Anne-Françoise was my first French friend. Our original meeting was classic, a cliche. We were waiting for out daughters outside the tiny grade school in our village. She spoke no English and I, as I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions, had a French vocabulary of between ten and fifteen words.It didn’t matter, we knew instantly that we would become fast friends. She even learned how to understand, though not speak, Franglais. From the beginning she managed to decipher every tortured phrase I tried to construct. We have the same sense of humor, the same “get on with it” outlook on life and we have never failed to have fun together. And, as I believe I’ve told you many times, she is a hostess extraordinaire.
Anne-Françoise was the inspiration for my book. She is a former model (yes, she’s stunning), mother of six and now grandmother of 13. She runs two houses, beautifully (of course). Chickens strut free in her garden with her poodle and German shepherd, both of whom were required to listen to a long, stern conversation about how dogs neither chase nor eat chickens. There was one minor incident — ruffled feathers, literally — but a serious upbraiding ensued and now all animals frolic in harmony in her gardens and olive orchards.
As you may suspect, the above paragraphs are background so that you understand the quality of the source who taught me a valuable life lesson: “If you think you look fat or old or tired or riddled with cellulite, don’t point this out to your significant other.”She always maintained that chances are our husbands don’t notice cellulite or a softening chin and that we would be fools to point out what we consider our flaws. In fact, she said “stupid,” which btw is the same word in French and English. Interesting.
I was thinking about her recently when an American friend and I were discussing how our jaws were letting us down. We were lamenting that inevitable doughiness that made us realize our “ovals” as the French say are no longer as crisp and defined as they were.She said she pointed this out to her husband who said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I called Anne-Françoise to tell her the story knowing how much she would enjoy it. Her response: “Evidemment.”