I was invited to a "Fête de Noix" in Nailhac, a small village near Hautefort last week-end. English friends, Ruth and Steve, who I met through my french class last year live in Nailhac and have put forth a lot of effort to integrate into their area. This year Ruth was on one of the fête committees and spent many hours fashioning paper flowers that were strung into garlands and other shapes and used to decorate the tiny village.
This village celebrates Friday through Sunday ... one 'repas' won't do it for them! I closed up a bit early and headed over (it is about an hour's drive) ... did my usual getting lost a bit before getting guided back and was warmly greeted with a nice cool gin tonic ... what's not to love about that!
Ever encounter some one you just connect right away with? sure you have, and that's how I felt with Ruth. We were able to chat and laugh immediately (in class) and have had some nice afternoons ... they don't live here full-time so it is another 'flexible friendship' where you 'profiter' when able ... I'm learning more how to do that these days ... as potential friends are fewer and farther away than in the states. Ruth offered to put me up in her guest room so we could drink to our heart's content! lol, plus the fact we could walk there left us feeling able to throw caution to the wind!
well, j/k ... sort of. I had a lot of fun meeting some of Ruth's friends and checking out the village party. I think the tinier the village ... well no maybe not, anyway, I will say I have encountered such a broad variety of experiences with these village happenings ... they can be quite charming.
this one felt somewhat familial ... casual ... and fun! there were a couple of village characters ... the old gent who(french) who likes to take his 'bises' one step further ... and the young man(french) who is a performer at heart and dresses up in various costumes each year with accompanying personalities and entertains the attendees.
and the table full of brits we were 'reserved' with ... some colorful folks there as well...I sat next to a gent on my left, 3 across and Ruth to my right. All were spouses of others at the table. Everyone was quite friendly, jocular even. Except for the man at my left. Soon after I sat down, I was rummaging in my purse and he asked what was I after ... just as he saw me find a pack of Camels and a lighter.
"Oh. surely you're not," he exclaimed. I was kind of taken aback, first of all because he was peering into my purse right along with me. Okay, we were sat on benches ... but it was still a little forward. "Not at table. SURELY no," he kept repeating.
I'm not sure why, but it instantly irritated me! All who know me know I'm not even a serious smoker, just with cocktails or what not. and we were drinking aperitif, no food had been served. and we were outdoors. and all the tables with the french (just next to us) had smokers. smoking. Ruth piped up and pointed this out.
But let me also say that, in seeking out the pack, I wasn't planning to have a smoke just then. It was just that we were a bit scooched in there and it was on my mind to set them out on the table for later.
but then mister nosy mcnosy decided to tell me what to do. or not to do. the fellows across the way urged me to go ahead, have your fag, we don't care.
and so I decided to torment this slightly annoying article just a bit. (Ruth, I know you've begun reading me ... begging forgiveness in advance! :P)... I can be naughty that way. when inspired.
I placed the pack firmly on the table between our 2 settings, along with the lighter ... looked him straight in the eye and said, "I'm not planning to smoke just yet ... unless you piss me off". he was more than startled! I told him "you know us 'mericans are quite direct and I'm a best example of such ..."
The chaps (seems in keeping with the theme here) across the way had a laugh and kept trying to instigate a ciggy lighting session. I proceeded to point out the other folks around, smoking away. He then pointed out a guy standing off to the side, french no less, and smoking. Maybe I'd like to join him was his retort!
Sorry, I considered it but he was already with a pretty lady, so no go! I grabbed the pack and extracted a cig, rolling it twixt my fingers and toying with the lighter.
Now normally, I would never smoke at a table full of folks (picnic table it was) who were obviously non-smokers. but I was being pushed by his smug disapproval. I managed to hold out through a couple of courses, but after a few (more than a few) aperitifs and a glass or 2 of wine, I turned my back to him, sitting with my legs facing outwards of the bench and lit up. I felt his eyes boring into my back (and glimpsed him sideways, with an evil smirk).
He said nary a word.
after this, there was dancing. Ruth and I got on the dance floor a few times, and even stayed after her husband caught a ride with friends due to a case of the gout in his foot. I snagged a few photos of the dance floor but missed the best part ,,, which can only be described as some sort of giant seated, caterpillar dance. everyone is sat on the floor, legs spread and close to the next in front ... sort of seating swaying dancing and then ... ZUT ALORS! ... it morphs into a seated mosh pit ... the end person dives into the upraised arms of the chain and is passed to the front!
somehow we walked home with our little 'torches' (about a mile down a country lane) and when we arrived (around 3ish) Steve was in the pool! I donned my suit and we went down ... for some reason I only sat on the edge and cooled down ... it was still warm at that hour. next day I couldn't remember why I didn't swim. that alone shows it was probably for the best.
needless to say, the hour's drive back to Brantôme and the afternoon working in the store were *cough* a challenge *cough*, to put it mildly.
but it was SOOOO! fun! especially letting my merciless contrary nature roam free a bit.
(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)