Peter Mayle’s book Toujours Provence is about year 2 in Provence. Chapter 1 is Les Invalides (The Sick). The “sick” aren’t so sick, but are in line at the pharmacy for the pharmacist to validate that their precious just-collected truffles are not poison. By law, French pharmacists must be well-versed in the potentially formidable fungi.
Speaking of what is peculiar in culture, there is a bit of a Grump Undercurrent in pharmacies, shops, and restaurants in Sedona. Growing up in the West, I took no notice of it. but now, as a Southern Belle and Gentleman of 20 and 30 years respectively, Mr. Wannabe and I have taken notice.
Let’s talk manners.
Elevators: Don’t expect anyone to hold the door open for you. Get used to “I’ll just wait for the next one.”
Doors: Expect these to slam in your face at just the right moment. If they are held open at all, it’s only just long enough for it to awkwardly hit you square.
There’s a particular character well-known in France called “Auntie Danielle”: a bitter woman who takes pride and joy in causing misery in others. A few “Auntie Danielle’s” live here, I swear it. Both Mr. W. and I have experienced her and her sisters.
Jewelry Auntie Danielle (JAD) was sullen and unhappy about working one Saturday afternoon at Tlaquepaque; perhaps imagining that drinking a cold beer in the stifling July shade would be preferrable. She eyed my 1970s Americana glitter heart necklace purchase with suspicion. “Eh, this is quite a FLAMBOYANT piece. What’r’ya gonna wear it with?!” Jumping in as quite the Happy Bunny with my find I replied “Oh! I have this supercute white dress! Any discount for locals? I live here.”
I had messed up with tone and pace.
Too cheery. Rapidfire Southern Cityslicker.
Her watery eyeballs examined me up with a hell to the no and down with not even if you slept in the bed next to me. I think she may have tried to guess my underwear size just then.
Happy Hoppy Bunny From Said South is always willing to try new restaurants, so, on another day, Mr. W. and I went to try a place with good reviews and views. I may have heard “Mama’ll be along to seat you.” just before Mr. W. came in after parking the car.
Restaurant Auntie Danielle (RAD) shuffled towards us, plastic menus in hand, and in true Killick of Master and Commander fashion, muttered something as she showed us to our patio seats. RAD was coiffed in curly Instagram Goth blue hair usually reserved for angsty 14 year old girls. Her sparkly green eyeshadow had been hiding since 1972, but made its debut, right here in midday in front of God, Snoopy Rock, and everybody.
RAD did not want to be serving food to chipper and hungry former-now-local Southerners. Especially ones who thought that they should have appetizers for the main course and a smattering of drinks. A Bloody Mary and Diet Coke AND a beer?! Good heavens, teenagers! I shall meter out those drinks because clearly you are new to the planet and need some management!
Our gushing with Southern Manners finally began to crack her just slightly. I think we said her Yearly Alottment of Pleases and Thank You’s in a single meal.
Last week, Mr. W. went to a pharmacy to get a visa photo for overseas travel. Pharmacy Auntie Danielle (PAD) shuffled out of the dark back room, made no eye contact, gave no instruction, and said nothing as she keel-hauled down the photo screen from the ceiling for Official Photography. My husband, well-trainined in such photos, stood in front of said posing screen and PAD grunted and snapped a few photos. With her back turned to him and presenting the photos on a computer screen, she then gravelled “Whatd’ya think?!” She showed Mr. W. the prospective headshot photos that would eventually make their way to a chuckling official at the nearest Chinese consulate. Mr. W. complained “Oh, those are TERRIBLE! I look Puffy! I have this distorted body image of myself that just doesn’t come across in photos.” PAD retorted “Whaty’a MEAN?! Yur a HANDSOME man! I don’t JUDGE people!” And on it horribly went…
So, why the Danielle attitude? It can’t be the location. Look around. This place is the most beautiful on earth. Hormones? Likely. All Danielles seemed to be badly-aged 50 or 60-somethings. In this day and age and healing location, bioidentical hormones could be supplied like candy. In fact, they may even be free at the dentist’s office. Suzanne Sommer’s books are free at the super library too.
And what about Grumpy Old Men? Are they being kept prisoner at home? Did the Danielles kill them off? We have yet to see them, though we get small, rare hints that they might lurk at Ace Hardware.
Do some people just revel at being a bitch though? I think so. “No medicines for ME, by God!” A rite of passage. Wearing the curmudgeon badge with conviction. A hall pass to finally be mean to people.
Well, then, instead of a tip, perhaps some estriol cream.
Wear it proudly, Danielle.
Tatie Danielle.1990.Live Home Studio