Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Squirrels and Three-Legged Yorkies

My neighbor is enjoying this fine July evening by watching Jersey Shore at full volume with his door open. I figured, might as well write you folks a blog post, complete with two stories. One takes place at the laundromat, the other at the work lunch table.

I. Bastille Day...schizophrenic weather made planning an actual activity rather difficult. Did some grocery shopping with the masses, and heard but didn't see actual fireworks. Bummer.

Sunday, I finally ran out of clean sheets and towels and forced myself to go to the laundromat. It's about a 10 minute walk, if that, and it's in a pretty chi chi neighborhood across from a famous covered market. I read the instructions, written on the wall and surmise that I must pay separately for laundry detergent. I go over to the central pay station and type in the number to have it vend me laundry detergent. I put in my euro, and clonk, out pops a wrapper with a coke brick of laundry detergent. Having never seen a brick of cocaine, and after just googling it, I have discovered that a brick is a kilogram! Who knew? So, it was probably more like 1/16 of a brick of laundry detergent wrapped in foil.

I put my stuff in the littlest washing machine (you pay depending on the size of the washer) and drop in half of my laundry detergent powder brick with my sheets. I set the temperature, trot back to the central paying machine, type in the number of my washing machine and put in my €4.20 (extortion!). I sit back with my kindle and prepare to wait. Then, I notice on the wall, in a different section than where I read the instructions, is a little diagram of a square with four sections, and it says laundry detergent, pre-wash, fabric softener, and something called "javel" (which word reference.com just told me is bleach). I am confused. Where is this little square, I ask myself? I keep reading, hoping that my laundry will get clean.

Then a rather well-dressed fellow arrives and flips this little silver lid on the top of the washing machine. Lo, the little square in which one is to deposit one's detergent! It's a front-load washer, so I was not really paying attention to the top of the washer. Humph. I note that my washer still has another 40 minutes (!) left, and does not look particularly sudsy. Oh well.

I duck out to a bakery I know that's open and get a lemon macaron. They have macaron "individuel" that are larger sized than the half-dollar size ones that you usually buy in batches of 6 or so. Or, as my husband calls them, hamburger macarons. In fact, they are slightly smaller than palm sized, so not really hamburger-size, but close enough.

After going back to the laundromat, I began nibbling on my macaron, at which point A rather iffy-looking woman with numerous missing teeth and a flashy pink hoodie walks in with a yorkie under her arm. She looks at me and says, "Bon apétit," in kind of an unhappy tone...as though I deign eat in her laundromat. All this in front of a sign that says "We remind you that dogs are forbidden." She attends to her laundry, and in follows another yorkie.

First thing I note is his face. He appears to be missing teeth on the right side of his face, so his tongue is lolling out in that direction, no longer confined to his mouth by pesky teeth. He is wet from the recent rain and I hear his owner call out in French that he should stay there and dry himself out. He turns in profile to me, revealing that he only has three legs. He starts to shake himself off to dry, and loses his balance and falls flat on his butt. As my husband aptly asked, "How do you say 'hot mess' in French." Three-legged toothless yorkie in a laundromat, that's how.

Owner puts down the other yorkie, who is clean, fully limbed, and well-brushed with a ponytail on the top of her head. I come to learn that the ponytail wearing yorkie is named Inès, and our mangy friend is Jude.

Meanwhile, this woman in a Prada raincoat looks on impassively. You always get a pretty good cross-section of the population in a laundromat, I guess.

II.
Today at work I had my first really amusing misunderstanding.

My coworker, A, is telling a story about going to the US last fall for an all-firm meeting of the litigation group with a then-pregnant colleague, C. Apparently, the city that they went to just smelled of food everywhere, even in the airport. With all the weird smells, C was super put off of food. In French, I heard the word "ecureuil," which means squirrel.

I'm thinking to myself, oh that kind of makes sense. Squirrels don't eat that much and the French have all kinds of expressions about animals ("poser un lapin à quelqu'un," literally put down a rabbit on someone, means to stand someone up), so be a squirrel probably means just being put off food. The conversation winds down and I ask A, what does "blah blah ecureuil" mean?

She looks at me blankly. I explain, "You said C was pregnant and she was ecureuil because of the food smell." Then, A goes, "OH, ecœuré!!! That means disgusted, grossed out, sickened!" The whole table is cracking up at my misunderstanding, and one colleague, F, I think was crying. I explain that I thought being a squirrel was an expression and how I thought I had learned something new and idiomatic! F said that she really liked the image, so maybe it will catch on as an expression now. ;)

So, in case you ever feel grossed out, just say you're being a squirrel.

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