11 December, 2008

Squeezed Lemon.

If you really want to come across as a foreigner living in France, you buy yourself a lovely old, dripping with nostalgia, Citroen 2CV, or Deux Chevaux. The charm is so there, my three year old bounces up and down with excitement when he catches sight of one on the road. Alright, I do a little bouncing as well.

Let me qualify this: as a 2CV owner, you are either a (most likely Anglo-Saxon) foreigner, a Luddite with ascetic tendencies, or you're just plain lacking in funds. I, on the other hand, fell very, very hard for an old Fiat Mini 500 sedan (so very Italian, that's how confused I am). Marriage being a series of compromises, we ended up with a moderately used Renault Kangoo. As in "can-go," and not "Mr. Magoo." I know, I didn't quite see the compromise either. It's very French, very campagne, very practical. And in our case, very yellow. In Holland I am teased because the car fits perfectly in the fleet of the Dutch version of AAA, the wegenwacht. In France, however, people run after me to give me their mail.

From my archives, as the Canon's still on strike.

Our profoundly yellow car is just the tiniest bit more golden than those of La Poste, or the French postal service. On the bright side, pun intended, on my monthly forays to the grandes surfaces (department/"box" stores), I never, ever lose my car in the parking lot anymore.

There are certain rites of passage inherent to living in a foreign country. Learning the language, figuring out the local customs, finding your own favorite places. Then there are the extra credit rites of passage, such as getting into a car accident and working your way out of it.

I got extra credit yesterday. Those charming little villages, with their impossibly narrow streets? My daughter takes drawing classes in one. Having picked her up, I was headed home, when I abruptly stopped. Hurtling toward us (on aforementioned impossibly narrow streetlet) was another Kangoo. The driver never slowed, as she evidently considered the road not impossibly narrow. She was wrong. The entire left side of my car needs replacing, as pieces and bits were strewn over Kingdom come. The children and I were left whole. With the suitable dose of adrenaline, I immediately engaged in highly fluent hand-waving, with my eyebrows providing a little additional elan.

After the initial flurry, however, my conclusion is this: things resolve themselves often rather more smoothly in the countryside. After all, you stand a far better chance of running into one another (ahem) in the supermarket/pharmacy/cafe than strangers do in the city. As it turns out, the other driver was a mother of one of the other students in Sophie's drawing class. Never seen her before, but my money's on seeing her very regularly til the end of the school year, knowing the way these things go. And she'll have to wave and say hi, because you cannot ignore a siren yellow Kangoo. Especially one you've already bashed up.

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