Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Comment se dire: What the f***? en francais?

We were in France last week and oh, the crazy French, ze mek mee laff.

My two favourite hunnh? moments:

  • A pharmacy window display with, as its centerpiece, a bride’s head in a bowl. It was surrounded by tanning products, so I can only assume that she was decapitated for not appearing at the altar the requisite shade of Tango orange. Either that or, this being France, she had committed the fatal flaw of fake beautifying (rather than effortless elegance) and the John the Baptist-esque scene was intended as a dire warning to the remaining residents of the town (and to passing nosy tourists).

  • A box of mouse poison. I suppose, in English, we call this rat poison rather than mouse poison (why? Do we not kill dinky little mice, or does “rat poison” just sound more substantial somehow, in the same way that a rat is undeniably more of a rodent than the mere mouse?).

Anyway, for the joy of this anecdote to work, you also need to know that the French word for mouse is “souris”.

The name of the poison? “Souricide”. Brilliant. The packaging featured a picture of a mouse in its death throes just in case we were in any doubt.

And then a hunnh moment we delivered in reverse on the way back to Dooobleen:

  • A hipster on the plane home engaged in conversation with Lucas (20 months) as we disembarked. I’d seen said hipster in front of us in the queue for the plane. He stood out by dint of travelling alone, notably without the array of small wailing children clinging to all other passengers. He’d been carrying just a small bag, which he checked, and an indeterminate bundle in a black bin bag, which I’d naturally assumed was some kind of bomb.
Lucas was admiring the Quiksilver logo on hipster’s t-shirt (ie, poking at it and burbling) so hipster explained to him that it was a surfing brand and “I’ve got a wetsuit in this bag, actually”. Ah, so not a bomb then – god, my powers of deduction are brilliant.

said I, speaking for Lucas who was clearly not going to have the vocabulary for this particular exchange,
“Lucas has a wetsuit too”

Hipster looked at Lucas with sceptism, then back at me.

“Not a real one though, right?”

“Well, it’s pretty real. It’s a Billabong suit, and it has instructions for how to wash it post-surf”

Hipster surveyed Lucas again, this time with a renewed respect. His brain, you could almost see it hurting from the attempts at processing. I understood. It was a hipster version of Bridie the Baptist.

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