Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hot to trot

If I were a betting woman, I would have won a small bundle this week when Ken and I attended our first French harness race at the Hippodrome de Bouilhaguet in Miramont-de-Guyenne.
Nearly 30 years ago, when we were first dating, we went to the races at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif., and I bet a crisp one-dollar bill on an Argentine beauty named Captain Fuego. He came in first at 30-to-1 odds. That sweet victory was my first and only bet on the ponies.
It took us about 10 minutes to find the racing form after we arrived at the Hippodrome. The betting windows seemed daunting and the race was about to begin, so Ken and I each picked a horse and driver just for fun.
My pick, Voila du Dropt, had an unimpressive three disqualifications and two third places in her last five races. But she came in first, and I enjoyed gloating rights for a half hour.
Two races later, Ken also picked the winner, Val de Villetot, whom he liked because the driver was the race's only woman.
As we contemplated the racing form, and rain clouds, we munched on frites and watched les enfants play in the bounce house, which included a bouncy horse.
La pluie was coming down, so we decided to stay for only one more race. I played it a bit safer, picking Tobiaz Girl because I liked her name and the green silks on her driver. She was predicted to place, and instead won handily.
On the walk back to the car, passing ponies waiting their turn to trot, Ken and I listed the treasures our imaginary winnings could have procured. Eh bien, la prochaine fois, peut-être ... next time, perhaps.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ooh la la! No need to apologize

I sometimes find myself speechless. Although my French skills are coming along petit à petit, I often stutter and blunder my way through answering the most simple questions.
Ce que vous êtes jusqu'à ce week-end?
My calendar may be full of things to do, but instead I shrug and smile; the simple words for a bike ride (randonnée à vélo) and attic sales (vide greniers) nowhere to be found.
Rarely, however, have I found myself so utterly speechless as when Ken and I returned home after a two-day trip to the Perigord and found a bottle of wine (a good bottle!) and note by our front door.
I am sorry that you see my body but I love do the NATURIST at the sun. Please accept my excuses. Your wife is pretty.
Our neighbor, two houses away, likes to sunbathe au naturel. I had caught a glimpse or two, but, I swear, I hadn't screamed or stared. I thought I had been quite cool.
Embarrassed? No!
Offended? Hell no!
Impressed? You bet!
That our naturist neighbor had felt the need to apologize left me embarrassed.
Alas, no gift can go unacknowledged, and I spent the next two hours agonizing about the proper response. Should we crack open the bottle and raise our glasses to our neighbor, whose name we didn't even know, the next time he bared his soul and bottom? Invite him for an aperitif? Remind him of the importance of sunscreen?
I truly was speechless.
Meanwhile, Ken took charge. He knocked on our neighbor's door, introduced himself, thanked him for the fine wine, and assured him that it was n'est pas nécessaire to apologize. 
When he returned with our neighbor's name and bio, I finally relaxed. 
Seems like a nice guy. I hope we get to see more of him.