Friday, May 4, 2012

Attention a la Merde!

When I was 21, I spent 6 months in Paris.  One of my favorite things about living there was learning the quirks of the French language.  After many years of learning the stilted "La plume de ma tante" conversations one practices in a classroom, it was refreshing to hear how actual French speakers put words together.

For example, I was walking down the sidewalk on a small residential street one day when a construction worker wielding a wheelbarrow made his way toward me.  I was so interested in the construction and the items in the worker's wheelbarrow that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.  As I moved to pass the worker, he alerted me to one of the many "gifts" left by loving dog owners on the streets and sidewalks of Paris thusly:

"Attention a la merde!"

Basically, watch out for the shit.

It struck me as remarkably elegant, honest, and amusing.  No phrase in English could manage such politeness and profanity at the same time.  At least none that I can think of.

I was reminded of this yesterday when LO and I went for a walk at the park across the street.  There is a contingent of murderous ducks and geese who live in the pond over there, and LO really likes watching them.  (I don't like to let him watch them attempt to drown each other, although as a neighbor points out, nature is an asshole.  That might not be a bad lesson for LO to learn early).

LO also really enjoys walking all over the place.  Like so:
The problem stems from the fact that murderous geese and ducks (they do not cluck; a cluck they lack; they quack) tend to leave some disgusting gifts around for unsuspecting young men to spread thither and yon.

LO has not yet mastered the complicated ballet necessary to maintain forward momentum while keeping an eye out for shit landmines.  And even if he does see them, altering his left-right-left-right rhythm in any way to avoid the nastiness would end up with someone tumbling to the ground.

So, while LO wandered happily around the pavilion on the island in the middle of the pond, blithely stepping wherever the spirit moved him, I found myself counting the number of times his shoes made contact with used goose feed.  It happened a lot.

On the bright side, I just bought the young man a brand new pair of shoes.  I just need to wait for his feet to grow enough to wear them.  (He had the tottery walk of a child wearing Mom's shoes in them, which is how I realized I bought at least a size too big).  Until that happy day (which will probably be another goose-poo-stepping-in-day), I'm going to disinfect his shoes.

Because that merde du canard is nasty.

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