Frehel Diaries: French Logic and Le Regime D'Atkins **
After the beach, we returned to Chunk to Teresa and Jean who invited us in for a drink after the usual flurry of kisses. While the two little girls continued to play outside. While I started with just a Coke, the rest drank Coke with Long John's Scotch Whiskey, a favorite apparently, and I hadn't the heart to tell them that Scotch and Coke is just ridiculous.

Soon we were joined by two others. We all sat around the table, smoking and drinking. They chatted while I sat and watched. I tried to follow the conversation, to be a part of the gather, but the visitors found my staring silence some what unnerving and so we had to go through the explanation and the lie, yet again, namely that while I understand what is said, I have trouble speaking. I tried to follow the conversation, but it's moments and snatches, like a radio on the fritz. At one point, they seemed to be telling a story about a little boy caught on a step stool blowing into a cow's ear. When his parents demanded an explanation, he told them that cows give more milk if you blow into their ears. Where he came across this piece of misinformation, I have no idea, nor do I have much of a clue how much of translation was accurate, but I found my version funny as they found the original.

The other friends left. We were now deep into the Coke and Scotch making a little nervous about myself, but very nervous about the Sauvage driving us home. But he seemed to be fine smoking and laughing and generally ignoring my presence. The TV was on and the French version of Wheel of Fortune (La Roue de la Fortune) came on. The first puzzle was the title of a piece of literature. The Sauvage looked at me and indicated that I would know the title. Now it's one thing to know literature, it's another thing to then be able to translate that knowledge, or even a title into another language.

The puzzle revealed how difficult that ability is for the solution was : La Case L'oncle Tom or Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe whose house I had visited many times growing up (she lived next door to Mark Twain). It hurt me that not only was I not able to guess, but even after the solution was given it took me a minute to be able to translate the title. But watching the show was absolutely entertaining. The female contestants, regardless of age, seem to have been chosen on the size of their bosoms and their willingness to wear low cut ensembles that made the simple act of leaning down to spin the wheel a lecherously suspenseful act as fabric strained almost to the breaking point The host was decidedly more casual than Pat Sajak and wore a cowl necked sweater. He was accompanied by a little dog, who sat next to him on a podium, and looked like the RCA dog. At one point the dog jumped off the podium, scampered across the stage, and leapt up at the French version of Vanna, a 25 year old blonde in a lovely tiered white dress. The dog managed to grab a swath of fabric and pulled and pulled, while everyone stood around and laughed, including "Vanna". The host finally came and fetched his dog of fabric, finally tearing off the swath. He carried the dog back to his side of the stage and tied the white fabric around the dog's head like a bandana, while Vanna's dress was none the worse for this little incident, and the show continued.

Oh how I loved Roue de la Fortune.

By this time, it was quite late;Teresa and Jean offered to make us dinner. In this case, it would be galettes, another Breton specialty. Galettes are like crepes, only they are made of buckwheat and have a savory rather than sweet filling. These galettes were filled ham, cheese, and eggs. After the galettes, we had local cheese with WASA crackers which our hosts apologetically explained was due to the fact that Jean was on the Atkin diet.

It is my firm belief that all the butter in the French diet goes to one place and arrests the blood flow there thus perverting their ability to be logical. Yes, I think that the French literally have butter on the brain. I just saw him eat a buckwheat galette and certainly WASA wafers, although they taste like cardboard, do have carbs. So I sat there watching him eat the crackers convinced he was being faithful to his diet. Thus the French version of the Atkins diet is simply not to eat bread. Unfortunately, not being able to translate "carbs" into French, I couldn't explain to him that he might as well enjoy the bread as he was just swapping one set of carbs for another.

Regardless of these points, I once wrote that if you are going to be on the Atkins diet in Paris, just don't go. Here in the US where the majority of your carbs are most likely consumed eating mass produced crap, like Low Sodium Triscuits or Sun Chips, going on the Atkins diet makes sense. You are cutting down not only on carbs, but over-processed most likely chemically laden junk food hopefully in favor of something fresh and local, like a fresh garden salad with goat cheese from the local farmer's market and just a touch of oil and vinegar. But in France where bread is an art, and it's fresh as opposed to whatever plastic wrapped, pre-sliced delicacy you pick up from the bread section from the supermarket, the Atkins diet is an anathema. My first French teacher, one of the people responsible for the antipathy I felt about going to France for so many years, used to wax philosophical about French bread-telling us that it was so packed with nutrients and vitamins that a bread and water diet in France would be far from a punishment.

After dinner, we drove Nana home, and he took me back to the hotel. I put on a black lace slip, but when he turned off the light he did not make his habitual move towards me.

"Tu me veut?"2 I inquired. "Non," he replied, "Tu me veut?" Of course I did. I came here for two weeks. I had two weeks to have as much as sex as possible before I went back to my apartment with my large empty bed. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, I wanted sex. I said as much, and he tried to muster the desire, but if there is anything worse than the lack of desire, it is the half hearted attempt to feign passion. As I assured him that I was fine with just going to sleep, I felt uneasy, but I had to remember he was older than I and we had been drinking for much of the night. And as Shakespeare wrote of alcohol "It provokes the desire, but takes away the performance".3

Still, as I curled up to sleep I hoped the next day would begin with the hot sex I had come to expect. And I feared that it wouldn't.

** My translation of the Atkins Diet.
1 According to Wasa's website, Wasa crackers are "a valuable source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber."
2. "You want me?"
3. MacBeth Act II Scene III


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