There have been a few clashes between Canuck and French living in the past few weeks that I feel can no longer go unnoticed.
Marcel Marceau I Am Not
For the past week Chez Quinta has had family staying over in the form of a daughter and granddaughter which has been a lovely addition for me since I am still the only WWOOFer here. The thirteen year old granddaughter reminds me of my sister so I’ve been attempting interaction with her in my broken French. She’s quite confused as to why I’m here, initially she thought I was my host’s daughter and then she assumed I was some sort of maid. Wrong on all counts doll, I’m just a lost and weary traveller… Sort of. She came up to me in the hall a few days ago and told me she had run out of pads and wanted to know if I had any to spare. Since I a) have not used a pad since I was 12 and b) would rather skewer myself than sit in a blood diaper, I had to search for the French word for “tampon” in my mental dictionary. I had seen the word tampon used on a printing store window, so I knew the exact translation didn’t fit, and since in the heat of the moment I’m not known for being too suave my mime skills took over and I was creating an elaborate finger-and-sound motion of a tampon. Needless to say she did not, in fact, take any of my tampons. I can’t say I blame her.
Ice Ice Baby
A slight issue, but an annoyance to me all the same – several Europeans have informed me that ice cubes are not popular in Europe. I seem to recall having this problem last time I toured France, but since I drink a lot heavier this time around, it has been a growing nuisance for me. I’m lusting after a big glass half-filled with clinking and cracking ice cubes, half-filled with tequila and tonic. Forget men; just give me frozen chunks of water in a jumbo cup of alcohol to satiate my desire.
I’ve always been a fan of accents. I’m envious of people who speak with Cajun peppering their words and honey coating certain phrases that sound bland coming out of my mouth. It never occurred to me that in France I would have the accent. Unfortunately I’m certain I sound like a valley-girl-hillbilly mash-up to the cultured French tongue, but when someone asks me, “And where is your accent from?” I die a little inside. I’ve been told that I speak very hard “English” French, and that when I’m drunk I sound like a Spaniard – must be the wine rolling all my R’s for me.
Where Art Thou Skippy?
Another slight cultural nuisance I have encountered – PEANUT BUTTER. If you thought my lust for ice cubes was borderline raunchy, don’t even get me started on Skippy. I have searched high and low, even scoured my beloved Carrefour, and all I’ve found is the smallest jar possible of PB for a whopping six Euros. What the hell? Namua has informed me that peanut butter is regarded as an exotic food and that my best bet is to try the bio health food stores – or to make my own. I have a love affair with peanut butter, which has peaked ever since I came home drunk-as-a-skunk in university, passed out and woke up only to find out that in my intoxicated state I had a little peanut-butter-party and covered everything in my room, including myself, with a coating of Kraft’s Whipped PB. I’m not even sure if I got any in my mouth, but it turns out it’s hard to get peanut butter out of hair. Where art thou Skippy? I’ll find you.
And now for the grand finale of cultures mixing – breasts.
Breasts are everywhere in Europe. On beaches, on magazines, on advertisements – there are bare breasts and bodies everywhere! I would like to think I’m not a prude by any means, but I’ve yet to yearn for the wind on my nipples at the beach.
“You know America was founded by prudes. Prudes who left Europe because they hated all the kinky, steamy European sex that was going on. And now I will return to the land of my perverted forefathers and claim my birthright… which is a series of erotic and sexually challenging adventures.” (Eurotrip, 2004)
It was bright and sunny here in Laroque today so after lunch I decided to sit by the pool with a book and try to soak up some sun. I’m just getting settled into the chaise when I hear an upbeat “Cou-cou!” I swing around to face Sabine, one of our guests, and my smile freezes on my face as I find myself making direct eye contact with her areolae.
Let’s get one thing straight – I have breasts. It’s not like I’ve never seen boobs before. But even among my closest girlfriends we have never once whipped off our tops devil-may-care and pranced around with our breasts flying in the wind. Goddamn these French people and their nonchalant attitude towards women being topless. I envy it! I also fear it. She resumed her tanning place and I felt compelled to caution her against nipple-burn, but decided against it. Just like drinking on the street, (banned in Canada, allowed here), the thought of sunbathing on a beach, or anywhere, topless just feels so naughty.
Cultural clashes aside, I’ve reached my one month milestone in France and I’ve loved every minute. The adventure is just beginning!