I wrote this way back in Fall of 2006, while studying abroad in France.
I just took the most incredible bath ever. Seriously, it was the stuff of dreams (or nightmares –depending on how recently you’ve seen the film What Lies Beneath). This tub is the biggest tub I have ever seen. You could probably submerge a sumo wrestler without spilling water over the edges, or having to torque him into some funky shape, for that matter. So, there you go. That was my first bath in France. Why? Honestly? I needed the relaxation after today.
I woke up at 6:30 am. I leisurely got ready for class at 8. I went to the Institut (about a 15 minute walk), and then I got there and realized that my class starts at 10 today! My 8 o’clock-er is tomorrow. BLAH. So I went home, only to come back at 10 and proceeded to live through a harrowing 8 hours of class. It’s like sitting still while people throw mental grenades at you. Actually, the first class is more like one psycho person with an Uzi. You guessed it, it’s the grammarian from Hell. But at least it’s a weekly reminder never to start smoking. It’s amazing that a well dressed, well educated person can be transformed from riches to rags with a smoker-voice and that god-awful smell.
Next I had Monsieur B., who definitely just continued on from last week. I think he’s going for the world record of semi-drunken dictations. Plus, he goes off on mad tangents. So, today I learned almost nothing about French Institutions, and a lot about how Monsieur B. went parachuting with a hangover and got tangled in a tree. And then he had to drink beer out of some guys parachuting helmet or something. I tuned out the middle, so I got kind of lost. Hope he doesn’t test us on the tangents!
Then my last class basically taught me that, in France, the reason why everybody takes SO much time to do stuff (like, eat, for example) is because there is a LIMIT of hours you can work. Ready for this? The official, legal number of hours you can work (as of a 1998 law) is 35 a week! No matter who you are (although I guess there’s some exceptions in restaurants). So, I had issues digesting this, and all the other people were like “oh yeah, we have limits too!”. I’m sorry, but except for the Chinese girl, we’re all from DEMOCRACIES … what about civil rights? For example, the right to pursue happiness by WORKING? (Because this seriously can limit your income and therefore your capacity to pursue material happiness.) So, forgive the political tangent, but I spent the last hour of that class trying to explain (in somewhat broken, jet-lagged, brain-dead French) why I was so surprised. Needless to say, all of these things led directly to my first French Bath experience. Which I must say was a positive one. Thumbs up.
My other “first” of the day (besides the bath) was a marriage proposal. Okay, actually, it would be my first in a long time, not my first ever, but those ones when you’re between ages 5-12 never really count anyways. So, there I was, standing at the vending machine getting my chocolat chaud between classes and all the sudden five guys walk in. Oh yeah. And one goes, the French equivalent of “Heeeeeeey!” and then another one goes “Hey, I’m single and I’m looking for a wife!”? and I couldn’t help it, I laughed. I was like, “Oh really? Well, I’m single, but I’m not looking for a husband, so that’s too bad!”? Geez. Guys in France are crazy. Their mothers must give them macho pills instead of Flintstone vitamins or something. I guess it makes life interesting!
To top the day off, I also ate rabbit for dinner. . . . for the first time. Never before had Peter Cottontail made it onto my menu. In fact, my sister once had a pet rabbit named Claudio. However, I am nothing close to a vegetarian and have long ago accepted where meat comes from. SO, I decided that I should give it a try. About halfway through my first bite, my host father started talking about raising rabbits to eat. Then I told him that sometimes coyotes kill rabbits behind my parents’ house and we can hear it shrieking. And then (WHILE I was eating my serving of rabbit) he started mimicking the scream of a dying rabbit. Right about this moment, just as I was quelling the urge to feel nauseous, Madame Berthoud used the serving spoons to lift the well-cooked rabbit’s HEAD out of the pot. That’s right: THE ENTIRE HEAD. She offered it to me before serving it to Pierre. Let’s just say it’s a damn good thing I’m a confirmed omnivore. Lesser carnivores would’ve sworn off meat forever after a dinner like I just had.