December 3, 2021
Dear Frenchly Readers,
Last week I asked you to find an error in my previous week’s Le Weekend. And though I got lots and lots of emails with suggestions as to what I got wrong, only one person got the right answer. His name is Don Husslein and he lives in Walnut Creek, California, where, strangely, my aunt Sally and uncle Tom also live, but they do not know Don. Don is retired and a woodworker and a Francophile and loves French art. We are sending him one of our cool Frenchly Holiday boxes that we created with French Wink as a reward. Check out his gift, here—you or someone you love can have one, too!
I don’t know if it’s motherhood (and still having a seven-year-old who wakes up in the night, sometimes more than once, with dreams about bad guys), or Covid fog or languishing or perimenopause or just the whole stress load of the crazy, violent, sad and depressing world right now, but sometimes I have these vacuous spaces in my brain where I literally type or say the exact wrong thing, even though I know the right answer. A perfect example was the first line of my Le Weekend two weeks ago. I wrote,
“The year I was in Paris for Thanksgiving is still etched in my mind: I remember going, rather like Tiny Tim dispatched by Scrooge to get the biggest prize turkey on the cart, to the little en plein air market around the corner from my apartment on the Avenue du Maine and looking for a dinde that would feed a motley crew of myself, my roommate Lorin, whatever friends we had invited, and Lorin’s parents and sister who had voyaged from Davis, California for the holiday.”
Now, obviously, Tiny Tim could not have possibly run off to get the prize turkey, and not-to-mention the turkey that was going to be a surprise for his family! There was an actual turkey boy!!! A boy whom Scrooge enlisted. And paid. To go fetch that huge beast. I know the scene by heart.
And to make this even more ridiculous, for some reason I thought I’d written a Le Weekend that was locked down. I didn’t think it was parfait, by any stretch, but maybe just….without glaring errors. Then, while I was making our Friday night pizza and having a self-satisfied glass of Pinot Noir, my husband, Dan, sat down with his verre of Bordeaux and read my Le Weekend in his email. I heard him clear his throat one more time than was pleasant. Then he piped up. “Ummm, Cait, I might have this wrong, but are you sure it was Tiny Tim who went and got the turkey?” And the tone of this voice was all, “Of course I don’t have this wrong, you total nincompoop.” “Oh my God,” I said.
To fully appreciate how much shock and embarrassment I felt, I will tell you that I have read that story every holiday season since I was little. For more years than I can count, I have been watching this amazing performance of George C. Scott as Scrooge. Some of the favorite lines in our house are when Scrooge first sees Marley’s ghost and proclaims that he may simply be “an undigested bit of beef,” “a blot of mustard,” “a crumb of cheese,” or “a fragment of an underdone potato.” In other words, some sort of gastrointestinal discomfort, not an actual ghost.
Then, my older son appeared in the kitchen. Now to make matters worse, he is actually rehearsing right now for a stage version of A Christmas Carol at the Portland Stage Company and he is playing, among other parts, THE TURKEY BOY. I asked him to look and see if he, like his father, noticed an error in my Le Weekend (I was still holding out the inane hope that Dan had it all wrong and Tiny Tim could suddenly run, or at least that few people people might notice if he did.) My son was on the screen for maybe five seconds and he said, “Oh my gosh, Mom? Tiny Tim!?”
(The stage has had to go virtual with their performance because of Covid craziness and will be broadcasting starting on December 18. Another disappointment in almost two years of lost funding and dreams deferred. But, seriously, if you can watch it, these actors are amazing—Dustin Tucker, for instance, plays a role on Showtime’s Dexter. Here’s the link.)
The upside: I am going to do more scavenger hunts with more prizes in my Le Weekends because, after my panic, it became sort of fun. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the prize Don is getting, our Frenchly gift box, check It out here—everything in it is made by small, family run companies in France and made of pure ingredients (the candles are made from soy and coconut oils, the shirt 100% cotton, the dish towel 100% cotton and made in a small mill in a small town near the Pyrenees, the foie gras from only 8 ingredients.) We at Frenchly chose these gifts with you in mind.
And: Before I forget, I loved corresponding with all of you about my errors! (Ha.) I loved hearing about you and where you live etc. So, with that in mind, we’ve created a survey to get to know you better. Here it is. You will get it again on Monday in your inbox. Please fill it out—we want to find more ways to connect with you and create community around our mutual love of French culture.
While you are at it, Frenchly.us has a new website. We all have been trying to navigate it and fix bugs this week, which has slowed me down from publishing new pieces. But check it out—we are proud of it.
Ok, so here’s what I’m reading ce weekend:
Frenchly has this absolutely hilarious piece published today by the playwright Craig Pospisil called, “The Play and the Andouillette”, about going out to dinner with a French theatre troupe to celebrate a play of his that was translated into French and then performed in Paris. He had misfortune of having ordered andouillette, which had a strange, barnyard taste. Read the entire story here, you won’t regret the laugh during this dark time of year.
I am reading a novel called The Art of Losing that came out in 2017 in France and has just been published in English. It is about the Algerian War and Algerian immigrants to France. I am not that far in, but if you want to read along and share your thoughts on it, I’d love to hear them.
And, here’s an interesting article in the Times about “wokisme” and gender pronouns and how they are being received in France.
What to watch:
If you haven’t yet caught any of these amazing Film noirs, you must. You will be transported! (And what better moment than now, as the holidays and Omicron barrel down on us?)
And if you haven’t watched The Beatles: Get Back yet, do. I can’t describe the joy our little family felt when we had made it through around eight hours of footage and we had earned that amazing rooftop performance by an absolutely incandescent John Lennon. (My younger son, after watching all of that material—drugs, swears, weird Yoko Ono—all of which seemed to go over his head, learned the f-bomb from John Lennon in the last thirty seconds. He now finds it hilarious to walk around our house shouting, “What the fuck in going on?”)
What to cook:
It’s getting cold out. We’re getting our tree this weekend (from a sustainably farmed, organic tree farm) and I always make a turkey tetrazzini with the leftover turkey and gravy I’ve frozen from the Thanksgiving holiday and we have chocolat chaud, which is never as good as the chocolat chaud at the Café de Flore. But I try.
We have to go for the tree this year at about 6 in the morning because the actor in our house will be rehearsing all day. But when he comes home, the tree will somehow be up, no matter how many new swearwords Dan will have taught the younger one, and we will settle into a nice long afternoon of fighting over who gets to put up which ornament, who spilled whose hot chocolate on the rug, and whether anyone can bear another moment of “Silver Bells,” the most played and worst Christmas song ever written.
Vin rouge will help.
Merry almost, whatever the almost is in your house!