Saturday, November 19, 2005

attention aux tondeuses

the other day I was walking down a fasionable part of Paris when I heard the triple clop-clop-clop of three mounted police coming up the street behind me. Their horses were impervious to the traffic and noise, despite no blinders. I decided to ever-so-discreetly take their picture, it being a childhood dream of mine to be a mounted police. policewoman. mountie.

Being the discreet person I am, on the second or third take the rider in the middle notices me and shouts out something along the lines of: "Did you get a good picture?", I think, although it was hard to make it out exactly over the traffic din. And I was so startled I answered in Italian!

Apparently I just couldn't imagine a government employee being both "French" and "not rude to me" at the same time.

Apparently my French communication skills have gone to hell in a handbasket. I also went, that day, to be a hair model at the Jean Louis Davide Training Center for provincial hairdressers come to Paris to learn the latest styles. AND I WAS ATTACKED WITH AN ELECTRIC RAZOR, a.k.a. une tondeuse. It turns out the trademark style of this hair salon is to ONLY use an electric razor to cut, trim, layer, or in any way alter the length of your hair. This was somewhat alarming because I do not sport the crew cut, and it involved a lot of standing up to check if everything is even, and also: I have a lot of hair, people. It takes a long time to layer it by electric razor. But by far the most perplexing part of the afternoon, from my point of view, is that I specifically asked not to have bangs cut into my hair. Looking at the laminated booklet of the dos available, I asked the haircutter trainee: "Pourquoi ont tous ces modèles une frange?" And, although she was totally uninterested in my opinion of the best way to layer hair or learning the fabulous English term "mullet" which I think captured at least three of the models astonishingly well, we did get across that I was not interested in bangs. In fact, I think it is the only time in going to get a haircut that I specifically requested NOT to get something. Well...dear reader...
I have bangs.
Or, as my friend A has helpfully pointed out in German, "du hast ein Pony?!"

Thank god they actually don't look that bad. But I'm not sure why my haircutter had to disprove my prejudices against bangs ON MY OWN HEAD.

My latest theory is that I must be saying things in a way that seems slow and circuitous to French people when I am reaching for an idiom. Especially impatient fast-firing Parisians, who want to cut to the chase and don't do irony. Because otherwise it would be uncanny (or sadistic) how many times French people take me to be saying the exact opposite of what I am saying.

It could also be related to the fact that I feel much more comfortable listening to Hélène Cixous talk about Kafka, Freud, and Derrida's Résistance au pluriel for several hours than I do trying to explain the latest DSL connection problems to my landlord.

This still doesn't explain "pas de frange" though!


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