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March 17, 2011

Ring a ding ding

I thought, after nearly six months here, I had this place figured out. I had tamed France. I was no longer getting flustered with simple daily interactions and social protocol. I had even lost my fear of making phone calls.

But ever since the Dude got here, my other-ness is made even more conspicuous due to all the American I now speak with my new-found companion whilst running errands. And now France is rejecting us. Specifically, French grocery stores are rejecting us.

This is tragic, for grocery shopping is my favorite pastime out here in Cow Country. Last week, on the Dude's first full day in Digoin, I wanted to share with him the joy that is browsing the aisles and gazing in wonder at all the bizarre and magnificent wares on display: all that pink toilet paper, the canned livers of various beasts, the entire aisle devoted solely to yogurt...

It was all going really well (the Dude was sufficiently impressed by all the quality 3E wine that's available) until we were about to check out. As the Dude passed through the security sensors they screamed in protest. He dutifully opened his bags, took off his jacket and turned out his pockets to show he was no thief. But the sensors rang relentlessly.

Our checkout lady called security, and a man arrived to question the Dude. Evidently unsatisfied, the guard led him away from me to the LeClerc Back Room, and I was left wondering if I'd ever see my intended again. A few minutes later he returned, confused and mortified. You would be too if you were led to the LeClerc Back Room and asked to drop trou.

Since then we've avoided LeClerc and instead frequented our other supermarché option, Intermarché. (Our à pied lifestyle means that we can only buy as much as we can carry, thus necessitating frequent trips to the grocer's.) The Dude never had a problem there until Tuesday night, when the security sensor went wild as he tried to pass. He again opened his bag, turned out his pockets and insisted as best he could in his adopted language that everything on his person was rightfully his. The checkout lady passed everything he gave her through the sensor, asking him to try again after each go and making the alarm ring incessantly.

A supervisor abandoned her register to investigate, and discovered it was Dude's wallet that was the offending item. She stood between the sensor arms as she meticulously went through his money and various other personal items. The siren seemed to be getting louder as it rang and rang and rang, and everyone stared and stared and stared.


Now Dude was pissed. So when we needed to get beer and another package of cheese for the raclette birthday party I threw him last night, we went to the friendly neighborhood Spar, which has no sensors with which to mock us. I realized I had forgotten to get dessert earlier, so I sent him home with the beer while I trotted back to Intermarché. I realized about 5 meters outside the store that I had still had the cheese with me, and the cashier at the friendly neighborhood Spar had neglected to give me a receipt.

I entered, and looked around in a panic for someone I could talk to about my pre-purchased fromage. There were no employees around but butchers and cashiers, all of whom were attending registers six-deep with rush-hour customers. I figured that it made no sense to stand in line just to tell them about my cheese, and then to go get what I needed and stand in line again. So after much internal turmoil I picked up a gâteau and headed over there.

As I approached him, I got extremely nervous, and thus turned beet red and started to sweat. "I have buyed this already at the store who is called Spar," I said. "Do you have a receipt?" he asked. "That is with my boyfriend, which has already returned to the house." I realized that this is exactly what a thief would say, and I got even redder and sweatier. "Why didn't you speak with someone when you entered the store?" he queried. "I didn't see no one and everyone like you had the appearance of being very occupied," I stammered. "I very excuse myself."

He eyed me suspiciously but in the end decided to let me get away with it.

The only clear solution to this problem is to make our next trip to market in the nude.


  1. And if you do that....

    I promise there will be a special Award for Shopping in the Nuddy for you at Garlic on Tuesday!

    All the best


  2. Oh Keith... You know not how seriously I take dares and how badly I covet your awards. If I get arrested, I'm calling you.

    Sac: Saaaaaaaaaac? (insert bewildered, wide-eyed stare here)

  3. Hm. By any chance, was his wallet from the Gap or Old Navy?

    In my experience as a bookseller, sometimes clothes still have sensors that you have to clip off.

    (And I can only imagine the situation...that was just so horribly funny!)

    -Barb the French Bean

  4. Oh my, you and the Dude have been run through the ringer at French grocery stores! I agree that (in theory) food shopping in France is fun - when the boy came to visit I took him to Carrefour so he would be awed by the cheese aisle ;)

    Also, I laughed out loud at your "No need to watch Les Experts tonight, folks. We've got the real deal!" paragraph. Always a pleasure to read your blog.

  5. Ninsky!!! Stop shopkifting in France!! I beg you!!!