I'm quite used to getting unsolicited advice from French people about how I should look and dress; it's what makes the holidays so much fun! But in the past two days I've had two rather bizarre incidents that I thought I'd relate to my dear readers.
Yesterday morning I left my house for work and my sixth sense for public transportation kicked in. I think my bus is at the bus stop, I thought. I bet if I run, I can make it. (The bus stop is at the end of the street and around the corner, so by the time I can see it, it's too late). So I started to run up the street, quite fast, in my dress, trenchcoat and ballet flats, carrying a big bag of students files. You know, as you do. Totally normal. Not worth noting. Well, maybe for an American.
Have you ever seen a French woman run? I have. Once, in Parc Monceau. She was wearing a turtleneck and cargo pants. It was about 70 degrees fahrenheit. This whole "exercise" thing hasn't really caught on with French women, and as they say on that website with the silly cat pictures, teh kitteh is doin it rong! lol lol lol
My sixth sense is finely honed, for in fact the bus had been at the bus stop and was now stopped at the red light. The driver opened the door when he saw me booking it up the street. I hopped on and said, in French, "thank you!" The driver smiled broadly. "No, thank you!" he replied. Eh? "I just love that. I love to see a woman who runs!"
I laughed. What else can you do? I think I made his day. Power to the Yank who isn't afraid to leg it.
Today I got up the nerve to go to the hairdresser - my third time in France. The first time was great, because the hairdresser was a monoglot Portuguese speaker and I was spared small talk. The second time was not great. Today I tried a new salon in my town. This hairdresser, like the other two, was competent but a bit rough. I got thwacked with the brush a few times. She chastised me for me dry hair (a result, I'm pretty sure, of Paris's very hard water), recommended un soin (a deep-conditioner - and a racket), and trimmed my shoulder-length hair in record time. I was satisfied.
But I was also tired and having a "bad French day," struggling with both speaking and listening comprehension. So when she told me to sit back down , I didn't really know what was going on. She and the nice man who took my coat started asking me what I was wearing for makeup. Eyeshadow? Pah. Can't see it. Too pale! Concealer? Gasp! Not enough, apparently! And didn't I mind the redness in my cheeks? They could fix that for me, they cooed. Don't worry. C'est offert, madame. (It's free). Nice man produced a bunch of cotton balls and started rubbing my face. What the hell?
(Do I look like I want advice? Is this a French woman thing, or is it my bad luck? I went into a shop to buy sunscreen recently and the shop assistant looked at me, started nodding vigorously, and said, "Don't worry, madame, I understand your problem. Freckles. We have a product for you. We can fix that." Whah?)
So, without really agreeing to it, I got a free relooking from the nice man. It took longer than the haircut. Hairdresser and one of her turbanned clients peeked in from smoking behind the shop to offer encouragement. Mais regarde! Baaah t'es belle maitenant! Oh mais c'est tres bien!
Am I belle? Well, I think I resemble this famous and celebrated French person! I've resisted the urge to scrub it all off - I want to see what MCM thinks when he gets home. It's at least good for a laugh.
PS. Happy birthday, Mum!
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