Of foreskin and noodles

Theater class is just over and I’m sitting in the Métro on my way home. A goodlooking Italian woman who wears a lot of black eye-liner sits opposite me. She happens to be one of the participants in my theater group. Her rolling r’s and her loud voice and melodious intonation put her in the center of attention of the whole train. She’s been in France for 5 months and is still working diligently on improving her French. She has therefore bought a colorful little note-book in which she jots down all the new words and expressions that she hears or learns. I ask her to show me her list as I’m dying to see what new words she has learnt.

Me: What is that word, raquin?

Her: Don’t you know it? My colleague taught it to me, it means “cheap”, as in “cheapskate cheap”. You can say je suis raquin.

She is proud to teach me a new word in my native language. But I’m puzzled. I have never this word before. I hesitate between blaming her for not hearing her colleague properly and blaming her colleague from coming from some very remote village in deep Belgium.

A woman who sits next to her and who’s apparently been listening to the whole conversation without being invited to, looks at me and moves her head from left to right meaning “no”, this word does not exist”. It makes me feel better as for a second I almost thought that might be a word I didn’t know.

Me: Are you sure? Because I’ve never heard this word before. Are you sure you don’t mean radin?

Her: No, no I’m sure, my colleague is French so she knows.

Have you ever thought that the first person who says something to you is always right and if someone says something different later, they’re necessarily wrong?

We continue looking at the list.

Me: And why did you need to learn the word prépuce*, if I may ask? to read the rest of this entry click

Her: Well, it means cheap too. Je suis prépuce.

I’m more and more puzzled.

Me: Really? But I haven’t heard this word used in this context before. Are you sure your French colleague likes you?

Her: Oh yes, we get along very well. French women are not as bad as they say, you know.

The woman who uninvitedly (is that a word?) supported me earlier got off three stations ago and is now replaced by a chic Japanese woman wearing a grunge Hello Kitty outfit. There is no support to be had there.

Her: She also taught me a very good expression, I know what it means but I’m not too sure whether I can use it with my friends and colleagues.

Me: Oh yes? (I fear the worst is yet to come) Which one?

Her: It means to be lucky, I think. It’s J’ai le cul bordé de mouille.

Me: (…)

Unfortunately, she says it loudly, insisting on the m that starts the last word.

For the first time since Dalida died, my breath stops functioning for 10 seconds. Everybody around us is shitting their pants laughing and I start blushing as if it is all my fault.

If you are a French speaker, you’ll probably understand why I was breathless for a while there. If you don’t speak French or do not understand this expression and what her mistake meant, don’t count on me to translate it. I just won’t. But I encourage you to try it out on your French friends, see their reaction and tell us soon by leaving a comment right here.



*foreskin (but you probably knew that already…)


23 Responses

  1. Oh.Nooooooooo!

    I have a severe phobia of being that woman! I’m terrified people are going to teach me ‘some useful french phrases’ and then I find out later that it’s obscene.

    That poor lady! Did you put her right or is she still walking around somewhere in Paris making an arse out of herself?

  2. I want an ass full of moodles.

    I miss France. Sigh.

    Say hi to Katia and Kylie for me.

  3. Oh that poor deluded woman. And what a méchante colleague she has! How do you say “soulless bitch from hell” in French?

  4. I remember one time, before I’d really learned much French, I asked David how to say “cookie” and he answered me, so I promptly said:

    “Je veux une mandale.”

    He had the laugh of his life, the little bastard.

  5. The closest I’ve ever got to this was some Russian friends who taught another English-speaker that the word for “camel” was the word for “car” – and as the latter sucker would walk around Moscow marvelling at the number and age and madness of all the camels, everyone would piss themselves laughing, wondering if he thought he was in Uzbekistan by mistake…

  6. I have another russian translation story. some kids told a girl I met how to say “taking a shower” in russian. When her landlady rang her doorbell to give her her mail, she asked the girl why she hadn’t answered the door a little while earlier when she’d dropped by? The girl told her that she couldn’t come to the door because she was… um… f*cking.

  7. Brilliant. Reminds me of when I was a college student and I told my 75 year-old, artistocrat landlady that it wasn’t necessary for the cleaning lady to clean my room because it was a “bordel”. She looked at my with wide eyes and said “young lady, we do not speak like that in this house!” Here I thought it just meant “messy” 🙂

  8. OMFG…ROFLMAO. That colleague of her must love her to bits, eh?

  9. ROFLMFAO!!!! That was HILARIOUS! Ah dear,….

  10. Now you know why I stick to English!!!

  11. you’ll like my biggest mistake… said to my host mom and her 11 year old daughter over dinner. she was asking what food i liked/disliked (i had only arrived the day before). and i (stupidly) thought that all veggies were the same in french and english, that you just had to change the pronunciation.
    so i happily replied (as i had just eaten them and loved them at lunch earlier) in my best french accent:

    j’adore des “beets”

    imagine her face… la honte!

  12. I almost wet myself upon reading that 😉

    Haha Karina… J’a adore bites. I love it! Now I have to find France Gall singing “Les Sucettes” in order to satiate myself.

  13. 😀
    I translated that & got the general idea.
    Fits of laughter for a couple minutes now…
    So good.

  14. hello mr froggie remember me

  15. My french aunt told me (i live in fla.) it is slang for an American (post WW II) from an old french song maybe sung by Johnny Halliday(sp?)

  16. I’m never ever going to be able to say “le cul bordé de nouilles” without thinking about this now.

    On the other hand, I guess you could say you’re not particularly unlucky to be in the situation suggested by the modified version… so the meaning stays the same, doesn’t it? Hmm…

  17. […] first post I read on Frog with a Blog had a conversation between the blogger and some poor sap who’d been […]

  18. Trop drôle ! Just discovered your blog – I’ll be back 🙂

  19. OK, even after consulting the dictionaries (French-English and just English) I’m not really sure what that expression means – but I’m hazarding a guess. Now I’m wondering if I know anyone well enough to ask for confirmation . . . .

  20. Sablonneuse dear,

    You can only try it on 1) A husband or a lover (who will get very happy & excited when you say that to him or 2) to a close female friend you usually discuss sex with. That’s all, don’t try it with your boss, people you don’t really know, colleagues etc… or you may end up receiving a bad reputation in town.

  21. My husband is 80 and well and truly ‘past it’ – and he doesn’t understand much French anyway . There’s not much chance of me finding a lover now (sigh) so I asked my friend Yvette. I don’t think she saw beyond the ‘mistake for nouilles’ version (see email) so I’ll just have to wait and wonder what I’m missing.

  22. Priceless, I’m so scared someone’s going to do that to me! Did you hear the one where the earnest English professor giving a talk in Russia, decided it would be polite to address his audience as Ladies and Gentleman in Russian to start with, so got someone to tell him what it said on the lavatory doors? Suffice to say he had a shocker – in Russia they apparently label the doors “Water closets” and “Urinals”!

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