Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Monkey Store Has Closed

I lived, for about three and a half months, in an apartment on la rue Denis Papin in the city of Blois, France, a few floors above the Monkey Store.

We called it the Monkey Store – and I’m sure we weren’t alone – because of its name. It was a Singer sewing machine store. Singer is a familiar brand in the United States, but in France it has one of those unfortunate names that don’t translate well. Singe is the French word for monkey, and singer, the French verb for “act like a monkey” or “to monkey around.” So obviously it was the Monkey Store.

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We lived on the third floor – second to the French – right in the middle. One night, Elder Merchant accidentally knocked a two-liter bottle of Coke down onto the balcony below. He was content to leave it there, but Elder Duersch wasn’t. We tied some sheets together and he climbed down, retrieved the Coke, and came back up. No one in the Monkey Store was the wiser, but we called Elder Duersch the Blois Monkey from then on out.

Now the Monkey Store is no more. Gone. Replaced by something called “Sergent Major,” which apparently is a kids’ clothing store. That’s fine. But no one wants to live above military personnel, do they?

At least the Caisse d’Epargne is still there. Classic French bank/lending society, whose mascot is a squirrel – and that’s probably one of the hardest words to say in French: ecureuil. Ironically, squirrel is one of the hardest English words for the French to pronounce. So there’s some equity there.

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