Being Timid about Down Payments

Another early morning for me and Sheila, but this one involved saying goodbye to Madame for a few days since she left the house for her trip at about the same time we did for our classes. The elevator at Sweet Briar was STILL broken, so Sheila and I bought our apples that we wanted for the small “pause” during our theatre class (in her case) and the break between courses (in my case). The machine actually gave me two apples for the price of one, so I figured it was going to be a good day… Rachel (one of the Northwestern girls that’s now in my Monday Paris III theatre class that I did my monologue in) mentioned she’d forgotten to get an apple from the vending machine and she didn’t want to walk all the way back down the stairs, so I gave her my freebee one. We talked about last night’s showing of La Critique de L’École des femmes and what things were different. I mentioned that the actors here completely turned their backs to the audience, and this was actually a reinforcement of the fourth wall, but I’d never seen it done that way. Even if the space was supposed to be closed off and the audience is never addressed, I’ve never seen actors not “cheat out” (turn toward the audience just a little bit so that they’re better heard) before… We got to watch some clips from other Molière plays for the second half of the class since Mme. Hersant was a little under the weather and didn’t want to do much more talking. We also read the director’s “pitch” for the show, and how he had intended to direct his actors for some things, and we had to decide if those things came through in the show, and they ultimately did. It was interesting to get to read something like that…

I stuck around the salle de lecture (what I’ve been calling the library all this time) for my break, had my apple, and chatted with Rouge, Joan, Eric and Max for a while. It was relaxing. Atelier d’Ecriture was moderately interesting. We started out going over the comparative adverbs as a review, and Mme. Mellado called on me to have me translate “In our group, there are not as many boys as girls.” I definitely know how to translate it, but I got so hung up with “is it more boys than girls, or more girls than boys…?” I kept getting confused, and it just went downhill from there. I eventually got the phrase right (Dans notre groupe, il n’y a pas autant de garçons que de filles), but it was definitely a bit like pulling teeth. Mme. Mellado had a similar, but not as difficult situation with another girl in our class already, and she’d asked her if she’d been drinking at lunch, so she asked me if I’d been drinking with her. I played into it and said that we hadn’t been drinking together… The actual lesson of the day was something I knew decently well already: the proper translation for “better.” English speakers mess this up ALL THE TIME because the “step up” from “good” (the adjective) is better… but it’s the same situation for “well” (the adverb). You have two different words for “better” in French, one adjective (meilleur, meilleure, meilleurs, meilleures since it agrees with the noun it’s attached to) and one adverb (mieux). The trick that you need to remember when you need to say that something is better is to faire marcher arrière (walk backwards) and to decide if you’re trying to say if something is “good” or “well,” then move forward and select your proper version of better. So say you’re eating some chicken, and it doesn’t taste so great, but you put some salt on it, and now it tastes better. Oh crap. Is your poulet meilleur or mieux?! Look at our trick, and faites marcher arrière… would the chicken be bon (good) or bien (well)? Le poulet est bon… Okay… so meilleur is the “better” that comes after bonLe poulet est meilleur! Let’s try it again. Your sister wants to be a singer, but she’s tone deaf, so she started taking vocal lessons. She sings better now. Uh oh… does she sing meilleure or mieux?! Faites marcher arrière… We’ll lie and say she sang bien (well) before… and mieux is the “better” that follows bien… donc, Elle chante mieux maintenant. So now we have a bigger problem, how do we emphasize that something is much better? That depends on your “better…” Meilleur and beaucoup are sworn enemies and can’t be in the same sentence together… but that makes logical sense, doesn’t it? Beaucoup is a translation of “much,” after all… so now we need a synonym for beaucoup… Let’s use bien! So to say “much better” in adjective form, you will always use bien meilleur (but don’t forget your agreement)! So what do you think we would use to say “much better” when we have to deal with mieux? Using bien is a good guess, and you’d be right, but you can use beaucoup as well! To say “much better” in adverb form, you can use EITHER beaucoup mieux or bien mieux. Now we need to step it up even more… how do you say “so much better?” Big hint, we’ve been over this. You use tellement, and ONLY tellement. To say something is so much better in adjective form, you will always use tellement meilleur (remember your agreement)! When you want to say so much better with an adverb, you will always use tellement mieux. Other random things we learned: Nothing will ever be sur la télé unless it’s actually sitting on top of your television. If you watch something on TV (or hear it on the radio), you have to use à la télé or à la radio. There’s one exception, if you’re going to get specific and name the channel (le chaîne) you saw something on, THEN you use sur. So “yes, I saw that on the TV” is “oui, je l’ai vu à la télé” but “I saw that on MTV” is “je l’ai vu sur MTV.” A nap is une sieste, and to TAKE a nap is faire une sieste but you have to be careful with how you use it. It’s impossible to faire une sieste in the morning, you can only do that in the afternoon, after lunch. So if you’ve got a 7AM class, and you come home at 10AM to take a nap, you have to use faire un somme, and yes I did write that in my notebook as “a nap for the morning.”

Sheila and I headed downstairs to wait for Kyle so we could meet up for a late lunch. We knew Charlotte was in the area since she was trying to get a hold of Sheila, and we randomly thought that she might be with Kyle, and it would be nice if she was… and they walked in together! It was so nice to see her… I forgot how much I missed hanging out with her in Tours all the time! Kyle wanted to go to Fnac to buy concert tickets for Swedish House Mafia, so we went with him. He had to go talk to Mme. Grée after that, and the rest of us were hungry, so we headed to MacDo since it was close by. Since I hadn’t had a real lunch… it was time for me to face my fears and attempt to order a burger without the bread… I tried specializing my order at one of the bornes (the computers you can use to order your food instead of going to the counter, so long as you can pay with your card), but you couldn’t specialize your sandwich to the point of sans pain (without bread), so I had to cancel the order and go to the counter anyway. On the menu, it says that a Royale cheese meal is 6,50… but mine somehow was only two euro, so I thought there was some kind of mistake (Sheila told me there wasn’t). It definitely took a while to get the sandwich, but it didn’t have the bun, and I got a fork with it, so I was happy. It tasted better than I remember Quarter Pounders tasting back home… We headed back to Sweet Briar with the intention of meeting up with Kyle and finding a place to go explore, but he’d just left by the time we got there. Charlotte wanted to buy the boots I was wearing (the ones I found for 10 euro near Helmut Newcake last week), so I figured out how to get there from Sweet Briar, which would also involve taking ligne 11 which Sheila and I hadn’t done yet (Mission: Take Every Line of the Metro is almost complete), and then something else dawned on me… that’s the area of town that the tattoo shop is located in… I ran upstairs to double check the address and get walking directions from the metro stop, jot down the exact quote I wanted, and we headed out. There was a chance that Charlotte would actually get a tattoo with me, but the idea was definitely that I would get my tattoo while she was here, since that worked with the “pact” we’d made back in Tours.
It was raining pretty decently by the time we got to the République metro stop, so we stopped by the tiny shop with the boots, and Charlotte and Sheila both bought the same black boots I did in their own respective sizes, so we’re triplets now. As we walked in the direction of the tattoo shop, I noticed that my right toes felt a little wet and cold… maybe the sole had started to separate from the pleather part of the boot and rain water was starting to seep in. Charlotte shrugged it off. That’s happened to a pair of $60 boots she had, and it’s a superglue fix, so I figured I’d take care of it when I got home. Kustom Tattoo is a decent walk from the metro stop (24 Avenue de la République 75011), but it’s an easy walk since it’s a straight shot. As soon as we saw the neon signs, Charlotte and I both got nervous. We went inside and set our bags down on a small bench right inside the door, and I noticed a tariff sign (prices and information). It said that the minimum price would be 100 euro, but that included the 50 euro fee for all of the sterilization, the inks… all sorts of things. You’d need to make an appointment to actually have the tattoo done, and you’d have to put down a down payment. If you cancelled the appointment too close to the actual date, or you didn’t show, you’d lose what you put down. Because of the price, and how small her tattoo would have been, Charlotte backed out… but 100 euro sounded like a good price for what I wanted. If I made an appointment and did the down payment… there’d be no turning back… The manager saw us, and Charlotte asked me if I wanted to have her go up to the counter with me to talk to him in case I got nervous. I said I did. So we went up… and I kept stammering. I explained in French that I was a little shy, which is odd and ridiculous for me since this wasn’t even my first tattoo. The manager laughed, and I couldn’t get much past that out. Charlotte prompted me to continue in English. “I have to make an appointment to have this done?” The manager said that I did, and he said that in English. There was someone a little further away from the counter that laughed at me for being so nervous, but the rest of our conversation continued in French. The manager asked me what I wanted, and I explained that I wanted a line of text, and I wanted it written in pieces along the right side of my torso, maybe two or three words of the line at a time in a stack, starting about an inch and a half underneath my bra, ending just above the top of the waist band of my jeans. He nodded and asked if I had the quote with me, so I pulled out my notebook and showed him (I’m keeping you in the dark on purpose, you’ll see when I post pictures, but I’ll tell you it’s a Molière quote for now). His eyes widened, he chuckled, and said “that’s a good one” in English. He then explained to me in French that because my tattoo would be covering a decent area, and the intricacy and size of the text could vary (since I had no idea how I wanted it to look and wanted to leave that up to the artist), the price could be anywhere from 80-160 euro. The only appointment left for this weekend was at 8PM on Saturday, which is technically when they close, but they do take people right at eight. My project could take anywhere from an hour to two hours (since we still have to decide exactly what it looks like). Since Charlotte’s only here for this weekend… it’s now or never (not really, but those were her words). I took the appointment, and made my down payment of 50 euro. We left the shop after that, and decided to take Charlotte back to our place so we could feed her since we knew we had enough curry to do so, and she had no idea what she was doing for dinner. I spent the next half an hour hyperventilating saying things like “Oh my god, I’m getting a tattoo on Saturday” or “I’m going to be sick” or “Why is this freaking me out? I already have a tattoo!” The one I already have is on my left torso, and it sits right  above the waistband of my jeans. That part didn’t hurt so much, but there was a part where the artist had to stretch my skin up over my bottom ribs, and I definitely held my breath through that bit. More than likely, this tattoo will actually have a line or two ON my ribs. Someone remind me to take at least some Motrin before my appointment… We know I can’t be drinking, not that I’d want to be.
We had our curry and rice at eight, and we had the bottle of Beaujolais with it. Charlotte’s not much of a drinker, so she was a little tipsy by the end of the bottle. Because she admitted she’d never really been DRUNK drunk, Sheila and I thought we should take it upon ourselves to get her decently drunk, and when we mentioned how delicious that white wine punch we’d had a while go was, Charlotte said she’d like to try it, so Sheila handled the dishes while Charlotte and I ran to Carrefour to get a bottle of white wine, a carton of tropical fruit juice, some 7-Up, another bottle of Beaujolais for tomorrow night’s dinner, and gummy bears since Charlotte wanted them. We played King’s Cup with the punch (quote of the night goes to Charlotte: “Where’s your nose?”), which was delicious as always. Rouge wasn’t kidding when she said it was dangerous the first time I made it… I drank it a little too fast. It got to the point where my stomach was so full, it hurt to laugh. My boyfriend Skyped me while we were still trying to finish off the punch, so we “made him a part of the party” until my computer died. Once we were done (with Charlotte successfully inebriated for the first time), Sheila took off to go meet up with a friend of hers from our school that is studying abroad in Germany (she’s in Paris on a trip), then Charlotte and I hung out for a little while longer before I walked her to the Porte Maillot metro stop so she could go back to her youth hostel for the night once we’d both decently sobered up enough to walk around. Once I got home, I texted Sheila what nocturnal bus lines she’d need to take to get home, then I headed to bed around one. All in all, I’d say it was a good day…
Faites votre devoir, et laissez faire aux dieux. Cornielle: Horace

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