As some of you may recall, Andrea, our three very large dogs from the Bedford, NY, SPCA, and I moved to France for two years. That was more than 25 years ago.
At the time, neither of us spoke a word of French (well, she was only eight) beyond merci, s’il vous plait, and bonjour. I also knew, voilà, but unfortunately had little use for it at the time.
Because of the dogs, we couldn’t live in Paris. I found a thatch-roofed cottage in the country between Versailles and Rambouillet, commuted to the Herald Tribune and shortly thereafter enrolled Andrea in the tiny school in our village. Because of the aforementioned fact she didn’t speak French, every afternoon for several months, we would walk hand-in-hand to the home of Madame Lardin, a retired French teacher, who thankfully spoke perfect English, for intensive tutoring. She had a sweet black dog named Dog. How perfect was that?
Andrea’s goal was not so much to speak French, but rather to have friends which excellerated the process. She was fluent in about three months. She continued with Madame Lardin for another three months in order to learn the more complex details of French grammar.
The repeat of this story is for background.
Madame Lardin was what the French call “special” which, as you know, tends to mean peculiar as opposed to wonderful although in her way, in our eyes she was a combination of the two. She was, I’m being frank here, a sort of sorceress. She believed in myriad herbal tinctures and teas, tended to use candles instead of electricity, wore long dresses, sandals with socks and shawls, long grey hair flowing over her shoulders.
Among the things she taught me was The White Handkerchief Trick.
More background: Before I went into the clinic in Paris in June, I slipped my driver’s license andcarte deresident inside my passport and hid the three documents. I didn’t need them at the clinic or in rehab.
Several weeks later when I returned home I wanted to put the license and carte de resident back in my purse. I couldn’t find them or my passport. I always keep my passport in the right hand drawer of the desk in our little library. It wasn’t there. Hysterical is an understatement as I went through my Pavlovian searches, hour after hour, day after day.
Then I remembered Madame Lardin’s white handkerchief counsel. She said that whenever one loses something, “take a large white handkerchief and tie it to the leg of a piece of furniture that you constantly see throughout the day. It clears the mind of obsessions and helps you remember where you put something or where you might have lost something.”
I promise you, this has always worked for me. Two days after tying the handkerchief on a table leg I found all my documents in the drawer where they belonged. For reasons unknown I had put them inside a white envelope. When I thrashed through the contents of the drawer I was looking for a blue passport, not a white envelope.
Et voilà, I highly recommend you try her trick.