“What’s the rush to get home?”
“I’ve got to get my bread started.”
“French bread! Baguettes! My specialty. I found a new baguette recipe that I want to try. Claims to make the bread, how do you English say, ze more airey, like ze cloudz.”
“Light would be good,” she said licking her front tooth.
I must say, the dentist did a fine job on that repair. You can hardly tell it was chipped.
“Hey, look over there, it’s La Madeline bakery. Why don’t we just stop in and buy some baguettes?”
“What?”, I was shocked, “buy bread when I can make it myself AND I have a new recipe? Sacre bleu, what a thought!” (I was getting into the French thing.)
We were getting close to La Madeline’s entrance.
“But, La Madeline’s bread is b…” she said hurriedly, biting off the last word.
“Buh, what? You said their bread is ‘buh’ and then stopped.”
I thought for a second then said, “Were you going to say their bread is ‘bitter?’ Or, was it ‘buttery?’ Can’t say I’ve experienced either. ‘Batter?” Their bread is batter? That doesn’t even make sense.”
Slowly a revelation began to dawn on me like biting into a mouldy chestnut or hearing a particularly bad mixed metaphor.
“You weren’t going to say, were you,” I said in my best Spanish Inquisitor’s voice, “you weren’t going to say that La Madeline’s bread was better, were you?”
Crickets chirped. Somewhere in the distance a coyote howled mournfully. A tumbleweed rolled by. Silence.
Choosing her words carefully she explained, “No, I wasn’t going to say that La Madeline’s bread is ‘better’ , per se , rather I was going to say that it would be a better use of your time to buy La Madeline’s admittedly inferior-to-yours bread so you could concentrate on the more intricate, delicate aspects of preparing Christmas dinner, without being distracted by unrising yeast, malfunctioning ovens and weevily flour. That’s what I was going to say.”
Quickly, I turned into La Madeline’s entrance, cutting off only a couple of drivers who acknowledged my skillful maneuver with cheerful honking of horns and seasonal holiday hand waving.
“Merry Christmas to you, too!” I waved back excitedly.
“People are so nice this time of year,” I observed brightly.
As I strode into the bakery I thought of my wife’s incisive observation that buying French bread would be a better use of my time. Always thinking about me, I thought, how about that?
Later, with loaves in hand I returned to the truck.
“You were gone a long time. Was it crowded?”
“Nope, the place was mostly empty. I got to talk with the Master Baker Guy, Jean-Paul, or Pierre or something.”
“Well, being somewhat of a master baker myself, I gave Jean-Paul or Pierre or something some of my baking tips and techniques. I don’t know how much he understood, being French and all, but I used my best French accent and I think he got the message.”
“And, well, he listened attentively, although it was obvious he had something in the oven because he kept checking his watch, so I wrapped it up quickly, bought my loaves and left.”
“And, as I was leaving he wished me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In French, no less! What a guy. I think he was grateful for my tips. He said, and I quote,”
Imbécile, ne laissez pas la porte frapper votre derrière comme vous partez.
“What a guy. We ought to come back here more often. Such a friendly place…”