Perhaps stories about bedding is too much about nothing when talking about life in France. I wish my search for them could be over and done with. It just goes on… and on.
Life in France: Sheets
My life in France this Saturday started out so well. Earlier than usual I was up and out to the weekend market. Claude, the cheese man, presented me with a new cheese to sample. By noontime I had made all my market purchases, including ruffled tops and loose-fitting linen pants on sale for 15 euros each! “Bo-Bo” style is “in”.
In the afternoon, my friend Geoffrey called for his daily update on my whereabouts. He wanted to lead me in his borrowed van to visit his friend, Pascal, who was going to check out Sally’s latest malady — a skipping engine. I had discovered there might be a problem with Sally’s transmission during my ride back from Nimes on Thursday. With a trip planned to the train station this week to pick up my house guest, I didn’t want to take any chances with Sally breaking down. (More about Sally, read here … Geoffrey had stuff in his house he want to sell and I wanted stuff for my new apartment. I wanted a car, he had more than one. It seemed to be working out great for both of us…)
Geoffrey and I met at his favorite cafe/bar, Le Provencal, then took off for a “quick” stop at the nearby Monoprix store for … more sheets. I still needed bottom sheets for the guest room.
Finding there was only one choice for bottom sheets for the odd-sized beds — i.e. top sheets to tuck in to fit — I resigned myself to paying 59 euros for the pair (approximately $80). Eyeing the purchase price with total amazement, as only a man can do, Geoffrey led be back up the main street of town to pick up a gas can at his house.
Why a gas can?
Geoffrey borrowed a van so that I could pick up my friend at the train, just in case Sally was seriously disabled. Gas was not included.
Gas can in hand, we picked up Sally in her underground parking space and drove to the station for petrol. Then to the free parking lot behind the high school to find the borrowed van.
You want me to drive this? Really!
Arriving at the high school parking lot, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Among rows of “regular-looking” cars, vans and trucks was this …
“You must be kidding! I shouted. “I’m not picking up anyone in this!”
Then I started to backtrack on my story about Sally’s problems.”Maybe the engine wasn’t skipping after all. Perhaps my foot slipped off the pedal.”
Geoffrey wasn’t falling for any of my new claims and insisted we continue with the plan to visit his friend for Sally’s checkup. It wasn’t until he started filling the gas tank that I saw the humor in it all. Did I mention his wardrobe choice for the day? AKA “disguise”?
Promise, I don’t make this stuff up. It just happens. That’s why Geoffrey was put into my life here in France. He’s a book!
Life in France: Sheets
Arriving at his friend Paschal’s house, outside Uzes, Geoffrey announced he hadn’t told anyone we were coming to visit. In fact, he said with a sly wink:
“They might be in bed.”
Without going into too much detail, Geoffrey explained the Saturday ritual for many people living in this part of France. They awaken early to go to the Saturday market, they shop, they drink, they eat a leisurely lunch. Then they go home to bed.
Great. Now I was committed to leaving Sally in the driveway and riding back to Uzes in THAT van. But wait! There’s Paschal heading our way
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Even better, after giving Sally a spin around the neighborhood, Paschal said she was fine… “probably just dirty spark plugs.”
Paschal not only relieved my concern about Sally’s transmission, he fixed the window on the driver’s side of the car. It would go up and down. Or maybe it always worked? Can you believe I never tried to put the window down myself? I took Geoffrey’s word that it was broken. What was I thinking? All those times I wrenched my back opening the car door to pick up a ticket at the car park, I could have opened the window?
Back to Sheets
Geoffrey and I had finished our mission with enough time for him to lead me to the warehouse store we’d visited. For sheets. Surely I could find flat sheets for less than $80! Always happy to oblige me, Geoffrey scooted off in the blue van and I took off in Sally, heading for the discount store. He joined because I had totally forgotten how to find the store again.
In the sheet section of the store, Geoffrey witnessed for himself my confusion with bedding and sheets. He joined in on my search for top sheets to fit the 80×200 cm beds. The best we came up with was a pair of red sheets, sized 180×290 cm — obviously too big, but the smallest size available. Then we looked for pillowcases to match.
“Why do you need pillowcases to match?” Geoffrey queried, proudly handing me packages with grey pillowcases.
“Because I do“, I said, taking the red sheets out of his hands. “Now we need to find grey sheets.”
With that, I swear to you, I heard Geoffrey’s heels click as he turned around and headed for the front of the store.
“Where are you going?” I asked.:
Geoffrey, in his most polite English, gentlemanly voice replied: “To catch a breath.“
This, my friends, is the closest I’ve come to losing my composure in public in France. I continued chuckling all the way to the checkout counter to pay 30 euros ($40) for the pair of grey sheets.
Not a bad day afterall. A savings on sheets and a great story to boot.
Stay tuned: House tour…