Canadian Expat Mom

The French Cheese-Man At My Door

Over Christmas holidays one of my besties in France bought me a hilarious Christmas gift. She coined it her “home made hangover kit” and it consisted of hangover tea, electrolyte tablets for re-hydrating, “poo pourri” bathroom spay(which I later learned has hilarious you tube videos) and the cherry on top….a black, sparkly, adult size onesie.

My girlfriends and I went out for dinner to do our gift exchange. One thing led to another and I ended up good and ready to put my new gift to use the next morning. Wanting to use humour as a thank you to my husband for letting me sleep in, before joining my family in the living room, I decided to slip into my new onesie and make a grandiose entrance. I didn’t bother to stop and check my outfit in the mirror.

One look at me and they all burst out laughing. In between gasps for air, my husband declared that I look like Grimace, from McDonald’s.

I saunter over to the mirror in the front entrance and didn’t completely disagree. This was not the most flattering outfit that I’ve ever owned, but man, was it comfy!

Over the course of the holidays, the Grimace onesie went from a joke/serious gift, to being a regular part of my morning wardrobe. I took to lounging in it for a few hours each morning before I got dressed. My bathrobe was thrown aside; there was a new go-to morning outfit in town. After so many months of living next to the equator, there was something so great about being able to wrap myself in this fuzzy, warm, ridiculous looking garment.

It was two days before we had to head back to Africa and I was taking full advantage of my lazy mornings by the fireplace….while wearing my oneisie. I let the kids join in my laziness and didn’t really push for anyone else to rush out of their PJs. However one day, I stretched it a bit far because it was nearly noon and no one was dressed yet—it was Christmas holidays after all. The time of day didn’t phase me until the doorbell rang.

I leaped out of my groove in the couch and in a moment of sheer panic that I might be caught in my Grimace outfit, I ran at full speed, in search of my husband.

“Get out of the shower! You have to answer the door!…I’m in my onesie!”

“That’s a good lesson that you shouldn’t be wearing that thing.” he says from the shower in his judgy-mcjudgerson voice. “Throw a jacket on and answer the door.”

So I did.

In a cloud of shame, not only for my choice of wardrobe, but also for my uncombed hair and the fact that it was noon on a weekday and both myself and my kids still weren’t dressed; I opened the door and made my way down the driveway. (In France everyone has a gate at the end of the their driveway, so people don’t actually knock on your door, but they ring your gate.)

Turns out that the man who busted me in my onesie was actually a shepherd…a real live shepherd, that made brebis cheese. He drove into town regularly and sold cheese from the back of his van(that had be transported to a refrigerator).

How’s that for farm to table?In the best French I could muster up in my disheveled state of embarrassment, (a real Frenchwoman would NEVER answer the door looking like that…and more likely never wear a Grimace outfit at all) I explained to the good shepherd that we actually lived in Africa and we were leaving in a couple days so I wouldn’t be buying any cheese that day. But apparently the shepherds of the region are well versed in high pressure sales from the back of their vans, and he assured me the cheese travelled well, and lasted a long time. Being an easy victim to high pressure sales, I quickly ran back to the house, as my kids ran around wildly in the driveway in their PJs(again, very unFrench).

My husband, now shaving, but only wearing a towel, was still in no shape to take over the transaction.

“I need 60 euros, we’re buying a wheel of cheese from a shepherd.”

“Of course we are.” he replied dryly, no longer shocked by the strange, random phrases that leave my mouth.

I scrambled around, found some money, and caught a glimpse of myself in the front entrance mirror as I ran back outside. My reflection caused a knee-jerk reaction of me wrapping my unzipped jacket tightly around my body in a hopeless attempt to hide my outfit.

I made my way back outside, bought the cheese from the shepherd’s make-shift refrigerator and hoped that my upcoming trip to Congo wouldn’t resemble an episode of Border Crossings.

Today, from my little kitchen here in the Congo, sporting jean shorts and a t-shirt on the daily, I smile to myself a little every time I go for a slice of the brebis, because that life in France, where I lounged in a Grimace onesie until noon, seems like a world away.


*Please accept my sincere apology for not posting a photo of the grimace onesie in fear of my being made into a meme that it becomes an internet sensation.  ~Lisa

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