I'm afraid that, with the simple act of opening the door this morning, I may have single-handedly altered one man's perception of an entire country.
The combination of a newborn, a toddler, extremely generous friends and relatives and the holiday season means that for the last six weeks or so, we (excuse me, they) have been receiving a package — sometimes two — on a near-daily basis.
You'd think we'd be bosom buddies after all this, but until just a few minutes ago, and for a reason unknown to me, his only words have been: Bonjour madame, signez s'il vous plaît, merci, and au revoir.
This morning, however, after looking me up and down a time or two, I got a: Vous venez d'où, Madame? out of him. Emphasis on the où.
"Moi? Je suis américaine," I said, thrilled to have not gotten the usual "Ah, vous êtes polonaise, n'est-ce pas?" for a change. (I have no idea why my way of speaking their language indicates to the French that I am Polish, but it usually does.)
"Ah, américaine…" he trailed off, nodding slightly, knowingly. "Au revoir, madame."
Fast forward to a few hours later, and to five minutes of downtime (for my two children never sleep at the same time, you see) and to my first chance of using the restroom (or of glancing in the mirror, for that matter) since, I don't know, sometime yesterday?
Man oh man, was I a sight to behold.
For those of you who have never tried living with two children still in Pampers, here's a summary: you don't get to sit. Ever. You don't get to sleep, you don't get to eat, you don't get potty breaks, and you sure as heck don't get time for personal grooming.
I'm way too busy nursing a newborn — who doesn't eat so much as graze — and who, even when ‘stuffed like a tick' (as my mother would say) enjoys nursing anyway. A human pacifier, that would be me.
In fact, these days she looks more like a growth on my chest than anything else, the result of which had me finally abandoning shirts altogether a while back. Yes, that's right. I now walk around the apartment in nothing but a nursing bra day and night. Any little thing to save time, you know…
This all goes to show why, when the buzzer sounds, I have just enough time to (a) remove dog from scene, (b) secure toddler, (c) disengage newborn, and (d) find something somewhere that can pass as a shirt.
And why, even at nearly noon (as was the case today), I look the way I do — hair standing on end and sporting mismatched, rumpled pajamas (of which a mere one button is closed, displaying that lovely nursing bra for all the world to see) — before the person doing the buzzing reaches the door.
And why our postman may very well now have a new image of Americans.
At least I didn't shout at him in English…
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January 16, 2006
Subject: Living in France, blog