Buyer's remorse in French: le syndrome du remords de l'acheteur
Blog hiatus + special story... and see you in December

Say "six pack abs" and the French gutbuster!

Lorgues, France, farmers market, chalkboard, tomatoes, (c) Kristin Espinasse
Stripey awnings, ardoises, or chalkboards, curly handwriting, mysterious woman.... What's so French about this? Photo taken in Lorgues, France, where today's story begins....


le bidou (bee-doo)

    : tummy, stomach

Le bidou is slang and is also used in kid speak. (It is another entry in our Petit Lexique de Langage Enfantin /Glossary of Baby Talk.)

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Si tu veux muscler ton bidou fais des abdos... ou bien tu peux essayer la ceinture abdo! If you want to tone your tummy do sit-ups... or you could try the belt toner!

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

After a fun-loving picnic at my dear friends Tessa and David's--in which guests brought a savory or sweet dish and you couldn't help but sample every single thing from spare ribs to lemon pie--Jean-Marc and I waddled to our car for the long drive home from Lorgues.

As I reached over to buckle my seat-belt, the most curious scene unfolded before me. There, beyond the driver's seat, Jean-Marc stood adjusting another kind of belt—his latest inspiration: the French gut-buster.

Ah for the love of machin-trucs! Man and his gizmos! To his credit, many of thingamajigs that collect in our cramped cellier are of Jean-Marc's very own making. Take, for example, the fabulous mop-spear (half mop, half fork—used for hunting spiny sea oursins...) or the toilet paper distributor... born of a reclaimed wine-barrel handle. Wait! That last creation was my own.... Necessity truly is the mother of invention! 

("Necessity" also explains the crowded state of our utility closet. Jean-Marc's philosophy when it comes to hardware bits and bobs is: ne rien jeter and always keep a supply of silver tape! One of Jean-Marc's most trusted accessories, he uses the duct tape for everything from curtain alterations to mop-spear repair.)

But the gut-buster is something else. All the duct tape in France couldn't buzz and beep like this doodad. This is one device my thrifty and industrious husband could not whip up or rig together on his own. He had to order it on-line.

Jean-Marc tells me the battery-operated belt is a muscle toner and that--without any effort on the wearer's part--one can build one of those impressive tablettes de chocolat, or what we call in English "six pack abs."

Either translation works for Jean-Marc and so, apparently, does the chocolate and the beer!  For when he is not wearing his tummy-trimmer while driving long distances, he's sporting it while dining in front of the TV. (Only, in place of the chocolate and the beer--it is wine and cheese he's eating.)

As you can imagine, this spectacular contraption makes my husband an open-target. After the daily teasing I suffer (following the quirks in my own character), I can't help but retaliate!

"Ça va Miss France?" I chuckle, when he fastens his high-tech waist-slimmer, and settles on the couch with a glass of Prosecco and a dish of nuts. "Do you really think that thing works?" I question, as I sit down beside my husband with my own dinner tray (we've settled in to watch the one o'clock news, a cozy tradition, especially since our dining room disappeared).  

But Miss France is quick to poke back when challenged: "Look at your bidou," he says, patting my stomach. "You ought to try it for yourself. Ça te ferait pas de mal!"

My feathers are ruffled now and I turn the injustice into one last grande critique:

"Beurer?" I say, eyeing the manufacturer's name, stamped across the front of the belt. One more "r" and it would be too good to be true! Meantime, I can still have fun with the name....

"Beurrer! What a name for a waist-slimming contraption: to butter! Oh well, don't let me keep you. Butter up, Miss France. Butter those abs!  

                                     *    *    * 
Post note: I'm not laughing anymore. Earlier I spied my husband as he returned to his beloved utilities closet--this time for a scrap of rope to use to belt his pants! I guess the gut-buster is working, and so is Jean-Marc's ever-resourceful mind.

"Which stomach-toning contraption is Jean-Marc using?" you may be asking. It is similar to this one. And he gives the machin-truc a thumbs up! 

(And you can read about Jean-Marc's fabulous mop-spear in one or both of these books: Blossoming in Provence or Words in a French Life. One mop-spear, two different stories. It must be special--or he must be special!)

 French Vocabulary

le machin-truc = thingamajig
le cellier = storeroom or pantry
un oursin = sea urchin
ne rien jeter = don't throw anything away
la tablette de chocolat = chocolate bar (also used to refer to shapely abs) 
ça va? = how's it goin'?
ça te fera pas du mal = it couldn't hurt you
grand(e) = big, great
la critique = criticism 

Caromb, France, truck renault, windshield, (c) Kristin EspinasseMore examples of DIY repair and creation by those ever clever French.... photo taken in Caromb, in 2010

Who needs to hire an ironworker when you can build your own cat balcony? Photo taken in Brignoles, in 2006. 

Here's how things are looking outside our dining room. Nothing a little paint--and a grand stretch of bougainvillea over the top--can't soften! Do you think it will soften?

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