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Monday, February 27, 2006

give a girl a break

I'm standing helplessly at the check out, a line of angry French customers staring me down.

Under their glares I fumble through the change in my wallet. The family's weekly groceries are lying in a heap in front me, waiting to be packed into my trolley, but first I have to pay.

I give an apologetic smile to the cold stone faces. I want to pay so they can get on with their lives. I want to pay so I can stop smiling like an idiot.

The total is 50.92. I wasn't left any money for the groceries this morning, so I'm using what I have, knowing they'll reimburse me. But all I have is 50.72.

People stare. I explain myself. I pray someone will offer me change.

Silence.

I ask the expressionless man, next in line, if he has 20 cents. He opens his wallet and passes me a coin. I smile, say "Merci" at least three times and finally pay the cashier.

After packing up my trolley and a big plastic bag, I waddle the groceries down the street.

A man outside the newsagent says "Bonjour" to me. I answer "Bonjour" with a face as cold as the angry army in line at the grocery store.

Another man says "Hello! Smile! Hey!" And I roll my cart quickly away. Normally I would yell back, but not today.

Back in the apartment, I panic as I'm unloading the groceries, realizing I have no more change to buy the daily baguette. I have zero cents to my name.

I distract myself by making lasagna for tonight's dinner. Monsieur comes in as I have three pots going on the stove, one for the beef, one for the Bechamel sauce, and one for the sheets of pasta.

He apologizes about the grocery money, pays me back, says it smells delicious, and laughs at my passion for cooking. His presence is warm on such a cold day.

It's grey and dreary when I pick the kids up from school. At the park I shuffle my feet around and hide in my scarf.

At dinner the young girl tells me I shouldn't say things like "Hey!" When I'm trying to get mad at them. I should say “Arrête tes bêtises! Assis toi!” She says that I shouldn't say "Okay" so much either. I tell her I'm Anglophone and it's normal for me to use English words. The boy starts laughing and chants: "Anglophone, telephone! Anglophone, telephone!"

She refuses to eat, or even try the lasagna, and asks me to make her something else. I give her bread, cheese, dried saucisson, and see her nibble at the lasagna when I’m not looking.

I can't believe it's only Monday.

6 Comments:

Blogger Hubbard, Raab & Rocket said...

Just stumbled upon your blog, and wanted to let you know that I enjoyed this posting. You are a talented writer. Thanks for sharing.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

isn't it scary counting money at the grocery store here? i've totally had the same stares... sorry we didn't get to hang out this weekend but we'll definitely have to next weekend if you're free -- and you can meet my friends from school that will be visiting!

wish me luck with MD... he's supposed to call sometime this week.

xoxo
charlie

4:54 PM  
Blogger Mirella said...

Hi Gill,
I'm always stressed when I am packing the groceries too. Somedays, I concentrate on my self and I don't care about the staring.
Tomorrow I will go to the Palais de Tokyo.
thanks for your fun and well written posts...

2:25 AM  
Blogger Haley said...

Gill..I haven't been keeping myself much updated on the internet lately. I think that this is crazy. It really sounds like you're a mother....so much responsibility. I would've died having been twenty cents short! I panic using my mastercard..knowing there's money on it..in fear that there just might not be just by some crazy chance. Poor girl. Well..now it's Tuesday and I wonder how your day went.

Haley

3:48 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Tom-Thanks for stopping by, hope I can keep you reading!

Charlie-See you this weekend...

Mirella-Hope you liked the expo as much as I did! Try the lemon cheesecake next time you go to Palais de Tokyo.

Haley-Tuesday was full of spills and screams and tears, and I thought I would die again, but it's Wednesday now and things are better. Thanks you for the sympathy!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Sometimes I take my time counting change at the grocery store just to get a reaction (shhhh...don't tell!) I know it's inexcusable– perhaps it's the firestarter in me.

Your writing is poetic, great post!

1:58 PM  

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