Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's The French Word For Deer Balls?

What's The French Word For Deer Balls?
I've been to Ikea about five times in the last month. It's on the outskirts of Paris, close to Charles de Gaulle airport. You can take a train there, I think. Then you have to get on a bus. Way too complicated pour moi. And why should I go through all that when I have my long-legged friend and her Mercedes hearse? OK, it's not a hearse, but she's definitely long-legged. And you could fit a body in there. In the hearse.

The first time we went, it was a dirty hearse. And my friend decided it must be washed. As always with her, I panicked, inwardly. She's the kind of girl who thinks, "Well when I first came to France, I was thrown to the wolves and had to figure it all out myself, so you have to do it too." So she's constantly telling me to do things and running away before I can say, "You want me to do wha...?"

I'm the kind of girl who thinks, "When I first came to France, I humiliated myself so many times, that I'd like to save you from doing the same thing." So I lead people around by their noses and tell them how to do everything (at least the minuscule amount of things that I've learned so far).

She says that nobody learns using my method. I say that's not true, they learn, but maybe more SLOWLY than she would like. I think we're both right. But her method is more painful than mine. And I'm too old for pain. Right?


Somehow, with this whole hearse washing idea, I knew at the acidic pit of my stomach (which was churning because she made me read the tiny little map at the back of the Ikea catalog when she got lost, as we were barreling down the freeway at high speed, with her hands gripping that wheel as if her life depended on it, except when she took a hit off her cigarette, and then blew smoke into the hermetically sealed tomb of that hearse) that I'd end up driving that fucking tank. And driving in France? Where the people shooting out of a side street to the right have the right of way, except on Sundays between 6:13 and 9:48.6 or on Holy Days of Obligation or after midnight during Ramadan? Nuh-uh!

So, we pulled into a gas station, where they had an automated car wash in back. She stopped beside the station and my gut lurched as I anticipated her saying, "Go ahead and go in there and buy a car wash ticket, let's see, get the one without wax but WITH the filtered, non-scratching water and then ask the attendant if the brushes will scratch my wheels and also ask if I have to take my antennae off and could you also get me a blah blah, you know, those special cheeses I like so much? But ask and make sure it's BIO but NOT pasteurized, I hate pasteurized. And while you're at it, ask if they can give you directions to Castorama because I know it's somewhere near Ikea but I'm not exactly sure where."

"Uh?" I would say, my eyes as big as saucers, "What's the name of that cheese again? Putain something? And what's the word for car wash and ticket and scratchy and filtered and wax and wheels and antennae and NOT pasteurized and Casto-what-what?" And she'd answer, with a sadistic sparkle in her eye, "Oh, you'll figure it out!" As she drives away and leaves me standing there, probably with my pants down and no money and she'll forget she left me there and I'll have to hitch hike back to Paris.

Actually, she only said, "I'm going to go in and get a ticket for the car wash. If anybody honks or yells at you for parking here, just drive the car down to the entrance of the car wash."

Whew! Uh...

Nobody honked and nobody yelled at me and no small (or large) animals were tested while the car wash ticket was being purchased. However, I smelled like an animal by the time she came back to the hearse. She didn't notice. After all, we're in France.

So she drives the hearse to the back 40 and I get out of the car and she moves that low-ridin' midnight-blue beast with the fat (and somewhat flat) balding tires up and over the tire grip. I stood at a safe distance and watched a swarm of yellow jackets swoop down and sip the water on the ground from the last car wash, then swoop back up to what I'm sure is the complete hivenation of the walls of that car wash. If I get stung by a bee, and I don't have an epi-pen handy, I die rather quickly. Somehow, that appealed to me, when weighing it against all the future times when my long-legged hearse-driving friend says, "Go ask that woman if she's leaving her parking space... or Go to the hardware store and get some of these rubber things that go into the drywall so you can screw things into them (hell, I don't even know what they're called in English!)... or Go to the post office and get a lettre recommende and make sure it's sent overnight."

We both stood in front of the machine and listened to the automated voice leading us through the step-by-step entry of the ticket. The problem was, though, that the sound of the car wash as it kept going back and forth each time we cancelled the ticket entry, drowned out her cheery little computer voice. It didn't matter. I didn't understand her anyway. And she didn't understand me, either. The ticket just wasn't working. The dirty little hearse was anxiously, impatiently waiting to be cleansed and there was no water spray in sight. The bees hovered and buzzed overhead, talking about how stupid these American girls are. They can't even enter a few numbers into a computer.

My friend TRIED to get me to go to the office and tell the woman the ticket wasn't working. I said no. Defiant little brat, aren't I? So my friend walked back there and was followed a few moments later by a very large and silent African gal who did all the same things we did (thinking all the time that we were stupid American gals), and also failed. The bees are now wondering if they judged us too quickly. The attendent returned to the office without saying a word to us. A few seconds later, out came a not-so-silent, even larger African gal, who was mutter-yelling to herself alllll the way to the machine. She tried, and also failed. She and my friend blah-blahed (or maybe in French it's pew-pewed?) for a while and they both decided that my friend should get her money back.

On her way back to the office to get her refund, my friend casually yelled back at me over her shoulder, "Oh, can you bring the car back around to the front?"

Where in hell are the bees when you need them?

It's been a while since I started a diesel. I somehow remembered that I had to hesitate in between turning the key half way and then turning it farther to start it. Baby steps! Then, feeling like my ass could be dragging on the wet pavement at any moment, I applied a bit of gas and chicka-chicka-chug-chugged that thing over the tire grip and out the end of the building, where I faced a hairpin curve to go back to the station (if I wanted to stay within the parking lot, which I DID) OR I had to pull out onto the street and drive back around to the front. Which is what I did. I only had one semi truck honk at me because a) I didn't realize how fucking LONG that car was and ended up in his lane (only for a second, I swear!) and b) I forgot how LONG it took for a diesel to go from zero to fifteen in 40 minutes or less.

I arrived back at the front of the station, sweating like a farm animal, yet again. My long-legged friend said into the window as she approached. "Where were you? Why didn't you just come right back through the parking lot?"

"I felt like throwing myself to the wolves this time instead of waiting for you to do it for me, OK?"

She rewarded me with deer balls at the Ikea cafeteria. Friendship is a wonderful thing, n'est-ce pas?

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