Posts Tagged 'faux pas'

Faux Pas Friday Guest Post: Newcomer’s Follies

Greetings from snowy Vermont! I hope you all are having a lovely holiday season. I’m just starting the intense residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts (if anyone wants to follow along with just how intense, here’s the daily schedule.)

As I won’t have a lot of time to update the blog, I’m delighted to have a guest today. You may remember I interviewed Aurelia d’Andrea when her Moon Living Abroad in France guidebook was published. When I noticed Aurelia making funny comments on Facebook about her faux pas one day I said, tiens! Why don’t I invite her to contribute to Faux Pas Friday? I’m glad she accepted the invitation! And so, without further ado…

“Newcomer’s Follies” by Aurelia d’Andrea

triumph statueIf faux pas were an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist. The main difference between me and a true Olympian, though, is that I don’t have to train for my sport. Being a Socially Inept Expat just comes naturally, without even the slightest modicum of effort.

Since moving to Paris two-and-a-half years ago, this innate “gift” has flowered like an out-of-control weed. France, it seems, offers nearly ideal conditions for social awkwardness to flourish. I would’ve liked to have nipped this problem in the bud, but it’s too late for that now, and how do you nip when you don’t even know where to begin?

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday Guest Post: Newcomer’s Follies’

Faux Pas Friday: Misunderstanding on the Metro (or Save the Children)

Mid-afternoon, mid-week. Dark and wet like many a December day in the City of Light. I descend into metro Colonel Fabien and try to shake off the cold.

When the train arrives, I spy through the window the one free seat. It will be mine. The man behind me has the same idea. He rushes past me as soon as the doors open, nearly sprinting to get to the seat. He plops down and puts on that blank city face: I don’t see you even though you’re right in front of me.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Misunderstanding on the Metro (or Save the Children)’

Faux Pas Friday: Furry Feet/Free Swedish Gym

It’s been awhile since a Faux Pas Friday. No, I haven’t suddenly gained more finesse. I simply haven’t been going out enough to get myself into a fix. But never fear. Spring is near, and increased outings will surely offer me new ways to look the fool.

Here’s one:

I’ve been meaning to go to this free exercise class since mid-January (yes, I know it’s now mid-March). You’ve already figured out that I’ll do a lot of things for a good story; have I mentioned the great lengths I’ll go to for just about anything free?

“Gym suedoise.” Swedish gym. Ok, I have no idea what that means, but I decide that Swedes are usually in very good shape, so I will trust them with a fine workout routine. (Remind me to write another post about my former Swedish fetish).

I finally decide, spur of the moment (as I do many things) that tonight is the night.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Furry Feet/Free Swedish Gym’

Faux Pas Friday: Beauty Blunders

Warning: The following post risks TMI. Still here? Great!

Last week I treated myself to a hammam. Actually, friends treated me as I received a “Bien-Etre Smartbox” as a birthday gift (great idea!)

The “Smartbox” contains a catalogue of “well-being” activities from which to choose – a massage, a Qi-Gong class, a hair-styling session (really?), entry into a hammam, etc, etc. Any of the listed partners accept the Smartbox card as a gift certificate.

If you’re googling “hammam” right now, I’ll save you time: it’s the Turkish word for steam bath and a bit of a thing in Paris. Why getting naked, sweating, and having someone scrub me down was my idea of fun, I’m not sure, but this was the option I selected. (Oh wait, I guess that actually does sound fun, in a racy sort of way).

Saletta Hammam allestita per uno dei trattamenti più esclusivi del centro Benessere
(This is not the hammam I went to, but you get the idea).

I’d only been to a hammam once before, but never to La Sultane de Saba. I was so excited for my little adventure, I wasn’t thinking straight when I left the house.

Halfway to the spa, I noticed the Smartbox’s advice: “prevoir un maillot de bain.” Bring a bathing suit.

Oh. Yeah. Duh. A bathing suit.

(Crap). I didn’t have a bathing suit with me.

I quickly ran through my options:

1) Show up with nothing. Enter the hammam completely naked or in my raggedy underwear. Risk eternal embarrassment.

Or, 2) Go back home, grab a bathing suit and hope I’m not yelled at for being late.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Beauty Blunders’

Living in Leisurewear

A few times in recent weeks I have stopped just shy of committing an almost unforgiveable act: leaving the apartment in my bathrobe. Thankfully I realized each time at just the last moment, and said to myself: I can’t go out in this. I’m in Paris.

Rough Day.

Is that sad? It’s the fact that I’m in Paris that stopped me from stepping out in sleepwear? (As if somewhere else it would be acceptable?)

Now, let me explain a few points.

Continue reading ‘Living in Leisurewear’

Trick or Treat

Thanks, everyone, for your supportive comments and amusing stories. An extra special shout-out to fellow blogger/writer and faithful reader Lydia who shared one of the funniest faux pas I’ve heard in awhile. Enjoy!

pumpkins

“It was Halloween. An English lady (near here) decided to decorate a pumpkin. She cut it out and lit tea lights inside it; it glowed and looked lovely. Very soon the doorbell rang and a small group of village children stood on the doorstep calling for a trick or treat.

She opened the door.

‘Ahh, les enfants, viens voir ma *poitrine*’ she cried.

The children backed off, confusion on their little faces.

‘Mais viens, ma poitrine, elle est tres belle, elle est tres grande!’ she insisted, beckoning them in, holding out a basket of sweets as a further incentive.

The children turned and fled.”

Can’t blame them, now can you? For those who need a little translation assistance:

Potiron=pumpkin
Poitrine=chest (breasts)

Easy to see how she mixed them up, but boy, does it make a difference!

“Come little children and look at my boobs! But come on, my breasts are very beautiful, and very big!”

Trick or treat indeed. As Lydia, said, “can’t imagine what the village parents thought when their children came home that night.”

Keep the faux pas coming, folks. Bon weekend!

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Feeling vs Smelling

Friends, I’ll be honest: I’ve hit a rocky patch recently. I prefer to keep the happy public face because it’s more fun for you and certainly better for me. I can’t tell you how much I love getting your comments; they brighten even bad days.

One upside to my personal struggles is that I’ve found my way back to a more conventional “Faux Pas” to share with you this Friday.

Hard times call for long conversations (at least in my book). So I’ve been doing a lot of emoting of late. You know, talking about feelings.

Only since this talk is in French, it’s inevitably garbled.

Sentir means both to smell and to feel. I confess I have no idea if there’s a correct way to structure sentences to make the difference clear. I’m pretty sure there’s been some confusion in some of my conversations. I thought the difference might lie in that one was reflexive and the other not, but even that hasn’t seemed to help.

So [insert deep discussion], then: “But what do you smell?” I insist.
[Questioning look].

“I mean, what do you feel?”

An actual bar in the 20th. Looks like I am not the only one having trouble with the word feel!

This faux pas series has helped me transform my once humiliating errors into something pretty humorous. Why, I almost look forward to making mistakes now! The only thing is, I realize I’m not the best guide for you. I mean, I know when I’ve said something off (or I find out years later!), but my form of French is so…um, let’s say, interesting….that the correct explanation often eludes me.

I learned French in guerrilla fashion, remember. Heavy on the “sink or swim” model, light on actual grammar classes. Grammar pointers from you experts out there are always welcome!

So, hope you’re smelling the roses and feeling great. If someone wants to translate that into French, go right ahead. (You know I’d screw it up). Bon weekend! (And please excuse me if I need to take a little blog break, though I’ll try not to!)


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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