" - stingy.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I so enjoyed this story because it is about so much more than make-up. It is about the underlying solid relationship between you and Jackie. She'll get her make-up consultation one day and for now the two of you are still on good terms.

Jules Greer

Hi Kristi,

You are on the right track - so happy you took your little fledgling (is that the word) out for a little touch and go (my old pilot's term) when I was testing my wings at Scottsdale Air Park. Don't they have magazines like 'Seventeen' - I think that was the magazine for teenagers back in the 70's. Oh my, I guess I am really a Grandma....

I can't wait to give Jackie lessons when I arrive.

I loved your post Kristi, almost all of the mom's can identify with this lovely story.



Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for your reactions and thoughts. As we walked back to the car, Jackie had three items in her shopping bag: a liquid foundation, a blush, and a lipgloss. Though the "grocery store" make-up cost a fraction of the boutique make-up, Jackie applied it with expertise. She looked so pretty!

When I went to check the labels on the bottles (for this comment) I noticed the makeup had disappeared. That little turkey had snuck it into her backpack and taken it to school! (She's still not 100 percent allowed to wear to junior high, according to Chief Grape!)

P.S.: Hi, Mom. Just saw your comment. XOXO and Thanks!

Judy nelson

I don't have a daughter, although has a teaching experience with my son when we went to buy his first car. He was mortified to see his single mom walk out on the car sale man when it became clear I was being manipulated. In the end, he understood, and was a life-long lesson. I did, however, teach briefly at a modeling school, designed to give young gangly and clueless girls the confidence and knowledge they needed to know what to say, how to walk and get out of a car properly, and to apply makeup in an appropriate and tasteful manner. I was gratified to see the transformation of the young women who now had a sense of confidence knowing how they should look and act. Young women need this guidance, and it was good of you to give her this gift. I think you meant "skulked" instead of "sklunked"? It definitely conveys the familiar feeling of mortifying a child with a lesson I. Real life. I spend a great dealnof time in Paris, and all the cosmetic stores. As others have indicated, they do not feel the need to give products away. They have less of a marketing mentality than the US and GB.


Requiring a purchase of ONE item is reasonable. But three? And $36 for a makeup lesson is ridiculous.

I used to pay $50+ for foundation. Then I googled and read customer reviews of drugstore-bought foundation. I now pay $12 for foundation, and since the product looks and feels exactly the same as the expensive foundation, my guess is they are both made in the same factory in China.


Daughters are the most wonderful of all blessings--nothing is better than being in step. Have a wonderful week. Mary


I don't wear much makeup but what I do wear is purchased at the drugstore. Department store cosmetics are ridiculously expensive.
Great idea for Jules to give makeup advice. It will be a fun experience for Jackie and her grandmother.

Barbara Andolsek Paintings

I'm sure you have access to YouTube there. Tons of demos for any kind of make-up lessons you can think of (some are scary, lol). They are all FREE.

Often times they are also 'sponsored' by a company such as Dinair (make-up that is airbrushed on and very natural). I mean if you're going to have to spend that kind of money for a demo, why not better invest it in the product and play with it in the privacy of your own home. I'm attaching a link to a tutorial by the company Dinair. This is only suggestion as it seems she will more than likely keep pursuing the 'how to'...

Hope the following link helps.


I remember embarassing my youngest son when he was just a little younger than Jackie. I dropped him off at school and went to give him a quick kiss goodbye. Well, he said, "Mom! I've got a rep to protect." :-) Now, he's in his 30's and doesn't mind giving Mom a kiss in public.


Lisa A., CA

What a wonderful story for Mother's Day week!! I thoroughly enjoy this story. :)
I would have loved to have seen the store clerk's face when you were asking her for a deal...and she replied, "non". hehehe


Merci for a look at a part of French family life that most of us will never see.

Marianne Rankin

I'm glad that Jackie was able to apply her makeup "expertly," so that she looked pretty, even though she doesn't really need makeup. Good for you, not caving into buying outrageously priced products. I wear very little, but do use moisturizers, and they are pricey enough.

These anecdotes, and life in general, again remind me of how (still) there are double standards for males and females. Women are supposed to do makeup, and work out (how many fitness videos are for men? Almost none.) Older women are rare in movies. I could go on. I've never been a feminist - indeed, am quite traditional in most respects - but I can't fail to notice how so many issues simply don't exist for guys (I have a son and no daughter). The clothes are easier, the makeup nonexistent, the hair no big deal, etc. etc. True, older boys don't like affection from Mom in public, or sometimes much of any comments besides the weather, and they never want any kind of "scene," but all in all, the girl stuff is more complicated.

Bill in St. Paul, I don't think Smokey is on rocks. To me, it looks like mulch.

Merrie Dail

Had to chuckle. If I had nickel for the times I had unwittingly embarrassed my children, I might be a wealthy woman today... Maybe not, but cutting daughter's hair when she was about Jacqui's age - a bit too short it seemed - definitely la honte! These days she wears a pixie for ease of care while working and completing her Master's degree and it of course is chic. Laughter is a good thing.

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut tout le monde,

With my primitive French, I have a question on today’s word. Since there is a vowel and the letter “h”’, shouldn’t we be using “l’honte” of “la honte”?

À bientôt

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Oops! Should read “l’honte” instead of “la honte”?


Ah..and you may have been lucky! I have seen too many of those "demonstrations" where the subject ended up looking like an over-painted doll! "Less is more"..but does not sell as many products, perhaps!
YOU always look wonderful..Why not set up a beauty shop counter at home and have some fun together with a make-up lesson?

Jill in Sydney

When my daughter was Jackie's age, she and I used to experiment with make up for fun. Then at 14 and 15 I was called on to help when she was going out on special occasions. Now the teacher is the taught! Alice can always be relied on to tell me if my colours don't match, or if there is a blob or a smudge. She has become my fashion guru! And needless to say she is gorgeous with or without makeup. but more than that she is a beautiful person - just like your Jackie. Enjoy sharing these fun years - as much as you're allowed to!

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Sweet, smart, entertaining story! A great choice to kick off the week before Mother's Day! I hope this week provides you ample occasions to be in step and rest easy! xoxo

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Cute post today. It brings back memories of my daughter Tara when she first started wearing make-up. I do remember Seventeen Magazine Jules! Tara received it in the mail during her high school years. I used to read Cosmopolitan and I really don't think my mom knew that it contained so many racy articles.
You look so relaxed in the chaise Kristin!
Have a great week everyone!

Jeff Cwiok

Herm - La honte is correct as this word begins with an h aspiré, which deliberately leaves a space between the noun and the article to prevent confusing sound alikes. When in doubt consult a dictionnaire; the pronunciation will have a apostophe before it. Looks like about half of all H words are aspirated!


Wait until she asks for a pair of high heels. We have to let our kids grow up even though you may think she's still not out of the nursery. Have Jules or one of your friends send lots of Avon and have a make-up/slumber party (have a camera and be prepared to laugh and have a great time). Nothing like a good hen party to get dad out of the house.

Miami refractive surgery

When they are young, kids feel embarrassed to be kissed and cuddle in public, and their friends will mock of him, but when they grow up things are different, is totally opposite. It's strange how life can change and our mentality and perception is different in time.

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Jeff - Thanks for h aspiré input.

Fred Caswell

Tu es encore tres jolie! Peace

Marianne Rankin

Yes, Jeff is correct. When I was in France, I learned that "haricot" has an H aspire. The port Le Havre is another. I believe "la hache" (axe) is aspire; I'm not sure about la hanche (hip). I'm fairly certain that "hauts-parleurs" (loudspeakers) are also aspirated. I'm wondering if Jeff or Newforest or Kristin or someone can provide a list of common words with H aspire.


First of all, you're a sleeping beauty in the photo, Kristin. Also, I envy your relationship with your beautiful daughter, it is so charming.
I told you before that I like almost everything frenchy except the French bureaucracy, tout en pensant au jour où j'ai dû obetenir ma carte de séjour. I also do not like the...French sales people. I don't know why they have to be rude. I was at a shoes store near the Louvres, once upon a time. While I was looking at the shoes display, one sales girl came up, asking what I wanted. I politely thanked her, adding that I was still looking. Right away, she had to say "C'est pas le Louvres ici"!!!! With that attitude, I left the store instead of deciding on what to buy.
Et pour Jackie, dis-lui de ma part qu'elle est belle sans maquillage.
Bonne soirée à toute la famille.


Two days after reading this post the first time, I ran across "la honte" while reading something en français. I just love it when les mots that you teach us get reinforced elsewhere! And so quickly, too! You teach through memorable stories in such a way that we remember what you have taught us. Merci!


Have been off line for a week!!! Just getting caught up now. As always, another charming story and so well told. Thank you for sharing. But what has happened to the music? I use to always click that on first and then read. Is is gone forever?

Jeff Cwiok

"I'm wondering if Jeff or Newforest or Kristin or someone can provide a list of common words with H aspire."
Marianne, that list is rather long so I'll point to a list already compiled online. Try;

Jacqueline Gill

Your post about "Jackie and the Makeup" is really more about a loving mom and her daughter. My daughter and I had a similar experience. Jackie has lots of years to work her way to high-end make up, and your experience was a valuable one she will not forget. We won't even mention (yes we will) that she is drop dead beautiful like her mother and grandmom and just a drop of the grocery store stuff will suffice. Happiest Mothers' Day!

Marianne Rankin

Jeff, thanks for the list. I appreciate it.

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