Sunday, August 19, 2012

La lutte entre des mots continue

We see that the French can be a people of many finely crafted words.

Reims Graff

Climbing into the l’ascenseur recently, my wife and I were confronted with a Stern Warning regarding the use and operation of household cleaning machines after 22h00.  The Stern Warning was beautifully crafted with it's selection and order des mots.

Performing a quick mental check, I wasn't sure if the note was aimed at us, or some other building resident.  I vaguely remembered running l'aspirateur perhaps as late into the evening as 20h00 or 21h00-ish a few weeks back.

My mind then turned it's attention to the present state of French speaking abilities and I realized I am light-years away from being able to create such elegant phrases.  I can barely grunt "je vous en prie" whenever someone says "Merci" for some kindness or other that I am perceived to have performed.

Une short but entertaining lutte ensued.  Whoever posted the message was quite adamant that the Finely Crafted Message remain in the elevator taped to the glass facing the door for all the residents to read.  I had moved the warning to the side panel next to the buttons so people would be free to check their makeup and inspect how their clothing might be arranged in the mirror before venturing out into the Competitive Fashion Jungle that is Paris.  The following day as I took the recycling into the cave where les poubelles live I quickly noted that the Finely Crafted Message was squarely centered back onto the mirror where it was first placed.

Not wishing to begin another war, I let matters be taped as they were.  

Graff in the 19th

I felt we'd had enough to worry over when we lived over in the 16th for a short time.  It was there that a war over who could form the more perfect letter "X" on one of two doors played out.  Those two doors happened to be our neighbor and his neighbor two doors down from us.  Close conflict.  Too close for comfort or sound sleep.  The next thing we knew, a whole war of the alphabet could break out, and who knew where that might lead next?  Whole sentences?  Gods!  What would the world have come to??

On the fourth day, la lutte contre les machine de ménage Finely Crafted Message was removed.  Peace returned to the apartment building.

Two weeks later, as we were leaving the building, we saw someone had turned the entry carpet into a litter box for kittens.  The problem was, they hadn't done a complete job of things.  Kitty litter was spilled in a rather awkward arc just in front of the inner glass door.  It was messy and we did our best not to disturb the Latest Crime Scene.  We hoped cats would have the Good Sense to clean up after themselves.  We hate the sight of Kitty Rocca.

An hour later, upon our return, what were we faced with but Stern Warning II (the Sequel).  This time it was stated in no uncertain Finely Crafted Phrases that it was incroyable!, simply incroyable!!, that someone would make a spill, only to leave it to others to clean up.  The kitty little box had returned to being our entry way carpet, clean and pristine.

Paris Window Art

The Finely Crafted Stern Warning II (the Sequel) font style was the same as l’ascenseur notice had been.  The size of the font was identical.  The elegant use of Finely Crafted Phrases was unmistakable too.

The rapidity of the appearance of the Stern Notice II (the Sequel) helped me realize that the first warning could not have been directed toward us.  I hadn't run l'aspirateur in the evening before Stern Notice I appeared, and l'aspirateur was certainly not operated after 22h00!, fercripesake!!

I wonder if we will figure out who the author is?  If we do, I'm sorely tempted to ask for French lessons.  Me-thinks a person could go a long ways in this culture using such beautifully honed phrases.

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