Results tagged WTF from David Lebovitz

Stupid Boy

One of the hardest things about living in any foreign country is, of course, the language. Seriously, learning any language is really hard I’m sure, but anyone who can master French, who wasn’t pushed from the womb and spent their lifetime in an all-French speaking environment, I take my chapeau off to you. For the rest of us, it’s a challenge. Even the most mundane task, like writing a check, often requires a consultation with le dictionnaíre.

rareconditioned.jpg
English ain’t so easy either. And perhaps, inadvertently, they’re closer to the truth.

Last week, for example, I was looking for hand lotion (sans le dictionnaíre). As I combed the aisles at Monoprix, I finally found the moisturizer aisle, lined with lots of pretty pink and white bottles. So I picked a few up, reading the labels. After a careful reading and I finally found one that seems like what I was looking for, “Hmmm, that seems about right,” I thought to myself. As I go, I notice I’m getting some strange looks from the women milling around me, but assume it’s because they’re not used to people reading the labels of moisturizers as if they were Camus. As I make my way to the caisse, the cashier, while standing in line, I re-read the label, picking up a line on the label noting the lotion I’m toting around was intended for cleansing, um, shall we say, ‘intimate areas’. And presumably not for men.

(And even if I was, do you think I’d share that with you here?)

So it was no wonder that I got a few strange looks going back, trying to be non-chalant, and returning it to the shelf avoiding eye-contact with anyone in the process.

I’ve gotten in so much trouble mangling the language it’s no longer funny (well, actually it is…) One of my most infamous stories, that I think I may have recounted here before, I was at my favorite épicerie and I wanted red currant, or groseille jam.
So in my picture-perfect French, I said, “Je voudrais le confiture de gros selles (which I pronounced as ‘gross sells’), s’il vous plait.” She looked at me, her eyes incredulous that she couldn’t possibly believe her ears.
It was after a moment, I realized I meant groseilles (pronounced ‘gro-zay’).
I had asked for Big Turd Jam.

But even the French have trouble with their own language. I was at the Petit Palais museum recently with a gal pal (see video above), and came across a Nature Morte, which literally translates to ‘Dead Nature’, but actually means ‘Still Life’. There was one Nature Morte ‘aiguière’, a still life of a peeled orange. So I asked the attendant what an ‘aiguière was, and she was stumped. So she asked another attendant, who didn’t know either. It’s not even in my dictionary, which boasts 120,000 traductions. (Béa…help!)

About a year ago, I had just returned for leading a tour to Italy. My group visited Biella, a city famous for its mountaintop convent. One you’ve made the climb up to the majestic mountain, ensconced in the convent is a Madonna, made of black wood. She’s known, of course, as The Black Madonna (not to be confused with the Jewish Madonna, in America.)

At a dinner party back in Paris, I was recounting how exciting it was to climb this mountain in Italy, to see the ‘Verge noir’.
“It’s amazing, so beautiful to see,” I continued, “and people came from all over to see and worship the verge noir!”

Meanwhile, everyone’s looking at me with a bit of shock, and panic. As I keep talking, I’m explaining the beauty and magnificence of le verge noir. “It’s fantastic. Really a magnificent work of art”, until a friend leans over and says that he thinks I mean the magnificent ‘vierge noir’, the black virgin.

Not the magnificent ‘verge noir’, the black penis.

Ahem!

So I took it with a grain of salt when a French friend started calling me “Stupid boy!, which I told him was somewhat impolite. Then I realized what he meant to say, perhaps, was “Silly boy.” Or I hope he meant to say that.
Now to Anglophones, they are two very different things, but to a non-native English speaker, they’re rather different in meaning. “Don’t be stupid” is far different than “Don’t be silly.”

And, yes, sometimes even I am a stupid boy. For example, I know very little about some things, like Armagnac.
But the great thing about being a wonderful, giving, and caring person, is that occasionally you get rewarded for it and lavish gifts get bestowed upon thee.
Or me.

armagnac.jpg
The Best Armagnac in the World

After leading a Paris Chocolate Tour last spring, some of my guests bestowed upon me these lovely bottles of Armagnac. Of course, I was thrilled especially since the packaging revealed they were from Michel Chaudun’s chocolate shop and one had a lovely box of his superb chocolates discreetly hidden inside. But I wasn’t aware of how truly special those bottles were. When I wrote Kate about them, who lives in Gascony (the epicenterfor Armagnac), I could hear the gasp all the way to Paris, and she told me that I didn’t just have “the best”, but that I had “the best of the best”.

Living in France, I like to try a new cheese, wine, or whatever I can get my hands on (except tripe, which I don’t feel any great need to familiarize myself with), tasting new things while mulit-tasking and expanding my vocabulary. And although I thought my precious bottles of Armagnac might remain on my Too Good To Use shelf, they didn’t for very long.

So I may be a ‘Stupid Boy’, but I do know about baking and chocolate. And so you’re not a ‘Stupid Boy’ (or girl) you might want to know that Champagne Chocolate Truffles don’t contain any Champagne, but are made with Cognac. I got into an online tiff on eGullet with someone who insisted I was wrong (and some of those eGullet folks get real nasty). She had seen a New York-based French chocolatier on television pour Champagne into his truffle mix. When I went to look at his recipe, sure enough, he did use true Champagne. He also called for a specific brand, and after some checking, I found out…surprise!…the Champagne company is one of his many sponsors.

But for the most part, Champagne in truffles means Cognac and derives from the old French term champaigne which means ‘open-field’, according to the Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac.
(If that woman from eGullet is reading this, take it up with them, girlfriend…)

Both Armagnac and Cognac are distillations made from grapes, varieties which are generally not used for making ordinary table wine. Like Cognac, Armagnac is a region in France. It’s closely associated with Gascony and it’s cuisine (prunes and Armagnac, for example) and produced in the Pyrenees.

Cognac is farther north, on the Atlantic coast, near where oysters are farmed off the Ile de RĂ©. The salt from the region is famous as well. Armagnac is distilled once, while Cognac is distilled twice and I find when tasting the two, Armagnac feels more rugged to me, which is part of its appeal. Its flavors seems to be fuller and more complex while Cognac is more delicate and refined. It’s been said that “Cognac is the girl you can bring home to meet your parents, while Armagnac is the one you keep hidden away.”

So if I was making chocolate Champagne Truffles, theoretically I’d have to use fine Cognac. But if I had a choice of what to drink, I’m working my way through these bottles of Armagnac, which I’ve decided I’m not going to let sit on the self for too long.

What do you think I am…stupid?

Dear Madame France

thermometer.jpg
“Did you see how hot it was? It was so sticky-icky!”

Dear Madame France:

Thank you so much for allowing me to live in your wonderful country. I love tasting everything I can, learning more about your rich history and curious customs, and even though I can’t conjugate the verbs in the plus-que-parfait-de l’indicative (come to think of it, all those verbs are so darn hard!), I’m trying my best, really, and hope to be able to do them all someday so as not to disappoint you.

I also want to thank you for loosening up the rules around here and allowing me to wear shorts and flip-flops, which was especially important during the recent heatwave. To show my gratitude, I promise to keep my feet in top-top shape…I promise!

But that heatwave we just got over was a killer, wasn’t it?
Just putting on clothes was a challenge and I guess that most of my neighbors had the same problem wearing clothes too, which I could see from my window night and day (especially at night). You probably already know this, but in case anyone else is reading this, there is this widespread perception that all French people are slim and in good shape. But from what I could see (especially at night), the people who live in the apartments surrounding my place are getting kinda flabby and certainly not the image of the trim, well-kept Parisian that people think of.
(Especially those people just across the courtyard from me! I think they’ve eaten way too many of your yummy croissants!!)

But seriously, there is something else that I’d like to talk to you about:
How to deal with future heatwaves.

Although I’m told this is a relatively new phenomenon, it seems like since I’ve been here, we’ve had two; the last one killed 15,000 of your citizens. That’s a lot of people, don’t you think? Kinda sad.
I find it odd that a country where the summer temperatures now normally reach over 100 degrees (38 degrees C), very few places have any sort of ventilation or fans. I’ve heard from lots of your people that fans are bad for your health (and expensive, although mine was less than 30€, which I don’t think is expensive…do you?) but I’ve been using fans all my life and I’m fine. Really. And so has the rest of the world outside of this big hexagon that we live in.

I heard that the Tour de France riders from other countries almost passed out when dining and during their off-hours, since they couldn’t get anyone to open windows or turn on a fan, and were becoming severely short-of-breath. Please, Madame France, help your people see the error of their ways, lead them from the Middle Ages. I hate to see your people, as well as those of us who love and care for you, needlessly suffer year after year after year.

(Well, come to think of it, there’s a few people that I don’t mind seeing suffering, mostly that nasty woman at my bank who works at the desk and will never help me. She’s not very nice and your city would be a better place without her. Is there any way you ask her to leave? She doesn’t seem very happy here.)

France is a modern country and I really love it here. Really. You’re extremely technologically advanced and you’ve had so many breakthroughs in various scientific and medical fields that have changed the world. Yet I don’t understand why there are no ceiling fans anywhere. They’re perhaps the simplest and most environmentally-friendly method of cooling down interior spaces I can think of and I’m not a rocket-scientist like those brainy folks in Toulouse. Could you ask some of the restaurants and other public spaces to put them in? They’re really not that expensive.
Pretty please?
: )

(And tell the places that have air-conditioning that if they want it to work, they need to close the windows and keep them closed. It makes the machines work far more effectively, and they’ll waste less power so you won’t have to build so many nuclear power plants.)

I know sometimes you just say, c’est la vie and folks blame the government, but people here are exceptionally adept at taking to the streets for getting whatever they want (the government, the big bunch of sillies, always gives in…how cool is that?), and I’m surprised there hasn’t been some sort of an uprising. Maybe if you offered cold beer, people might go. Just a thought.

While at La Poste the other day, I almost passed out waiting in line from a combination of the heat, and from the bo of the woman in front of me who was furiously waving a fan, blowing the smell in my direction. I was tempted to back away from her, but I’ve learning living here that if you leave the slightest bit of space between you and the person in front of you, that seems to be an open invitation for someone else to step right in there. But it was really unpleasant…to say the least!

So here’s an idea that you should really, really think about:
Why not install some ceiling fans between now and the next lethal heatwave? I’ve visited extremely impoverished, totally destitute third-world countries, and most public and private buildings have them. Why not put them in Paris? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe you could also replace the bus windows so that they could be opened in hot weather as well. Seriously, it wouldn’t cost that much, would it? I know you’re a little short on cash lately, so maybe just raise fares (oops…I see you’ve already done that this month.)

Gros bisous!

David Lebovitz
Paris, France

PS: While you’re at it, could you also please ask the Parisians to stop walking right into me as if I wasn’t there?

Thanks again! You’re the best!!!

And It’s Only Wednesday

So far, this week…

…I ran over a not-quite-yet-dead pigeon by accident with my shopping cart.

…My mobile phone died.

…My ATM card expired.

The bank told me to wait for the replacement card.

Which was sent in May.

…My credit card was cancelled, which I learned while at the cashier with a overloaded cart at BHV.

There were thirty people behind me. And they were not happy.

…I’m almost completely out of money here.

…I got a letter from the IRS that said I underpaid my taxes, and owe more.

Plus interest.

…I got a letter from the State of California that said I underpaid my taxes, and owe more.

Plus interest.

…The cash wire transfer paperwork that I filled out when I was last in the US was incorrectly prepared by the person at the bank.

So they told me I have to go back to the branch, in California, and re-do it.

…A French friend explained that iced drinks make you very sick, since they cool down your stomach too much.

(Er, I suppose traveling a few minutes through my digestive tract won’t have any effect on warming up the cold liquid.)

…I got falling down drunk at my friend Olivier’s last night.

(He has air-conditioning and my original ruse to to pretend I was drunk and had to spend the night, but then I really did get drunk and was worried about making a fool of myself.)

…I was giving myself a haircut and my hair clippers inexplicably quit halfway through.

I would go to the BHV and get another pair, but my credit card was cancelled.

And my hair looks a little funny.

…There’s a new movie with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock coming.

…My absolute favorite olive oil shop in Paris, which has the best selection of oils, is closing for good this Saturday.

(All oils are on sale, 30-50% off, at Allicante, 26 blvd Beamarchais.)

…When I went to pick up my sheets at the cleaners, I found out they’re closed until the end of August.

All my sheets are there.

…World War III appears to have started.

…George W. Bush, the most powerful person in the world, has over two years left on his term.

…My manuscript for my book is due on Friday and my Mac feels like it’s on fire.

…The temperature in my apartment hasn’t dipped below 100 degrees in over a week.

The government says“…go into a store for 2-3 hours a day, to cool down.”

( Gee, I wonder if Monoprix would mind if I set up my laptop there?)

…I have a canker sore.

…I feel another one coming.

…I made Peanut Brittle, and left it to cool by the open window…

peanutbrittle.jpg

…then I came home later and found a pigeon feather next to it.



The Sales

levisparis.jpg

There are two periods during the year when stores are allowed to have Les Soldes, or The Sales. They occur once in the winter, beginning shortly after New Years Day, while the summer soldes start in late June. Although Americans think its odd, the government’s official explanation is that les soldes give stores a chance to blow-out all last seasons merchandise quickly by creating a little frenzy. But I think another reason is to give the little stores a break, since as we’ve seen in America, often the smaller merchants get squeezed out by the big guys offering lower prices on things by holding sales all the time.

So onward to the BHV. What is the BHV, you ask? Imagine someone scouring the every corner of the world, looking for the least-helpful people on the planet. Then they hire them and put them in one enormous department store that’s impossible to navigate but full of everything imaginable and necessary for daily life in Paris, so you really have no choice but to shop there.

And those are the people in charge of helping you.

And now, you get the idea of the BHV.

So today is the first day of les soldes and I would say to anyone who has fantasies that Parisians are polite, classy, and sophisticated, hasn’t been elbowed out of the way in front of the bins at the BHV department store, strong-arming anyone who might get between them and something they want.
Or don’t want.

It doesn’t really matter.

And Parisians tend to go a little wild here, since in general, things like clothing and housewares are pretty expensive. I happened to be heading to the BHV this morning, since last night I switched on my desk lamp and blew out some fuses in my apartment. Although I was determined not to get involved in the hubbub, once inside I got caught up in the madness and thought, “Well, I guess I could use a new pair of jeans.” Last week I discovered a bare spot forming in a place where not a lot of people get a close look at, thinking their days are numbered.

To make a long story short, I never made it to the hardware department, but instead got taken in by the stacks and stacks of jeans that were all 30% off. Since you can’t get away with wearing American-style baggy-assed jeans in Paris, you need to wear pants that are well-fitted, snug-tight up against your rear end (no matter what you weigh.)

Our unless you’re under the age of 21. Then you wear jeans hanging halfway down your butt, but only as long as you’re wearing boxer shorts underneath rather than those Euro-sling undies and swimsuits that some men in my age (well above the age of 22) like to wear here.

Not finding what I liked, I left empty-handed. But with my adrenalin (or was it my morning cáfe au lait?) pumping, I raced to the Levi Store in the Bastille. Not quite busy yet (aha!, I beat those young folks wasting their lives away in school), the young salesmen were instantly drawn to me, amazed at the Levis that I was wearing, which were made with a special cut and fabric that I bought in San Francisco. So there I find myself, surrounded by handsome, unshaven, young French men, all oohing and aahing while staring at my butt and crotch, reaching over feeling the fabric, and closing in all around me. I don’t know if it was me, or the summer heat has finally arrived once and for all, but it was surely getting much warmer in there. And naturally, I decided right away that I needed a new pair of Levis, and this was the place I must get them.

Helping me find a style I liked, one of the friendly young men, wearing a well-fitted t-shirt (was it Levis? If so, I want one too.) He kept calling me jeaune homme (young man), while asking me what I thought about the style that he was wearing by running his hands up and down his thighs to emphasize and make sure I understood how good they fit (yes, I did.) So he hands me a few pairs of the same jeans to try on, and transfixed, I head to the dressing room.

Since we’re in France, there’s no need to be shy and he pops right in soon afterwards and starts surveying the fit by yanking and patting and making sure all button-fly’s buttons were laying properly, exclaiming how well they fit. Yes, they’re supposed to be that tight, he told me. And for additional emphasis, in case I didn’t quite get it (yes, I did) he makes doubly-sure with his hands that I know there’s little room in there for anything besides maybe a Euro-sling, and perhaps a few centimes or fuses (…fuses? What fuses?…) But certainly not much else.

Soon all the other boys, er, I mean jeaunes homes, came by and made sure I’m getting properly fitted, admiring my choice in jeans. When I questioned whether I might need a larger size, one turned to show me how his fit him, sliding precariously down his backside, and he asked me if I wanted to same. (Yes, I did.)

But instead I went home with the jeans I had on, at 20% off, back to my darker apartment, thinking I’ll go back first thing tomorrow and get fuses.

But perhaps if the BHV took a cue from Levis and hired a few of these helpful young men as salespeople, customers like me might leave their store happily with something more than just a fuse in their pocket.

Levis
47, Faubourg St. Antoine
Tél: 01 44 87 03 06

Belt-Tightening

Summer is here in Paris. It arrived without warning last week and was brutal. It was hot, and it hit around 31°(about 88°) and so humid, I faced a real-meltdown of chocolate. And just about everything else around here, including me, suffered the same fate. Just when no one couldn’t bear it anymore, it stopped. Then we had rain and cool weather. It’s so other-worldly (hey…am I back in San Francisco?), but summer arriving means a lot less clothes, and since I’m now European, it’s obligatory that they’re much, much tighter. Damn Europeans and their fine-tailoring. So that means it’s time to pay for the last 8 months of eating too many pastries, tasting too many chocolates, snacking on too many macarons, and drinking perhaps a bit too much vin rouge. I don’t know if I can hold my stomach in consecutively for the next three months, but I’m going to try. I’ve unpacked my shorts for summer and they definitely are un peu serré.

jacquescaramelswillis.jpg

Speaking of tightening my belt, last week I got to spend the morning at my favorite place in Paris, getting rid of a few excess US dollars I had lying around. My favorite place isn’t the Eiffel Tower nor the Louvre (they don’t take dollars), nor was it the Museé d’Orsay or the Jardin du Luxembourg. Yes, I got to go to the American Embassy, my favorite place in Paris! I like hanging out there, since everyone there understands me, unconditionally, and without judgment. There’s no raised eyebrows or startled expressions, like last week when I recently ordered ‘Big Turd Jam’ (confiture des grosse selles), when I meant red currant (confiture des groseilles). Luckily they were out of the first one.

But the American Embassy is great: I can argue back with impunity and get huffy with them. Hey, why not? I’m on equal turf, and I’m an American and my English is just as good as theirs.
And I can argue with anyone all I want and make perfectly-formed sentences with correctly-placed pronouns and not worry if this verb is masculine to I need to match the adjective to the gender as well, or decide if I need to decide which of the gazillion French verbs I need to conjugate correctly, unlike I have to do at the Préfécture.
What are they going to do if I screw it up my English at the US Embassy? Kick me out? Or in?

So there I was, on the rue St. Florentin, where I waited, stood in line, got scanned, went through the metal detector, then had my water bottle confiscated (I guess it’s a threat to national security), then headed to the IRS office. Being a foreign resident you get an automatic extension for paying your taxes, which comes in handy when the mail isn’t very reliable. I guess somehow they caught on and give us expats a break.

So in my bid to help fight the war on terror and make the world a safer place (though things don’t quite appear to be quite heading in that direction) I sat under the over-sized, overly-glossy, and over-polished pictures of George and Dick (whose has a rather curious smirk on his face for an ‘official’ portrait), and wrote my checks.

And prayed things wouldn’t get any worse.
And in fact, for me, they were about to get better.

A whole lot better.

caramelsjacquesgenin.jpg

Since I was in the neighborhood (well, not really, but since I left my neighborhood, I’m gonna stretch it), I decided to visit chocolatier Jacques Genin. A lot of people talk about M. Genin with a hushed reverence and most of it is directed at his terrific chocolates. But one bite of his Passion Fruit Caramels and I’m singing a different tune. And you’ll be too.

I had stopped at a bakery down the street for bread and noticed les palets Breton, delicate buttery cookies made from salted butter, so I bought a stack. Four was the minimum for some reason… this from the country where you can buy half a baguette for 42 centimes, and when madame wants to buy one fig, madame will be given the same courtesy and service (and take as much time) as, say, an American pastry chef trying to race through the market buying a flat of figs or a few kilos of nectarines to test recipes.

So I bought four, but M. Genin was happy to relieve me of half of them. In exchange, he swooped his hands into the tray he was wrapping of caramels and stuffed them in my bag (and those caramels are as precious as gold, since you can’t buy them in stores.) As you can see, each caramel is buttery, tender, and keeps its shape just long enough to get it into your mouth, where it dissolves into an explosion of creamy-smooth sweet goo, slightly tangy from the passion fruit, with exactly enough of the tropical pulp to offset the restrained sweetness of the caramel.

So I can’t say I’m going to get any thinner, or my shorts will soon fit better, or when I hit the beach in August, I’ll be turning any heads. But when you have a guy like Jacques Genin feeding you chocolates and handing you caramels, who cares if your belt needs to be loosened out a notch.

Or two.

Jacques Genin
133, rue de Turenne
Tel: 01 45 77 29 01

NOTE: This post was updated in 2009, and now M. Genin has his own boutique in Paris, at the address above, which is open to the public.

Culinary Confessions

I often cook pasta in not enough water.

I wash mushrooms.

I don’t grind my own coffee beans.

I melt chocolate in a bowl set in, not over, simmering water.

I hate soup as a first course.

I buy store-brand butter for baking.

I try to use as few pots and pans when I cooking as I can.

I lift the lid when cooking rice to see how it’s doing.

I don’t like trying to pull off that stubborn and tough little dangling thing on the bottom of the meat on a chicken leg, either before or after it’s cooked.

I don’t know anything about tea.

If I had to choose between a fancy Michelin 3-star restaurant and a plate of perfectly fried chicken, I would choose the perfectly fried chicken.

I crave chocolate all the time. And I act on it.

Chocolate is the best thing in the world.
So is foie gras, Sevruga caviar, stale candy corn, Château Y’quem, dead-ripe figs, warm sour cherrie pie, hot corned beef on rye with mustard, Comté cheese, fleur de sel, Italian espresso, Korean barbequed pork ribs, any and all chocolates from Patrick Roger in Paris, French fries correctly salted, pretzel-croissants from City Bakery in New York, and those toasted-coconut-covered marshmallows with the queen on the bag.

I don’t understand people who don’t like chocolate.

I prefer chunky peanut butter.

I don’t like when I’m staying at someone’s house and they don’t have one decent saucepan or sharp knife.

I don’t like other people using my knifes.

I don’t understand being particular about having, or not having, nuts in your brownies (unless it’s an allergy). Is it really such a big deal?

I don’t like it when people make up food allergies in restaurants. If you don’t want something, just say you don’t want it.

My freezer is crammed with frozen cranberries, forgotten baguette halves, and chicken stock that I neglected to put the date on. And some chocolate chocolate-chip cookie dough and two different batches of espresso granita. One is better than the other.

I refuse to go to restaurants where the reservations person is an asshole on the phone.

Waiters should only be rude to customers if the customers are rude to them first.

I like when the newest, hottest, self-important restaurant closes within two years.

Anything with tentacles is gross.

I don’t like hand-washing silverware.

It’s hard to make money in the culinary business. Leave Emeril alone. Really.

If I have cookies or brownies around, I will eat them before breakfast.

I hate those cheap Turkish dried apricots. They have no taste. And I don’t know why anyone uses them when the California ones are so incredible.

I can’t remember the last time I spent more than 4 euros on a bottle of wine for myself.

I love the idea of organic, but I just can’t bring myself to spend $5 for a beet.

I just spent $18 dollars on a farm-raised chicken this week, which was delicious.

I hate when people don’t toast nuts.

I really don’t like to eat fish, especially when there’s lots of little annoying bones that you have to eat around and pick out of your mouth.

I like getting something extra for free when I go out to eat.

I hate when people grab at free samples of food.

I don’t like Evian water. It’s thick and viscous.

I like filling up on good bread in restaurants.

I refuse to eat standing up.

I like the process of getting drunk, but I don’t like being drunk.

I hate the tip system in restaurants.

I never cook beef at home. It never tastes as good as when you order it in a restaurant.

I prefer my own cooking to most of what I get in restaurants.

I crave bitter, wilted, sautéed greens with olive oil, salt, and perhaps some garlic.

I never count how many eggs I eat in a week.

I read food blogs while I eat.

I floss every night.

Ok those are some of mine…and yours?

Welcome To France

A couple weeks ago, someone sent me a thoughtful gift from the US.

A few days later, I get a bill from the delivery company; 42 euros for taxes (the gift was valued at 80 euros, making the tax about 55%.)

So I head to the office of the delivery company, where they show me the official rules for gifts sent and received in France:

“If someone sends you a gift, they must write on the paperwork ‘Unsolicited Gift’”, they explain.

I reply, “So next time I receive a gift I should refuse it if it doesn’t say ‘Unsolicited Gift’ on the paperwork?”

No, by then it’s too late. If someone’s going to send you an unsolicited gift, you need to tell them to write ‘Unsolicited Gift’ on the paperwork.”

“Oh.”

I stand there for a moment, looking at them to see if they perhaps detect any bit of irony there.

And do they?


I reach for my checkbook.


Welcome to France.

Knuckleheads

So I’m in the supermarket line with my basket of groceries.

The man in front of me unloads his basket, then dumps his plastic basket on top of the neat stack of other shopping baskets.

But instead of nesting it snugly within the other baskets, he just drops his basket on top, askew and cock-eyed, handles facing upward.
So I need to put my basket down to re-arrange his basket so I can set mine down inside and unload it.

This happens to me all the time.

Obviously he set his basket in there before me, and the person before him was kind (and smart) enough to do it properly.
Right?

Or…he had to adjust the others (like I’m gonna have to) and maybe afterwards, like any normal, thinking person who walks upright and not on all fours, do you think he might realize…
Gee, wouldn’t it be nice of me to stack my basket properly for the next person, not like that idiot in front of me?

Are you one of those people that just drops their shopping basket wherever they want and doesn’t think about the person behind them?

Are you?

If so, cut it out.

Especially if I’m in line behind you.