A Funny Thing Happened on the way au marché

I woke feeling groggy and a bit congested this morning, so sadly, I didn’t feel as eager about the farmer’s market as I usually do. To miss it, though, is unthinkable! Plus, the petits pains aux épices et chocolat—which I would describe as chocolate-covered spice cookies, but the name literally translates to “little breads of spice and chocolate,” which is fantastic because cookies are a sometimes food, but you can never eat too much bread in France—could pull me out of a coma. (Though I hope they’ll never need to…)

So I set off as usual, and I don’t know if it had something to do with the pseudopedrine in my system or what, but this morning was weird.

First, a block from my house, a young man (20ish?) zipped past me on roller skates. Not rollerblades, roller skates. Maybe in France a 20-year-old on roller skates is totally unremarkable but I had to do a double take to make sure I believed my eyes. The only other time I’ve seen roller skates outside of a roller rink is when the Minnesota Roller Girls are in parades.

A few meters farther down the rue, I saw something even weirder. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, except that it was CREEPY: a hundred or so white wooden silhouettes of women arranged around the gazebo in the park, each one labelled with a name tag.

Turns out, it was intended to be upsetting. A woman involved in the installation informed me that it was a memorial to women who were killed by their husbands.

May our daughters inherit a world in which memorials like this one shall be unnecessary.

Third, I had a very strange interaction.

As a foreigner, I’m not always sure whether something was weird because of a language barrier or some subtle cultural difference or whether it was just plain weird—but in this case, I’m leaning toward the latter. Let me explain.

I was drinking coffee from a ceramic travel mug. As I was crossing the street toward my friend Caitlin (we always go to the market together), a guy asked pointed at my mug and asked “Où est-ce que vous avez cherché ce truc?” (Where did you find that thing?)

His question didn’t strike me as weird. The French don’t carry their coffee around with them as we Americans do, so it’s reasonable that he would be curious about a ceramic travel mug with a silicone lid. I answered that I had bought it in the U.S., but that I had seen some just like it in shops around Angers.

What’s weird is what happened after I responded.

He didn’t go away.

He just stood there, looking at us. I greeted Caitlin. He kept watching us. In a fruitless attempt to make his presence less awkward, I asked him his name. He responded—David—but he didn’t ask mine; he just stood there. It was so awkward that I wondered for a moment whether he even spoke French.

At that point I said that I had to go find my favorite cookies—which of course means Time for you to go on your merry way, David—so Caitlin and I turned to cross the street.

He followed.

He was standing too close to us for me to say discreetly to Caitlin that I didn’t know why he was following us, and he wasn’t being a creep, really, just extremely odd. It would have been perfectly fine for him to follow us around—goodness knows we could use more French friends—if he had been making conversation, but he wasn’t. We both figured he was just really bad at being friendly, so we talked to him a little bit but also made a few attempts to part ways with him by slowing down, then speeding up, and acting really engrossed in the various stalls.

Clearly, no sparks were flying, yet David finally took his leave by asking what I was doing in the afternoon. I said that I had a lot of work to do, which of course means Not spending it with you, if that’s what you’re going to ask next.

An appropriate response on his part would have been: Okay, well, have a good one.

But his response was: Call me.

(It gave me flashbacks to Cameroon, where guys insisted on giving us their numbers even if we specifically said that we were NOT going to call.)

He finally walked away, and Caitlin said, “He would have been really intriguing if he weren’t weird and standing too close to us.”

Last but not least…

VEGETARIANS, THANK YOU FOR READING. LOOK NO FURTHER. HAVE A NICE DAY.

Previously, I’ve felt more and more at home at the market with each passing Saturday—American accent? Oh, that’s just because I’m a globetrotter, but I’m French, really!—but this week, I was back to square one. Want to know why?

It was a bunny slaughterhouse.

We all know that the French eat rabbits and I’ve noticed that the French are more honest about the origins of meat than Americans are

(as evidenced by the fact that they leave heads and feet on dead chickens)

and I’ve lived in Cameroon

(where the butcheries looked like this)

but I still couldn’t help but gawk today. I had previously only seen rabbit meat arranged into neat bundles, tied up with sprigs of sage, ready for the roast. I guess it’s seasonal, because today, for the first time, I saw bunnies looking like THIS:

Intense, n'est pas?

Big box o' bunny guts

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