Muscles & mussels.

After a rocky start, my weekend improved considerably. Saturday afternoon, three other assistants and I went to the Angers v. Grenoble football match. It was a very worthwhile adventure, memorable for a number of reasons.

Cast of characters, from left: Abby & Caitlin, fellow American assistants, and Andrea, a German assistant. Note the uncapped bottles.

Being recent college grads and cheapskates, Caitlin and I wanted to sneak in some drinks. Being American, we assumed this would be interdit and got a little nervous when we had to open our bags at the gate. As it turns out, they couldn’t have cared less that our bottles of Coke had clearly been…improved. They just made us throw away the caps so we couldn’t use them as weapons.

When we took our seats, we noticed right away that it was a sausage fest. I was surprised and annoyed to discover that sports spectatorship is even more gendered here than it is in the U.S. I don’t mean to say that sports are any less of a Dude Thing in the U.S. than anywhere else, but I’ve attended plenty of games of plenty of sports and I’ve never felt so clearly outnumbered as we did on Saturday. In our section of around 200 people, we made up half of the women. That’s right: 8 out of roughly 200. I’m not sure whether I should be more annoyed at French men for being men or French women for staying home.

Not only were they all male, they were all wearing black coats and blue jeans. Granted the team's colors are black and white, but then where were the white accessories? It was a funny image.

Both of the teams played badly. The game didn’t hold our attention very long, but when while it did, we had spirit, yes we did. I’ve noticed that the French like to chant together, so I was really disappointed that I couldn’t get our section to sing “AhnZHAY, AhnZHAY, AhnZHAY, AhnZHAY, Anzhayyyy, Anzhayyyyy” to the tune of the World Cup “Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé, Olééééé.” I’m just too clever for them, I suppose.

I was also disappointed, if completely unsurprised, that no one joined me in making vuvuzela noises. I’m probably the only white person in the world who genuinely loves the vuvu, so I’d just like to note that it was at the precise second that I played a vuvuzela iPhone app that Angers scored a second goal to tie the game 2-2. See? They’re good luck!

After the game, the girls came over to my little house where Andrea made us a delicious dinner of mussels in a white wine & garlic sauce. I was mesmerized. I haven’t eaten much shellfish in my life, but when I have, it’s always been in the form of canned clam bellies. It never even occurred to me that I might be capable of making the things in the shells into a meal, so Andrea is now pretty much my hero.

The fruits de mer of Andrea's labor. Yumlicious.

Stay tuned for a very special episode next week! I’m finally taking advantage of my five-day weekends and going to Amsterdam on Wednesday!

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