French Faux Pas, Part I

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Moving To France, Paul is a Dork
This is not a rose des sable. Malkie got this one. This is a caramel macaron with two chocolate eyes and a grenache bon bon nose. It's called a macaron clown and Malcolm was in love with it. Until he ate it.

This is not a rose des sables. Malkie got this one. This is a caramel macaron with two chocolate eyes and a grenache bon bon nose. It’s called a macaron clown and Malcolm was in love with it. Until he ate it.

Just to let you know, there is more to life in Paris than fantastic apartments and amazing culinary experiences. It’s true! Why just the other day, I saw something really depressing and it made me think about life and it’s tragic consequences. Oh wait, that thing wasn’t tragic. It was a Rose des Sables, a pastry with hazelnuts, caramelized crepes and pastry creme. It made me want to get on an airplane and go home to slap the mother of everyone single person I know back in the United States. Maybe things are still pretty good here?

There are, however, some instances where things do not work out as I intended. Here’s how that looks:

1. No!

We went to a restaurant that promised a memorable creme brulee. Settling into the table, the waitress brought a basket of bread and said something in French to us. I figured she asked if we wanted bread, and so I said, “No.” She seemed surprised by my answer. When she returned with water, I called my own bluff, asking her what she had said. She said, “I asked if you wanted to know the specials.” No wonder my refusal was a bit surprising! Part of me wanted to double down, and tell her, “I thought so, we came here for this wonderful printed out menu. Why on Earth would we want to get something off that shitty chalkboard? Now bring us foie gras!!!” I didn’t say this, though. I said, “Oh.”

2.Fecal Soccer

Amy, Malcolm and I hit the nearby park to play a bit of soccer. It was a bit rainy, but warm enough to enjoy ourselves. We even got into a match with a local kid. For most of the outing, I noticed that the park smelled heavily of dogshit. Thinking, “That’s just the way it smells at Place Des Etats-Unis,” (ironically, “USA Square,”) we continued the game. When we got home, I realized that Malcolm had stinky, wet dog shit all over his cleats. Mind you, soccer is a game where you kick a ball (with your feet!) so kicking a ball with shit crusted feet ensures that the ball will also be shit crusted. And, when you kick the that ball or grab it out of the bushes and roll it to your opponents, that turd residue rubs off on you. The park wasn’t stinky. We were. I can’t even imagine what that local kid we played with thinks of us. We’re never going back.

3. I scratch … down there.

One of things I am most passionate about is talking about my private parts. (Sounds like a great bullet point for Linked In, doesn’t it?) Anyway, I have jock itch. I would like to take this moment to let you know that this is a good thing. True, it’s a fungal infection, but like athlete’s foot, it imparts a distinction of sports-related accomplishment. In my mind, it’s second only to an Olympic Gold. I will grow concerned only when I start developing ailments like Oaf Scratch or Lazy Man’s Ring-Around-Your-Anus.

Satisfied that my physical prowess extended to my time in Europe, I headed to a local pharmacy to brag about my affliction/trophy. There is, thankfully, a place in our neighborhood advertising itself as “Anglo Americaine” which, to me, reads, “Bring your swollen, itchy junk here for some relief. We speak your language!” I did. I spoke to the woman behind the counter who informed me that she did not speak much English but she would try. (Anglo Americaine my ass!) Sadly for me, she did not understand the term, “jock itch.” This was a crushing development, because it meant that I was going to have to pantomime my affliction to her.

[OK, stop reading, and do this: wherever you are, pretend that you need to describe jock itch to someone charades, style. Go ahead. Done? There is really no way to do this without smiling and/or developing a deep rooted sense of shame about yourself. Yet, this is precisely what I was forced to do.]

I began by scratching the palm of my hand and pointing down towards my groin with both hands like a Eastern European man at a dance club. The pharmacist understood itch, and asked where the itch was. Was it on my belly? No, no the itch wasn’t on my belly. With half a grin on my face, I thrust my hips forward and pointed to my genitals vigorously and then rubbing my hands together ala Mr. Miyagi to demonstrate chaffage. (In many ways, my entire life had been leading up to this very moment. It was oddly peaceful.) I was about to lift my arms over shoulders in a weightlifting pose to delineate my terrific accomplishment from those sad sacs with disgusting venereal diseases when the clerk opted to hide as best she could behind a display of trendy French mouthwashes. When she popped back up, she told me that the other pharmacist spoke better English and that I wait for him to finish up with the customer he was helping. Evidently when Mr. Miyagi points to his crotch constantly here, he doesn’t get good service.

The second clerk didn’t understand the term, “jock itch” either, meaning I had to go back through my dirty gesturing all over again. OH FUCK YOU, ARE YOU SERIOUS? IS THERE NO ONE IN THIS GODDAMN COUNTRY THAT HAS ITCHY THIGHS? REALLY?! (The first clerk feigned un-interest in the corner, I think she just wanted her partner to see my routine.) After going through my itching and pointing, more pointing and more itching, the clerk told me I had two options: essentially, I had to decide between baby-butt cream and bug-bite cream. I was devastated. This was no way to treat an athlete like me! My jock itch was the result of a rigorous workout regimen. I wear that fungus like a badge of courage. To classify what I needed on the same level as a baby who shits itself or someone who gets stung by an ant is to practically deny me any accomplishment at all. This was not good. I took the ant-bite cream, as the clerk said it would probably be more effective. It stung, much like the bite of an ant. I walked home feeling two feet tall.

Life isn’t always perfect here. Still, a little embarrassment (and doggie doo!) is a small price to pay.

Tags: ,

5 responses to “French Faux Pas, Part I”

  1. gina says:

    It’s called champignons microscopic. (mee cro scop eek) Sorry for the phonetics, but I couldn’t remember how to spell it in French.

  2. […] I regularly impress myself with the things that I am able to cobble together (finally got that jock itch cleared up!), but everything breaks down when the French reply. Most of the time, I end up staring […]

  3. Madge says:

    Hey, that post leaves me feeling folsoih. Kudos to you!

  4. Nice blog. Big fan of both bjj and Korea — I’m a middle-of-the-road blue belt from the middle of America who’s been around the (south) Korean peninsula three times now, mostly chasing the old trails of Buddhist monks up into the mountains. Anyhow, keep doing your thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *