In Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
                                          Recently, in Paris.

claquer (klah-kay)

    : to slam

Audio File: Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence: Download Souler or listen to the Wav file

Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! They don't stop slamming the doors and shouting. It's driving me crazy!


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

(Click on the following numbers to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story)

Pulling into the hotel parking lot I recognized Jean-Marc's voiture (the only one in France with an Obama sticker on the back). I was alarmed to see he had taken a place in the guest parking, one of two slots reserved for short-term stationnement. Ever since checking into the motel and receiving the 5 % discount, I had struggled to keep a low profile—and now here was my better half about to sound an alarm of indiscretion!

I hurried into the hotel, Jackie following close behind. Arriving at room 229 I recognized my husband's voice and understood that he was already on the phone, complaining to the front desk! This was a very bad idea given that there were only supposed to be two people in room 229 (earlier, I had requested a standard "chambre pour deux personnes"). Would the hotel now tack on a supplement for the extra person who just showed up? Worse, would we be accused of aiding and abetting a freeloader?

I would need to explain again our unusual situation to the hôtelier: we were in fact, the three of us—husband, wife, child—demeuring at the hotel for a short while. Some of us (Jackie and I) would stay the night, while others (it appeared) would appreciate a short reprieve from the noisy festivities going on back at home, where our 17-year-old was about to kick off his first all-night fête! Many of the teens had already arrived and a total of 35 would show up in the night.

Bon, no use worrying about our unofficial status any longer: my husband was now in charge (indeed, the room had been charged, in part, on his card!), so now HE could deal with the hôtelier, for he was now, officially, un client payant!

Time to put my mind at ease—if we were ever to get on with this weekend retreat! I set down my shopping bags and consulted, in my mind's agenda, my earlier plans :

...after the shopping, Jackie and I would stroll back to the motel for a swim, this after a nap and before an early dinner (just a few healthy snacks we’d pick-up at the supermarket), after which we'd tuck in early—one of us with a good book and the other with reality TV... what a mother-daughter mini-vacation this would be!

Some mother-daughter vacation! I watched, unbelievingly, as my husband settled in to my side of the bed—where I was to have my nap!—to watch the tennis match. Apparently Rolland Garros was underway. Jean-Marc grumbled about the statical TV (his reason for complaining to the front desk manager), but soon he was absorbed in the game.

I crawled over Jean-Marc, propped my pillow (minus the one he had snapped up!) against the headboard, and cracked open my book. That is when the solicitations began.

"Pousse-toi!" Jackie said, arriving with some just-washed strawberries. I did as my daughter ordered and scooted over, but not without reinstating my authority:

"Go and get a bath towel to put those on, or else those strawberries will stain the sheets!" I couldn't stop thinking about our duty as model hotel guests. How ironic it would be for our room discount to turn into a bill for damages!

Sandwiched in, now, between my daughter and my husband, I tried to concentrate on my book in spite of the noisy tennis balls and the drippy fraises. But when Jean-Marc asked me to pass him the snacks, I began to tick.

Tossing my husband the sack, I watched him dig in to my bag of chips and gulp down my bottle of water!

Well, if I had known he was going to crash our mother-daughter party, I would have bought snacks for all three of us! And I would have brought another pillow, too!  And now, what with the drippy strawberries, that makes only one towel to share among the three of us! 

No use muttering about it, it might hurt Jean-Marc's feelings... speaking of which, just what was he feeling and thinking before he left the house and the revelers?

"So what are your plans for tonight?" I casually inquired. I didn't want my husband to feel unwanted--even if this was mother-daughter territory onto which he had trespassed! Besides, he was partly paying for the room....

But a deal was a deal! Jean-Marc had agreed to chaperone the all-night party and had gone along with the idea of my taking advantage of the occasion by inventing the mother-daughter getaway vacation which was, presently, turning into a mother-daughter-father flight from the farm! 

"I thought I would take you to dinner," Jean-Marc explained, "then get a little rest before going back to the house."

"At what time?" I hoped not to sound unwelcoming or pushy, but I was curious to know just when our girls getway weekend would commence again.

"At one a.m."

One a.m.?! But Jackie and I had planned on getting a good night's sleep (hadn't we left the noisy  house for this very reason?) and tucking in early... and now we were doomed to hear the sounding of an alarm after midnight!

I was a little ashamed at the unwelcoming impulse which was revealing itself from deep within my soul (a selfish soul, after all?) Nevertheless, I pointed out a particularly threatening inconvenience:

"But there is only one bed here!"

"We'll make room." Jean-Marc was unconcerned. He reached into the bag for another handful of potato chips, before I snapped up the remainder.

"Give me that!"

So much for an evening spent reading beside the cozy table lamp! My place just got moved to the middle of the bed!

After a greasy all-you-can-eat dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant, we retired early so that Jean-Marc might profit from a few hours' sleep before returning to the party to chaperone the rest of the evening.

By now I had resigned myself to sharing our cramped quarters with my husband, to giving up a quiet evening of reading and snacking in bed (the snacks quickly disappeared during Rolland Garros, and there was no use trying to read without a table lamp nearby!). So when Jean-Marc switched out the light, I tried to find a comfortable position between two notorious bed-hoggers. At least no one would steal the covers tonight, for I would be in the middle! With a bit of luck, the warmth might induce drowsiness and soon I'd be off to dreamland... just as soon as Jackie quit fidgeting and Jean-Marc quit grumbling.

"That is the last time I will eat at a greasy buffet!" my husband complained. It seemed he had a bellyache.

Quelle idée to go back for thirds and fourths! And bright idea to sample the Chinese wine! Maybe stick to a Rhône wine next time! I kept my opinions to myself, concentrating, instead, on the calm and peace that would come—surely a reward was in store for this patient martyr! Only, no sooner had Jean-Marc nodded off than a distant thundering began. 

It wasn't Jean-Marc's snoring, for it lingered beyond my husband's noisy breathing. The sound grew louder and louder until I could begin to recognize voices. Foreign voices!

A couple of tour buses had just arrived.

Soon the hallway was alive and kicking with Indians and Russians. Trampling up and down the hall, they searched for their rooms, jammed their credit-cardlike keys into the doors' lock boxes. 

 "Good night, sweet dreams!" The Indians wished each other, over and over and over, again. Funny how they were dabbling in English, here in France! Normally I would have found their gestures and accents endearing—if it weren't all so unnerving at this time of day. Nearly midnight!

Jean-Marc snored through it all. Jackie began to grumble. Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! 

I startled each time another door slammed... and then the music began! What on earth? The laughing and merrymaking continued until my mind came to grips with the invasion... and gave in. I fell to sleep.

When Jean-Marc's alarm sounded at 1:30, I woke up to a quiet room. The tourists had finally gone to sleep! After a noisy exit of his own (Jean-Marc had to slam the door—not his fault, as every door at the motel requires a good tug shut as evidenced by the tourists' slam-fest we endured earlier!).

Alas, I patted Jackie on the back, our mother-daughter rest had commenced! We drifted off to sleep, so nearly at peace.... When every alarm in our wing of the motel began to ring. It was now 5 in the morning!

Jackie and I listened to the tourists' wake-up calls, one of us amazed by her poorly executed plan to get away for the weekend—the other complètement dégoutée!

"Mom," Jackie cried. "We would have been better off at home in our own beds!" 

*** THE END! ***

 (Click the following links to read  Part 1 and Part 2 of this story)

Post Note: Max enjoyed his party. Jean-Marc drifted off to sleep at 4:30 a.m. (after Max turned down the music). Braise and Smokey received a special pass to sleep upstairs, in a room farthest away from the noise. Jackie and I checked out of the motel by 10, feeling a bit jet-lagged but happy to be home again! 



French Vocabulary

la voiture = car

le stationnement = parking

une chambre pour deux personnes = a room for two people

un hôtelier, une hôtelière = a hotel-keeper

une fête = party

bon = right

un client payant = a paying client

pousse-toi! = scoot over!

la fraise = strawberry

Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! = They don't stop slamming the doors and shouting. It's driving me crazy!

complètement dégouté(e) = completely disgusted



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Outside Shakespeare & Company bookstore. 

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Along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, I saw this window display and thought of my daughter's room: wouldn't this be a neat way to hang pictures? Notice the horizontal bar at the top. Next, all Jackie needs to do is hang strings--then attach the frames! I thought my design-savvy mom would appreciate this one. Speaking of Jules, here's a cool accessory she found on-line:

Metro cuff
Paris Metro Cuff! It also makes a wonderful conversational piece -- to wear on your wrist.  A wonderful "conversation piece" for your wardrobe. Order one here.


Something tells me Mom would like this one, too... maybe it's that Frida Kahlo cape of hers that has me thinking it? No, it must be the wonderful cross!


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