Thursday, June 28, 2007

La Honte in Le Havre

Picture this, my dear readers, blogging friends: a darkened room where only my boyfriend, his father and I sit staring intently at the television screen (OK, check that, apparently the boy was dozing off...), watching Trois Couleurs : Rouge (I'm on a Kieslowski kick, I know), lounging on red leather chairs that look like they've launched directly off the Star Trek Enterprise. We're nearing the end of the film, it's after midnight, and I'm getting pretty tired. We spent the day walking around "central" Le Havre, where my boy's father lives, visiting the local bookshop La Galerne, which I love (and of course purchasing two books while there; I'm incapable of leaving a bookshop without a new acquisition...), as well as making a short drive over to Honfleur for a brief visit. We had greasy Domino's pizza for dinner earlier in the evening, believe it or not (yep, that's right, here in France) -- none of those fancy meals for us; we were simply too lazy this time around, and I didn't have the necessary ingredients (or recipes for that matter) to throw anything culinarily appetizing together. And, under most circumstances, his father is pretty laid-back and cool about that kind of thing. He's not too exigeant. And, well, a little pizza every once in a while never hurt anyone, right? Um, yeah, right.

That is, unless you're ME. Wendy-dear, you ain't seen nothing yet! I think I've got you beat, I'm afraid. At least for recent hilarity. On an embarrassment scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I'm-going-to-crawl-in-a-hole-and-never climb-back-out-I-swear-I'm-so-humiliated, this is a swinging 11. When it comes to embarrassing experiences -- really humiliating ones -- I think I must be the queen! And what is it about this sort of thing happening when you least expect it? And what is it about our bodies being completely out of our own control -- betraying us at the most inopportune of moments?

Yes, that's right, somehow my body betrayed me in front of my boyfriend's father. Late at night, in front of an intense, psychological film. I honestly thought I was fine; I didn't even see it coming... But when do we ever in circumstances like this? All right, what I'm getting at, if you can't read between the lines -- and because you're going to MAKE me write it here, aren't you? As if I haven't humiliated myself ENOUGH?! -- is that I passed gas. And unfortunately was not able to disguise it by blaming it on my boyfriend or the dog. My boy's father doesn't have any household pets. To my chagrin.

Needless to say, after that most horrible of faux-pas on Saturday night, my own eyes bulging out of my head while I stared at the television screen for the remaining 15 minutes of Rouge, not daring to glance right or left or to take in any reactions, I swallowed my pride and slunk up to our room on the top floor and fell into bed. I won't say that I cried, necessarily, but I didn't have the most restful of nights. OK, OK -- I know you're going to tell me it's no big deal. But just keep in mind that up until now my boy's father has, in most cases, made it clear that he quite likes me, aside for my over-sensitive streak which flares up from time to time. I enjoy spending time with my boy and his father, and in spite of the blistering, painful pangs that resonate in his mother's absence since her passing, we usually get along really well and even have pretty stimulating conversations. He's always really lovely with me, he never makes me feel ill at ease, and he even gives my boy a hard time when he's not helpful or complimentary with regard to my cuisine -- or my attire. In a word, he's a sweetheart. And I seriously do not want him to think less of me or to wonder about how I was raised...

So this -- I mean, really! WHY in God's NAME did this have to happen?! Of course, we're all human, and I kept telling myself that over and over again in my head Saturday night into Sunday morning. And maybe, in a sense, it should put me more at ease, right? Like, now we can all just be ourselves, naturally. (Ha ha -- yeah, right!) Again, ironically enough, my boy didn't even hear this happen, he was so dead-to-the-world, so when I managed to recount the incident to him after waking up the next morning, he was of course falling all over himself laughing. And he couldn't help but comment: "I think I might have sort of heard you, but then I thought to myself that you couldn't have done that."

Alrighty then. Way to help me recover myself and my composure.

Going down to breakfast on Sunday was no easy task -- but he did try to put me at ease, and here's hoping that all's *ahem* nearly forgotten.

Since the weekend, we had my boy's father over for dinner at our place, and I tried to make up for my lack of poise and elegance by throwing together one of his family's favorite dishes, une pintade aux pommes et lardons, with strawberries for dessert. As daunting as it may sound, it's actually really easy to make -- you just cook the sliced apples over the stove in a large pan with some butter and cinnamon, rub some olive oil, salt and spices onto the pintade, then put the bird in a Dutch-oven type casserole (I actually use a Römertopf, in terra cotta -- a wonderful gift from my boy's mother) with the shallots and a wee bit of water at the bottom... I left it for about an hour at 200° Celsius, but it may need a wee bit longer; the bird didn't seem fully cooked, so I put it in for another 10 minutes or so. After it's finished cooking, you can sauté up the lardons in a pan, add these to the cooked apples, and serve. See, easy as (apple) pie! And a perfect balance of sucré-salé.

We cracked open the one bottle of Rioja wine we had brought back from Spain last March (we would have brought back more if it weren't for those damn new European liquid-on-plane regulations) and it was gone in no time, which made it clear that we had made a good choice, but definitely hadn't bought enough.

I think beau-père was suitably pleased. But as to recovering my dignity, the jury's still out on that one.

* Photo of Le Havre's Port de plaisance courtesy of Photos-de-villes.com.

20 comments:

Wendz said...

I am picturing you sitting there in the dark and letting rip...and killing myself laughing. This was a "Spitting Steak Baguette on the Keyboard' moment.

You poor thing....yes I'd want to crawl under the sofa if that happened to me...I am trying to picture doing that in front of Martin's Mom (who I haven't yet met) and failing miserably.

Oh dear - well he won't mention it I am sure, so try to forget it and if it enters your mind, push it away and hum a pretty tune.

Aralena said...

Alice, you are too funny! although i'm thinking that at the time funny was the last word you'd use to describe the mortification, you know that in a couple of months (years?) you'll look back on this story and crack up. but i would have felt exactly the same way had it happened to me.

i think tu t'es bien rattrapée with the pintade, however, so not to worry! :)

frog with a blog said...

OMG, how hilarious! This is the funniest story I've read this week. I especially like the title: la honte in Le Havre.
But darling, you are so pretty that even though I saw you vomit all over the place, I'd still think it was stylish.

Jennifer said...

I'm sorry to laugh at your misfortune, but that is just hilarious! :)

jchevais said...

Feeling a bit of relief now?... ;-)

So the strawberries weren't very dangerous, I guess.

amy said...

Oh, Alice... This might not make you feel better, but if that's the most embarassing thing that's ever happened to you, you have led a charmed life!

President Bush the elder once vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan, but he still manages to hold his head up in public.

The Late Bloomer said...

Well, maybe so -- you're probably onto something there, Amy. But didn't you like my take on it? Just a little? I couldn't resist sharing my shame -- that's what blogging has done to me!

Heavens yeah, I imagine there's always much worse that could happen, if you put it in perspective, but trust me, it was still pretty excruciating at the time!

Emily said...

Too funny!

Halley said...

Ahhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha oh no! HOw awkward – I think I probably would have reacted the same way. Stare intently at the tv screen with cheeks burning, to embarrassed to look in either direction...at least you were with two males though!!

ColourMeCrazy said...

Hehe - that's hilarious! But don't you just hate it that you couldn't blame it on a pet or someone else??!! Which is usually what I would do!

Well, don't worry, I'm sure your it will all be forgotten in about...2 years! Or it will probably come back to haunt you time and again over family dinners ;-)

AuthorMomWith Dogs said...

I usually go with it when something like that happens. Life, you know...

You could choose funny and say: "Wow, where'd that come from?" And laugh.

You could go for demure and simple: "Excuse me."

You could go for feel sorry for me:
"Oh, I am so embarrassed!"

You could go for gross-out: "That was nothing. I can burp the whole alphabet." And then commence.

The possibilities are endless. All by way of saying, in the scheme of things, that experience is all part of getting to know each other and getting to feel comfortable in a relationship. He sounds like a good man.

Gillian Young said...

Hilarious! These moments are the best because we all have them, but still manage to be horrified when they happen.

In fact, just this morning I was straining myself not to fart in yoga. Managed not to, but I've had several classes where people relax and let one loose!

Linda said...

Even knowing it is normal doesn't make it less embarrassing. I'm sure everyone has had at least one such moment. Have you read www.dooce.com? She talks about it all the time and knew when her now husband let one loose on their first date that he was the one for her. She's alot more open about it than I am. I'm sure one of these days the father will do the same. It's just a fact of nature.

The Late Bloomer said...

Wendy, I figured you'd get a kick out of this! I've moved on, I guess, although I can't help but wonder how awkward it will be the next time I see him again...

But I guess I'm already cracking up about the situation, as you said Aralena -- I told another friend about it this weekend, and I couldn't stop myself from laughing, obviously, in spite of the embarrassment. She could totally relate too. I guess there are more of us who are really "human" out there than I thought, huh?!

Oh, and Frog, my dear, flattery will get you nowhere... ;)

Jenn, as you well know, I think I'm going to be wondering about what is dangerous and what isn't for a long time going foward!

Authormom, I think I did manage to whisper out a "pardon" -- I forgot to mention that in my post! -- but I don't know if it did any good. But one does try to be as polite as possible in these situations, particularly in France.

Gillian, I imagine in working out that when one does completely *relax* there is always that risk... I haven't been back to a gym or a class in so long, that I haven't had the experience recently. I've been doing that kind of thing at home! So at least in that case I'm fairly safe.

Oh, and Linda, you've got that right... Like I said, at least he knows how "human" I am now! More than necessary, I should think. I'm just hoping it WON'T come up in any family conversations or situations, like colourmecrazy mentioned -- my boy better not bring it up!!

DestinationMetz said...

Oh you poor thing! That's my worst nightmare especially since Polly Platt has drilled into me how uppity French in-laws are supposed to be (from what I can gather though, she's dead wrong in 2007!). If it makes you feel any better I somehow found myself at a party of a celebrity chef who accidently let one rip, and he looked so embarrassed. And actually during one of our first nights together, I did one in bed when I was with Christophe and I was mortified beyond belief. I found out months later he'd never heard it!

Back to the film though- did you see Three Colours White? I was always so confused by the ending with Julie Dephy's hand signals...

The Late Bloomer said...

Rochelle, you know, it's funny -- I saw all of the three films, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge about 10 years ago or so, and I know I really liked Rouge the best, with Bleu closely following behind. For some reason or another I didn't like Blanc as much, although in general I like Julie Delpy... Maybe it was the irony of the film, but I may have missed out on some of the nuances given the fact that I saw it so early on in my time in France.

When I watched Rouge again I picked up on a lot of things that I'm sure I didn't see those years back, and I'm pretty sure that would probably be the case with Blanc too. So I'm going to have to watch it again to let you know! Because I can't remember the details now... I have the boxed DVD set at home right now, so I'll get back to you on that!

Anonymous said...

Well my mum is visiting and my boyfriend "passed gas", as you say, and my boyfriend immediately said "I didn't do it" to which my mum replied, "had you said 'what was that? instead of 'I didn't do it' maybe nobody would have thought you did it...." Yes he is embarrassed, but I don't think my mum will carry it with her forever. It is just one of those silly things. You are hilarious!
Delphine

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Ah I have fond memeories of Honfleur in het rain.adn goodness isn't it rainy here at the moment. I shouldnt worry about a petite pete (sorry can not for life of me find accents on new keyboard!!)as in small fart, the French are very umm bodily!!!Have you see the fim the long engagement where the aunt says " Ah a dogs fart always makes my heart sing!" C'est tres bizzarre!

joy suzanne said...

Oh merde, that's funny! Oh god, I laughed really hard there...

Heeeeee.

Anonymous said...

Why worry about f*rting? I read that ther's poop on the sidewalks there!