February 19, 2011

Mon Epouse Violente (Partie 1)

I used to feel like France was rather passive aggressively trying to get me to leave. Yes, she invited me to come and stay with her, but she never made any promises of being nice to me. Almost as if she’s the mother of a boyfriend who doesn’t think you’re quite good enough for her son, who doesn’t say anything outright, but makes her displeasure known through other means.

France was being ever so passive aggressive when I went to la laverie (the laundromat). I had two loads to do, but of course the place was crowded and there was only one machine open. I decided to start with my sheets and towels. Finally, a second machine opened up. I put my clothes inside, and then I went to the jeton (coin) dispenser. The machine, which is supposed to accept 5, 10, and 20 euro bills, refused to accept any of mine. I got change from one of my fellow laundromat users, but when I tried to use the washing machine, it ate my coin. I then tried to push the coin by using my dyer coin, but the machine ate that coin, too.

Now this was horrible for a variety of reasons. I didn’t have time to wait for everybody else’s laundry to be done, I didn't have any change to buy new coins for the dryer, and since my dirty clothes were staying dirty, I had nowhere to put my clean sheets once they were done.

I was hearing France’s message loud and clear. She was letting the laundromat speak for her. “I’m going to make life super difficult for you if you hang around! You'll never have clean socks!”

Day two at the laundromat, everything was different. It wasn’t crowded. The coin machine worked perfectly. The washing machine took my coin without a second thought. I didn’t have to wait for a dryer.

After one ten minute blast of hot air, my clothes were still not dry, so I headed over to the coin machine to pay for some more dryer time. But instead of having to pay .90centimes for ten minutes, I got it for free, because an incredibly cute French guy asked me, “c’est pour le seche-linge? Parce que j’ai un jeton de plus” (is it for the dryer? Because I have an extra coin).

“Oh, oui, mais je n’ai pas la bonne monnaie,” (oh, well yes it is but I don’t have the right change) I replied, showing him my two fifty cent euro coins.

“Oh. Non. C’est bon. Prends-le,” (Oh, no. Don’t worry about it, just take it) he replied.

“How incredibly nice!” I thought, and began to feel much better about the laundromat as an establishment. It was as if this one cute guy’s nice gesture was able to change my opinion about France’s previous devious behavior.

I had forgotten all about the original trip the laundromat and was thinking about how much I love living here when I realized who France had become. She went from the passive aggressive, sabotaging mother-in-law to an abusive spouse, who the very next day brings me flowers and tells me how much she loves me.


  1. Thank you for reminding me how much I loathe the laundromat (Boston days had many a post about being down to my last pair of skivvies). And yes-having vacationed in France a few times I think your abusive relationship description is an apt one. Man. Doing laundry sucks, though I suppose all the French speak would make that hated chore a bit sexier.

  2. "She went from the passive aggressive, sabotaging mother-in-law to an abusive spouse, who the very next day brings me flowers and tells me how much she loves me."

    ...which is pretty much referred to in my business, m'dear, as an abusive relationship. I know. I also am in an abusive relationship with France. (I've also had identical experiences at the laverie, the photomaton, la poste...the list goes on.) Bon courage!

  3. Jenna: I really just don't like doing laundry. I always wait till the last minute possible before caving and actually having clean clothes to wear. I'm not sure if the French language sexifies this experience, or just makes it even more horrible. I definitely don't have enough vocabulary to understand the intricacies of the different washing types etc, haha.

    Leslie: I know! She'd just never really been nice to me, in the same setting, before, and it made me realize that maybe she wasn't just constantly trying to get me to pack up and leave. I'm sure all expats have similar experiences with France. But damnit, I'm going to win in the end! She's not kickin' me out!

  4. I have a love hate relationship with the laundromat. I used to really enjoy the process and how my clothes were all warm and dry, but now I just dread going. It takes an eternity and costs a billion euros to do one load. I want a big ol' American washing machine and dryer!

  5. bad luck comes in 3's and I bet the laundromat can be frustrating and it also takes up so much time.

  6. Lindsey: I totally agree! I used to have to go to the laundromat when I was in college and I didn't hate it so much. Also it was definitely cheaper. USA: 1 France: 0

    Erika Lee Sears:If it comes in 3's then I'm in trouble because I only had a Part 2 planned for this post! Haha. But knowing France, I'm sure I have lots of trouble/complications/annoyances coming my way. Thanks for reading my blog!

  7. wow, loved this post. just read it. probably my favorite of yours...ever. the way you characterize france and give her so much personality is very enjoyable. keep up the good work, laura. it keeps getting better :)

  8. Thank you so much John! That means a lot to me coming from you :)

  9. Came here via http://breadispain.wordpress.com/ and have to say, this is one great post. And your French sounds like it's at a great level!

  10. Theresa: Welcome! And thank you, twice :)


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