I remember the first day of French Conversation. It was college, 1983, and it started out perfectly, with the most adorable French teacher. She was here for a year, from France. She was young, maybe mid-late 20's, with big doe eyes, straight, shoulder length brown hair.
I dont remember her name. But, I sure do remember her outfit that first day. I have always loved, loved nautical stuff...and I can tell you with detail about the sailor outfit she wore, including the white tights, white pumps, navy sweater, it was tres chic.
I left that first day, excited for the semester ahead. It was a class that met 5 days a week, and with an authentic French professor, I knew I was going to really blossom with my conversation skills (it's all about the conversation, no?)
Day 2, and...ooh la la...maybe it was the college culture influencing my thought processes, but all I could think, was, "Wow, I guess she hooked up with someone and never made it home." Because, there she was, in the SAME EXACT OUTFIT. She was very demure, you know, she looked like a little French doll....never letting on that, she stays the night with people unexpectedly. Hmmmm.
Day 3 came, and there was an elephant in the room,,,, an elephant that looked like a French girl in a nautical ensemble that included white tights, white pumps, and a navy sweater. By now, her hair was greasy....I mean, she obviously had found some hot new American guy, and apparently could only pull herself away to teach this class, because she surely wasnt going home to change clothes or even take a shower.
Ill never forget day 4. Yes, same outfit, same white tights, and now, she had braids..messy braids. If she was in the midst of some hot love affair, couldnt they at least take it to the shower, because braiding your hair does not hide how greasy it has gotten, not at all.
Day 5 was like a breath of fresh air...clean hair, new outfit....and I wondered. Did she break away for the sake of hygiene? Had she been spoken to for letting her professorial responsibilities slide? Perhaps the fling was over...I wondered sadly.
Well, as the semester continued, I realized, that her appearance had less to do with a torrid love life of one night stands, and more to do with the French culture. Specifically, the cultural practice of not bathing regularly.
Yeah, I know. There went my whole ideal of this elegant language. The people dont shower (or wash their hair, or shave.)
I was 17, and the thought of going a day without a shower was not in my reality. I guess if you were stranded in an airport or something overnight, you wouldnt be able to shower, but....yuck! And, by the way, showering always included washing my hair, etc.
Fast forward to some decades later, and I might as well just pull out some white tights and braid my hair. I mean, my showering frequency, on a good week, is every 2-3 days. Seriously.
I realize Im going to lose friends with this post. It's not OC Housewives-ish to look greasy. Some of you will forego the hugs for a wave from a distance, I do know that. But it's ok. Im a mom now. I care less about what people think, and more about meeting the needs of my children...making lunches, folding laundry, taxi rides to schools and doctors appointments, lots of cuddling, and spending hours with my daughter finding all the Justin Beiber videos on youtube.