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the “oh my god” moment

When I moved to NYC from the west coast at age 19 without a job, money or clue, I had my first omg moment walking down Park Avenue towards the Pan Am building (which became the Met Life building and is now probably the Bank of China building).  It’s the moment you realize “oh my god, I’m here, now what am I gonna do?” and you get this crazy burst of adrenaline and your pulse starts pounding in your ears.

site of my first omg moment

site of my most recent omg moment

I’m walking down the street in Vidauban  and that same feeling hits me.  Back when I was 19, it felt empowering and exciting.   Now I feel like I have to go home and lie down.   I stagger up the hill.

When I get back to the apartment and collapse on the couch, I think:   “oh my god, what the hell am I doing here?   How will I survive?   What the hell was I thinking?   I’m too old for this shit.”

And then another revelation hits me upside the head, “oh my god, I’m old.”

My heart starts pounding, I sweat and suddenly my stomach doesn’t feel so good.   And I’m woozy.   I believe these are the symptoms for a heart attack that my mom sent me just the other day.

Oh my god, I’m having a heart attack.   Alone.   In France.   Where’s my cellphone?   Who do I call?  I don’t want to bother anyone.   Wouldn’t it just be easier to die quietly on the couch?

Ahhh, the irony.   I finally get back to France and promptly die because I didn’t know who to call when having a heart attack.  (note to self:  if not dead by tomorrow, remember to compile a list of emergency phone numbers.)

As I try to drape myself into an attractive death pose, I look out at the sun setting over Vidauban and the Provencal countryside (how symbolic).   My cat purrs on my stomach (or is that my stomach growling…or worse, the throws of death?).   I’m pretty sure my vision is blurred.   Am I fading like that willful but heroic Bette Davis character in Dark Victory, who goes blind right before she dies?   Is darkness setting in?    This is so tragic.   On the bright side, at least I died in Provence.

After about a half hour, it occurs to me that maybe it’s not a heart attack.   Maybe it’s some hideous “dove” related disease I picked up yesterday from venturing too close to the flock’s home.   But I kind of feel better.

Maybe it’s a faux heart attack like the one my dad had on his first trip to France, which turned out to some digestive problem from eating too much fois gras.   I have been eating a lot of cheese.

Or a stroke.   I feel my face and try to move it.    I’m a little disappointed to find iit’s still active (I was hoping for paralysis of the forehead and crows feet area around the eyes).

Maybe it’s just your run of the mill anxiety attack.

I test my theory by slowly sitting up (at least I think I’m sitting up, I could be imagining it in my delirium.)

Everything seems fine.   All body parts work.   My glasses are filthy, which could explain  the blurry vision.

It appears I’m not dying.  Oh my god, what am I going to do now?

the rock stars of auvers

vWhere I come from, people stand in line for celebrities and iPhones.

Here in Auvers, it appears the most wanted men are the butchers.   On Sunday mornings before they close for their weekend, the line stretches down the main drag.

J.Y. Gicquel Boucherie  comes highly recommended by the Ladoux family.   I’ve been a little hesitant to venture in there because it will require speaking French and I shudder to think what adorable forest creature I might wind up taking home for dinner.   I’m also not sure whether those numbers before the decimal point in their prices, are ones or sevens and whether we’re talking francs or euros and I’m afraid I can’t afford it if I have to ask.

I’m feeling a little lazy tonight and have decided that my lack of energy is due to a protein deficiency and I need a good piece of red meat.   Preferably something someone who’s lived on takeout for the past 20 years can cook.

butcher window

I’m a little nervous entering, the vibe here is a lot friendlier than the boulanger down the street, where I feel I must apologize when I enter, again when I order and one more time when I pay.   Sometimes I apologize when I leave for good measure.

It’s not like I’m a total stranger here.  I wave to them every time I walk by and they wave back.  There are usually two butchers; a younger one with a roundish face and receeding hairline and an older guy with salt and pepper hair and a nice northern european face.  They may be wearing bloody aprons, but here, they’re captains of industry.   A woman mans the prepared foods counter (quiche, Frenchy salads, things en croute and terrines with hardboiled eggs in them) and cash register.

A couple of people are ahead of me which gives me time to get my bearings and look at all the meats behind the counter and try to figure out what they are so I can point knowledgably.   There are about 7 different kinds of chicken shaped items in various sizes.  Lots of fillets of chicken colored objects of various sizes,  slabs of red unrecognizable red meats.   Lots of unrecognizable parts.   Sausage galore.   Chops.   Ribs.   Rabbits.   Geese.   I’m getting a little sad and consider fleeing or at least turning to the deli counter, but it’s my turn.Meat Question

Here are the french words for meats I know I’ll eat:   poulet (chicken), agneau (lamb), boeuf (beef), dinde (turkey), porc.   But then we get into cuts and I’m lost.   Is an onglet a steak or some organ I don’t want to know about?   And is it an onglet de boeuf, ou cheval?   And what the heck is french for goat?   Je ne voudrais pas goat.   Or lapin (rabbit).   I’m now in a cold sweat and probably look guilty.

The younger guy greets me in French.    I try to say something in French, but all I can do is look behind the the glass and point desperately at a kebab and ask ‘qu’est ce que c’est.’   He doesn’t understand me.   Shit (merde).   He’s one of those French people who doesn’t understand English OR really bad French.   This could be a problem.

I point again at the kebab and ask “c’est l’agneau?”

He looks at me blankly.   I repeat myself slowly.   Nothing.   By now everyone in the store has stopped and watches curiously.   I really want to flee now, but I might want to come back here sometime, so I blunder on.

I point at the kebab and “baaaaah” loudly like a lamb.   His face brightens and he nods vigorously.   I point to my leg.   He nods again.

I shout excitedly, ca!   Un de ca s’il vous plait.  He doesn’t understand what I’m saying, but we’re on the same wavelength.

He wraps it up and I hold my hand out to take it.   He gives me a slip of paper and points to the cash register while babbling something in French.  And I totally get it.   They give me the meat after I pay.   I say merci beaucoup, he says something and the transaction is completed.    We’re both very pleased with ourselves.

Next stop, cash register.   Grand total about E4.92 which is about 9 dollars, so, pretty pricey.   It also presents the problem of whether I pay with the pocketful of coins in my pocket or just hand her the E10 bill I have and get even more coins.   If I pay in coins it could take hours for me to figure out the right amount.   But if I get my change in coins, I’ll just have to face the problem down the road.   I do the only logical thing and dump the contents of my pocket on the counter and let the very nice cashier pick out the coins she needs.

rock stars of AuversI leave the store with my package, calling out “merci, bon soir!” feeling very French.

I broil the kebab, which is all seasoned lamb cubes with a chunk of some sort of sausage at each end and make a salad.

All I can say is that kebab brought me more pleasure than Springstein, Jagger or an iPhone ever could.   Hours later, I’m still fantasizing the subtle seasoning and the tender juicy lamb cubes.   And the sausage!   OMG!  A veritable medley of spices in perfect pork harmony that I can’t get out of my head.

Tomorrow is Sunday, so I’m going to get in line first thing in the morning.   Maybe I should camp out front over night.   I’ll just die if they’re sold out when I get there.

Consult this meat translation guide before venturing into a boucherie.

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