So I’ve always thought that the saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” was pretty strange because it doesn’t actually have a shred of literal sense.
But the French one-upped us again. They say “il pleut comme vache qui pisse” which literally translates to “it’s raining like pissing cows”. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a cow pee but this makes me very much want to avoid being underneath one when that happens.
So, in French “vrai vie” translates to “real life” or “reality”. Except Cedric’s solid state professor who teaches in English kept talking about silicon in “true life”. So now we know a true life French gangsta.
This time the translation got lost in the other direction: one of my American friends was trying to find beets in the supermarket so she told the guy behind the counter, “Je voudrais des … beets.” Which she thought meant “I would like some beets.” Except “beets” in French (actually “bites” but pronounced the same way) means penis. So there you go. Didn’t know you could find those in the supermarket.
One of my French friends has a British girlfriend, so his English is pretty good but he still sometimes makes mistakes. For example, he explained that he doesn’t always get the curse words right: “It doesn’t come to me naturally, I don’t have the reflex for bollocks.”
My Italian friend Riccardo was telling us about his day in Paris, and he said:
“I met a Korean girl. She was really nice… and really expensive.”
…wait, what?! Apparently the Italian word closest to “expensive” means outgoing, but all I could picture was a little china doll.
I was discussing badly-named foods with this same friend (i.e. how the words for “penne” and “penis” in Italian are basically the same), when he exclaimed, “Well what about America?! I’m a Dick! I’m Richard!”
One of my friends in London came to visit me this weekend, so we did the classic Paris tourist walk on Friday afternoon. Until Friday, I hadn’t actually been to the Eiffel Tower in the entire month I’d been in Paris. I guess more important things like falling on people and disturbing others during theater class were taking up most of my time.
We saw everything I would expect in a tourist district, from mini light-up Eiffel towers to a guy juggling flaming batons to kids on leashes.
We also saw some unexpected things: a couple of different people were trying to sell these mini walking (more like hobbling) dogs that squeaked unnaturally when they moved. There was also a guy trying to sell a doll with the face of a little blonde girl, which looked innocent enough until the eyes lit up red. She was staring at me. I can’t ever un-see that.
We got yelled at during class again yesterday for being too noisy, this time by the crochety old English professor next door. To be fair, I have no idea if she is actually crochety (although she is old). All I have to go on is that her glasses were all the way on the end of her nose when she opened the door and intimidatingly reminded us that her students were trying to think and do “real work” next door. As if acting isn’t difficult. Humph.
This happened after we took turns reading a Marx soliloquy in groups of three, starting at a whisper and slowing getting louder and louder until we were shouting at the end. The teacher also handed out pieces of chalk to the rest of the class and we were entitled to throw chalk at the people reading if they weren’t articulating enough, which of course just turned into a competition of trying to get the chalk to land perfectly in the poor victim’s hoods but at least the audience was entertained. The floor was quite colorful afterwards.
Speaking of colorful floors, our breathing exercise for the day was to lay sprawled out on the floor for the first ten minutes of class taking super deep breaths and then “projecting our breath towards the walls and turning it into paint so that we could cover the entire room with whatever color or design we wanted”. What does that even mean?!
To warm up the body and exercise our trust, we stood in two lines across the room from each other and took turns closing our eyes and running full-speed towards our partner and attempting to stop just in front of them. I don’t know if you’ve ever run with your eyes closed, but it’s pretty scary, especially when you hear the steps of the other people next to you. As a terrible judge of space and speed, I stopped a full meter and a half in front of my partner the first time and then ran into him the second time. Oops. One of our other warm-up exercises was to walk first like an angry businessperson and then like a tiny little flea. Last time I checked fleas don’t walk. Just sayin’.
Also we got our scripts for the final play, but I won’t be here since it’s in February so that’s disappointing. The main character is a man who has a job at a theme park dressing up as a duck but gets fired for his Marxist rants that don’t actually make any sense. It’s gonna be a spectacle indeed.
However much I complain about the layers of bureaucracy that I’ve had to wade through on France, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the super relaxed liability requirements.
On Saturday, my friend and I went adventuring (quite literally) in an adventure park whose website is aventure-aventure.fr. Lots of adventure indeed.
An adventure park has different routes through the trees that consist of challenges such as balancing on a log or a set of swinging steps (like a bunch of trapezes in a line) in order to get from platform to platform. I didn’t take any pictures while we were there, but I found a pretty good picture online of a different park that helps explain the setup.
Adventurers wear a harness that has two short cords attached to it with karabiners on the end of each cord. The main rule is that at least one karabiner must be attached to a safety cord at all times, but other than that people are free to explore and go through the different challenges at their will. It’s awesome.
We started the day on the intermediate course, then moved on to the difficult and finally the impossible one. I admit I had to cheat once because I couldn’t handle the monkey bars, so I attached my pulley and ziplined to the next platform because I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle. I was disappointed until my friend went behind me without cheating and then did actually get stuck. But I made through the suspended rings and cargo nets and tarzan jumps and wobbly suspended wooden platforms.
I did have another little hiccup when I missed the cargo net on my first tarzan jump. These jumps involve swinging on a rope and catching a net on the other side, and the first time I tried I didn’t get a good grip on the net and ended up swinging back towards the other platform, but didn’t make it so I was just chillin in the middle between two platforms hanging from a rope for a while. Luckily my friend was behind me and he was eventually able to pull me up and give me enough momentum to get to the other side. Much better than the time I did an adventure park with my cousins five years ago and got stuck in the middle until someone walked by and was able to grab an employee to let me down. Super embarrassing.