8 April 2014

Le Yoga

'Why are your eyebrows red?’ asked Wingman one morning, a few days before I was scheduled to leave for my trip to France. I ran to the mirror and looked at my reflection. Sure enough they looked like two red caterpillars, and itched like f*ck.

Clearly I had a reaction to the brow dye. In preparation for my trip I’d had my eyebrows shaped. The ‘stylist’ suggested the extra colour, as the brows never returned to their full luster after chemo. I’ve played around with eyebrow powder, but my mother Violet told me that I had to dial it back a bit. (She didn’t exactly say that I looked like Frida Kahlo - but it was implied). So the brow lady came to my rescue.

All this is part of my attempt to look French, and looking French does not happen without some effort. Instead of looking curious, I have to look confident. Rather than slouch, I have to stand ramrod straight. And then there’s the scarf, les souliers, the lipstick, and the attitude. But it’s all worth it – because nothing makes me happier than being mistaken for a local in Paris. 

On a previous visit, several years ago, I went to a local yoga studio where the class was taught entirely in French. Because I'm familiar with yoga, I was able to ooze my way into the class and respond to the teacher with a 'oui' or a nod of the head. It was only after he tried to engage me in a dialogue about knee joints that my cover was busted. ‘Un peut plus lentement?’ I asked weakly. His face fell with disappointment. ‘Oh,’ he said sadly,’ I thought you were French.'

This time I was determined not to let that happen. Currently I am in Paris and I’m off to a very good start. On my first day a young man asked me for directions. (I shrugged and told him I didn’t live there). I made it to the wine store and found a lovely rosé. And I was even able to go to the Patisserie and order a baguette.

So on the second day I thought I’d venture out to a yoga class. I’m staying with my friend Clare, and she’s instructed me to the way of the locals. As she left for work she gave me a coffee, a street map, and tickets for the subway.

What I forgot to ask for were yoga pants, as I hadn’t thought to bring some. I called her at work, and with her permission, rummaged around in her drawers to find some. Triumphantly, I grabbed the first pair I saw and ran out the door to the metro. Barely making it on time, I managed to pay for my class, whip into the changing room and land on my mat within minutes. (Nothing makes a girl more French than being in a hurry).

The teacher came into the room and greeted us politely. I felt like he was smiling mostly at me and to be honest, I wasn’t surprised. After all, I was wearing the regulation striped T-shirt, my toes were freshly manicured, and (thanks to Dr H's magic scalpel) I have a flat tummy. All that was missing was a poodle and a beret.

As the class commenced I felt other Parisian eyes upon me. Could it be that I was the best in the class? On the side wall there was a mirror, and as I worked my way though downward dog glanced at my reflection. My goodness my shirt was cute. But oh-oh. My underwear was visible through my pants. And they were white, and they were squishing my bum so that it looked like I was in a rock-climbing harness. There were buldges everywhere! I hoped that if I stood up straight it wouldn’t be so obvious.

The next pose was a standing one, which was slightly better. My yoga pants, (which I found out later which actually just leggings) weren’t quite as see-through when I was erect. My top was still adorable, but there was something wrong with my face. In my hurry I hadn’t brushed on my eyebrows, and two red itchy stripes stared back at me. Mon Dieu! I didn’t look French at all. I barely looked human!  The thing I mostly resembled was a clown, which explains why people were smiling. The French love clowns almost as much as mimes, and in my outfit, I was a combination of both.

But being French comes from within, so with fake confidence I finished the class. After changing into some non see-through pants, I put on my giant sunglasses, went down to the subway, and elbowed some tourists out of my way.