Getting sacked… and Vanna White francais style!
Would someone please tell me what it is with the French and their precious bags? When did all of this stinginess begin? My god, they’ll wrap a little insignificant purchase like an eclair in a cute little box, with paper folded, turned, folded, turned, folded, taped and tied with a bow! But ask for a bag for an armful of purchases and you think you had just told them that they need to clean up where their dog shit on the carpet. There is nothing that brings on more disdain in a Frenchman’s face than asking for a sac (bag).
They already know me in Schleckers. They’re almost to the point of being cordial and then they get to ringing the last item of my purchases and then… they know I always need to buy the 2 cent bag… turn with a look of disgust and say “sac”? And it took a month to get them to even ask! Such a persnickety attitude! And I say, “Oui! S’il vous plait. Merci!” (Yes. Please. Thank you!). I can’t get anymore fucking friendlier than that. But it doesn’t work. They still look at me with disgust, and reach for their stupid 2 cent bag and glare at me as they put my purchases in. And that’s on a good day. Usually they just throw the bag on top of my goods, and… transaction complete. Totally ignore me. I could stand there and literally melt and they would ignore me. After my two cents for the sac changes hands they want nothing, absolutely nothing to do with me. I don’t know what they expect me to do with the 15 items I purchase if I didn’t get a bag. I suppose everyone else comes prepared with their mother’s (or grandmother’s before that) little straw shopping basket.
The other day I stopped in a French-country convenience shop in Old Town to get a liter of coke. Owner was friendly, happy, glad I came in, and then I asked for a sac. Eh, oh. That glare of sac disgust as he pulled the flimsiest, smallest possible bag out from who knows where- they keep them hidden under the counter so no one could ever have the chance to steal one- and stuffed my coke into it. The handles didn’t even come to half way the height of the bottle. “Puix-je avoir un plus grand sac?” (Can I have a bigger bag?). Was I freaking crazy? Did I really think he would just hand over a bigger bag? See, I also need them to put in my little kitchen trash can because I have to carry my trash a block to one of the town’s tiny trash bags for pick up. (That’s the way they do their trash pick-up here). I NEED these normal size bags like we get so freely in the states when we buy groceries. “Non, non, non” Mr. Hairy Bad-Breath said as his nostril hairs jumped in his nasal breeze. But… I showed him how the flimsy plastic handles on the little bag coming 1/3 of the way up couldn’t hold the bottle- it was a worthless bag. “Non, non, non”. He wouldn’t budge. “Mais je vais marcher loin d’ ici”. (But I have a long way to walk). Not totally perfect French but he got the idea. “NON”. I started whining in English and leaned across his miniature counter and pointed at the normal-sized plastic but still flimsy bags. Je voudrais cette sac. (I want this bag, asshole). He glared at me as his bad breath hit me in the face. And he slowly reached for the bigger bag and dropped it onto the counter under the thump of his heavy hand. His eyes never left mine. “Merci! (Thank-you) And go buy yourself a nose hair trimmer!” I actually just said merci. I was afraid to say the other part.
Then yesterday another run-in with the lanky guy who owns the boulangerie (bakery). I bought a demi-baguette (half a baguette). I had been saying baguette-demi before one faux (as in being a fake) nice shop owner from another store corrected me. She told me I was saying one and a half baguettes and if I wanted only a half then get it straight. Demi-baguette. As in next time she was going to give me what the fuck I asked for and I’d have to pay for it. Ok- got it. So this guy gave me my half baguette, put the 5”x5” tissue paper under it, pulled up the sides and twisted the top and you have a little Kleenex-thin paper covering the baguette where you hold it if you were going to carry it like that and laid it on his dirty counter where everyone sets their goods and puts their change. Voila! Oh no, how about a little baguette paper bag? They look like a sleeve that the bread just slides into. They’re never long enough and half of it sticks out and gets dirty, but it’s better than nothing. And with half a baguette the bag just about covers the whole thing. “Non”. What the? A stupid paper skinny bag to put my bread in??? “Non”. Give me the damn bag! “Non”. Fuck you, give me the bag! The verbal communication from my side wasn’t quite that, it was more like Je VOUDRAIS un SAC! (I WOULD LIKE a BAG!) but my eyes said it all. This time I was the one glaring. He told me I’d have to buy two halves in order to get a bag. In the end, Mr. Lanky-pants won and I walked out of the boulangerie holding my baguette with a tissue wrapped around the middle, open to the air for all germs to set up housekeeping. The funny thing was, I have no idea why I asked for a half a baguette to begin with. Carole and Bob are here (yeah!) and we chomped through that little half in the blink of an eye. I’m going to have to go back to Carrefour where the bags are at the self-checkout counter. There I can buy as many as I want and no one will know.
Oh my god! You should see the Vanna White on the French style Wheel-of-Fortune! I thought I was looking at a wind-up Barbie doll! This lady is gorgeous in a not even real sort of way! How could anyone have the bone structure from the long legs, long neck, thin rib cage and high forehead as a Barbie doll? I had read somewhere that a Barbie shape is so anatomically disproportionate from a real body that in real life the person would look bizarre. Well, let me tell you what abnormally weird looks like then. Amazingly beautiful! And she struts around- she actually really walks with those beautiful long
legs that look like they’ve been stretched as long as they can go- and touches the letters and I sit there mesmerized, watching the TV screen. She gets more airtime than our Vanna White, but no wonder. And let me first say that I think our Vanna White is one of the smartest TV personalities ever. She has worked steadily for over 25 years- no problem with job security for her. And when they digitalized the letters she even kept her job! There was absolutely no reason for her to come to work, like in the automobile factories when they got robots to do
what the workmen had been doing, and the workers became non-essential. But not Vanna White… she kept herself essential! But our Vanna, compared to the French Vanna suddenly looks like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies.
And guess what the French Pat Sajak comes with… a dog! Yep, every night he appears with his very own stupid la chien! (dog!). That’s how important dogs are in France- they even go to work with the host of a game show! Give me a break. I would say the dog gets about the same amount of airtime as our Vanna White.
The game is played exactly the same here as in the states, and even though it’s in French, body language is universal. You could turn off the sound and
not try to figure out the missing letters (since it’s in French), and you would think you were watching our Wheel-of-Fortune on a week when Pat and Vanna were both on vacation. You know, like Regis or Kelly sometimes step away for a week to take a break. And the audience makes the same sounds, for instance when the spinner has $10,000 Euros and hits the bankrupt slot and losses all their money… that long declining aawwwwww. The only thing I saw that was different was… the prize cars! Look at these cars they give away. Instead of a quasi-luxury sedan,
look what your prize could be in Europe! One of these little Playmobil cars. But everyone cheered and ooh and aah-ed so I guess they’re desirable.
As I mentioned, Carole and Bob are here! I found them in the airport by some streak of luck. Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. I had to get on a bus from a train stop I had not departed from before, and then tell the bus driver at which stop to let me off – the stop for the shuttle to Terminal 2 or some other far away stop for the shuttle to Terminal 1. I vaguely remember the girl sitting next to me in the plane last month when I arrived telling me we were coming into Terminal 2. So I guessed that- 50% chance I was right. The shuttle dropped me at Terminal 2 and sure enough there were other incoming international flights and I found theirs! I could tell by the relief on their faces that they had had just a tinge of thinking that I would never find them.
The apartment is a little small for me by myself, 18’x18’. That includes the bathroom, closets, kitchen, bedroom that turns into the wall and turns around into the dining table, everything. But the location is fabulous- right in charming Old Town amongst the winding, cobblestone streets and I really wanted them to experience living here, where I’ve enjoyed so much over this last month. For three people it’s somewhat tight. When we want to move around, we all stand up, one right behind the other, get close together and shuffle together across the room. And we’ve worked out the bathroom situation. When one person feels the need to use the bathroom, the other two just have to get out of the apartment for a period of time and find something else to do. Hey, it works! And I’m just glad they came to visit.