A Mad Dog in Bretagne

Part XI
(Le mot de la fin)

by Mad Dog

I didn't see French cut string beans, French kissing, or French postcards (not that kind, anyway).
     The two months is over. It went quickly. Too quickly. Too bad the 29-hour Full Moon Travel Trip From Hell out of there wasn’t as quick. How was I to know there would be a partial railway strike when I got to Paris which would make me miss my flight? I mean, whoever heard of something as ridiculous as the French going on strike?

     I didn’t get to do as many things during my stay as I would have liked. Or go to as many places. I kept waiting for your big fat check to arrive in the mail but it never did. Thanks a lot. But I can’t bitch; it was a great experience. Though there are some loose ends to wrap up.

THINGS I DIDN’T SEE WHILE IN FRANCE: French toast, French manicured fingernails, French cut bathing suits (okay, it was March and April in northwestern France), women wearing anything other than black hose (except that one who was being chased out of town by a mob carrying torches and brandishing baguettes, but I strongly suspect she was English), French cut string beans, French kissing (I’m not sure holding hands in pubic is even legal), Anatole France, Franco-American spaghetti, French postcards (not that kind, anyway), greeting cards that say "Thanks for getting those pesky Germans out of our country", or museums other than the Louvre (the Musée D’Orsay was closed on the Monday I tried to go and I didn’t get to stop at the Musée de Huitre (Oyster Museum) or the Musée Noces D’Antan (Museum of old time weddings) which I passed near Cancale.

I won't miss laundromats that charge 22F (almost $4) for a small load of wash, people who forgot how to smile, or the dog shit.
THINGS I WON’T SEE NOW THAT I’VE LEFT FRANCE: The new Smart cars, designed by Swatch and cooler than the new VW Beetles could ever hope to be; dogs and cats in restaurants; the obelisk at Cap Fréhel which overlooks the English Channel and looks like it’s giving the finger to the British; road signs in French and Breton; a telephone repairman bringing his son along and making him work; cafés filled with that dense blue smoky haze.

THINGS I’LL MISS: Cheap wine, cheese, and pastry; notepads that have little blue gridlines on them (either the French have horrible penmanship or they love to play Battleship); small appliances that are beautifully designed but don’t last; the food; keychains that have a skeleton key for the front door of the stone house next to a remote door opener for the car; toothpaste salesmen in drag for their bachelor party who sit down at your table in a restaurant on a dare; Paul and Mirèn dancing in the living room to Cajun music; the French versions of Main Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, which are rue de la République and rue Charles de Gaulle.

THINGS I WON’T MISS: Laundromats that charge 22F (almost $4) for a small load of wash; people who forgot how to smile; the Mont St. Michel souvenir coin trays, snow globes, cigarette lighters, and desk calendars; having almost every city named after a saint, and wondering who all those saints were; dog shit.

How can you fault a company that puts pop rocks inside a candy bar like the new Crunchie Explosion?
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE EATING IN PARIS OR LONDON: In France they don’t wash the vegetables before they sell them. The carrots are covered in dirt and the mushrooms have the root part still on it. The English, on the other hand, not only clean them, they cook them for four or five days before eating them just to make sure they’re sterilized. And unrecognizable. When they’ve reached the point that they can’t remember what vegetable it started out as, they mash it up. The French, on the other hand, like things so pure they don’t cook their meat, well, not that you’d notice. Steak Tartare is common. You can get it in England too only they call it "Live Cow".

In Paris they serve glace, which is ice cream that makes Ben & Jerry’s taste like ice milk. In England Cadbury’s sells soft ice cream which is cold lard that was once on the same continent as a bottle of vanilla extract. They also use this for lubricating their bicycle chains, keeping infants regular, and proving that a nation full of people without teeth can still enjoy food. As long as you define the term food loosely.

It’s amazing that Cadbury makes this. They do, after all, make the best mass market candy bar in the world: Crunchie. Sweet honeycomb inside and chocolate outside, you can get them at every candy machine in the Underground. Well, any one that’s working. Besides, how can you fault a company that puts pop rocks inside a candy bar like the new Crunchie Explosion, which incidentally made me a local hero when I found some (they’re new and hard to find) and bought ten of them for friends to eat after a long night of clubbing.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: I didn’t learn as much French as I would have liked. I also didn’t get to use a lot of the French I already know. I never once got to use the phrase ménage a trois during my stay. C’est la vie!


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