"The Boy I was. The Man I'm Becoming". Our 16-year-old, Max.

le pantalon (pahn tah lown)

    : (pair of) pants, trousers

le pantalon de costume = dress pants
le pantalon à pinces = pleated pants
le pantalon battle = cargo pants
le pantalon cigarette = straight-leg pants
le pantalon 5 poches = 5 pocket 

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

"Plants in My Pants"

It is especially quiet in my office when a sudden bruit has me practically leaping out of my chair. What was that?! My mind quickly replays the sound... a ripping? ...a scratching (like the opening of a velcro wallet)? Then again, I wonder if what I've heard... is the sound of seams splitting.

I study the pants that I am wearing: hand-me-downs from my son. I'd bought Max the handsome pin-stripped pantalons to wear to a family wedding last year. They were a little pricey, or chérot... so I had my doubts about buying them for a growing boy (one who'd just turned 15). Only, standing there, outside the dressing room, admiring the young man in the mirror in front of us, I was spellbound. How dashing he looked in the dress pants and the tailored, wide-cuffed chemise!

Max didn't seem to recognize himself... only after a little strutting back and forth did his movements match up with those of the confident stranger in the mirror. "Mom, please," Max pleaded. "I've got to have these!"

"Alright," I answered, adding one stipulation, "Just don't grow out of them too quickly! Promise?"

(Max a juré....)


Sometime last week, Max broke his oath--having grown several sneaky centimeters in the last three seasons! I knew I had to put the pants into the giveaway pile.... a reality that gnawed at me (he'd only wore the pants once! You could still see the stringy fibers from the price tag!).

A light went off in my head: maybe I could be the lucky pants-recipient? I pulled off my gypsy skirt and stepped into the pantalons....

The pants fit! Next I knew I was mimicking my son, strutting back-n-forth before le miroir. Could I? Could I wear them?! I wondered. There appeared to be only one problem: that little "flooding" action around my ankles. Though I tried to deny it--pulling the pants down low on my hips--the pant legs were un cran too short....

And then I had another revelation! Reaching down I rolled up the pant legs. Voilà! I could wear the pantalons as capris!...

...and I have done just that, for days now, as one wears a uniform. Everything was going smoothly until, one evening, while working at my computer I heard that troubling sound... Yes, the sound of seams... seams splitting!

I leaped out of my chair and searched my pants for any accidental openings.... When no rips or splits were to be found. I breathed a sigh of relief, a little prematurely....

Just then, it happened again: ccccccrrrrriiiikkkkkk!

Instantly my hands flew back, to the seat of my pants. I felt along the vertical seam. My neck strained as I tried to see over my shoulders... The stitches seemed to be intact. But no sooner had I reassured myself than CRRRRIIIIICKKKK!

This time my hands landed on my front pockets, where the smooth surface was found to be bumpy. Now what?!...

My hands plunged, automatically into my pockets and that is when I discovered the source of all my souci: SEEDS!

I remembered back to the walk I'd taken earlier that evening, through the vineyard and out to the wild garrigue. My friend Toni had helped me collect seeds from the dried branches of the broom bushes, their licorice-scented yellow flowers now shriveled and feeding the earth beneath us. I'd stored the dried, closed pods in my front pocket for safekeeping....

...And now, hours later, those seed pods were springing open! Pop! pop! pop! P-p-p-p-p-POP!

I looked into the palms of my hands at the open shells and the liberated seeds--and shook my head, appreciatively. I had to give them credit--they sure fooled me with their humbling cacophony! Meantime, I'd get to keep the pants! The seeds could continue splitting and, with a little water, grow up into bigger things, just as my dashing son is doing.


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Related stories

That gypsy skirt makes another appearance in this story.

And the fun word saperlipopette is featured in this missive.

Discover the joy of seed collecting, in this tribute to the Dirt Divas.

View a picture of that Scottish broom (the seeds of which I collected in today's story).


French Vocabulary - (under construction)

le pantalon = pants

chérot = pricey

la chemise = shirt

Max à juré = Max promised

saperlipopette = oh my goodness!

le miroir = mirror

un cran = a peg a notch

le souci = worry

la garrigue = wild Mediterranean scrubland 

Seed eaters in the town of Orange.

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Max at 5 years old and at 16. Mom found the hat in an antiques store. GDF stands for Gaz de France. I wonder whether the hat was worn by a post war government worker. More on GDF from Wikipedia: Gaz de France was created with its sister company Électricité de France (EDF) in 1946 by the French Government. After the liberalisation of Europe’s energy markets, Gaz de France also entered into the electricity sector, having developed combined natural gas-electricity offerings.

Featured Story from the archives:

"Le Mot Juste": a story about a mysterious man I met in Croatia. Click here to read it.

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