Here in Pont-Aven, I’m always rehearsing in my head and muttering what I’ll be attempting to say when I encounter someone in the street.
Imagine a Parisian “Rain Man”.
Perfectly formed, rather complex French phrases roll of my “langue”* while I’m lying in bed at night-
“Why yes, I do appreciate the fact that you’re trying to offer me, in my opinion, a rather shabbily constructed wallet at an agreeable price but I must question the origin and treatment of the labor force that manufactured this offered item and further express my disapproval for the rather sub-par facility deployed in the tanning of the bovine’s exterior dermal layer.”
In the light of day- “Cow envelope for money no makes today. Large thanks”
(yes, thank you David Sedaris for the piggy-back ride)
Anyway, this constantly rehearsed internal French lesson is crowding my mental ward of current resident dialogs and is aggressively fighting for dominance. The usual combative volley of “competent/incompetent”, ”motivated/lazy”, ”relevant/invisible”, ”fat/just husky” mental calisthenics I engage in is taking on a rather Francophonic flair.
I now have an insistent translator circling the arena adding an international echo to my insecurities.
I joke with friends that when I mention “my collaborator” or “my mentor” or “my lover” I’m actually referring to a musty sock puppet I keep at the ready for sage advice and intimate confidences. It completes the “we” of “Well, we though it would be best to include a DVD of our latest…” or “We LOVED that film, we couldn’t believe how good Keanu…”
Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to imagine and extra creepy with its inferred intimacy but it’s wholly pragmatic in application.
A sock puppet confidant.
…stretched over my bedpost with its cold, dead button eyes watching, limply waiting, patiently plotting its next offensive. Moppish yarn hair and arched Sharpie eyebrows poised in a macabre stasis, yearning to reanimate on my limber hand…
Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.
If I could give these interior rants an exterior, elastic body to possess, I could completely extract them from my head, play out the drama on my hand and then retire my tube-bodied compadre to his little shoe-box green room. If one player wasn’t sufficient, I could raid public laundromats and build a whole team of self-help hosiery, each one a crafty and crafted surrogate member of my internal chorus.
And for daily, portable mental maintenance …finger puppets.
*also the name of a delicious custard topped, long flakey pastry here in town.
*also reminds me of when I worked at Samuel’s, a kosher deli in Chicago in the mid-eighties. We offered tongue but no one except Arlene could make the first slice through the very visible taste buds without getting nauseous. We would shout out, “new tongue” if somebody’s order involved that first cut and she would temporarily bump us off the slicer to do the deed.