Death in a French WC


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Friday was our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary, Patricia and me. I posted an old photo on Twitter and we got lots of lovely well-wishes over the social medias. It was all very nice.

In the evening, we went out for dinner to celebrate how damn lucky we were to find each other and to eat some food as well, obviously.

A local restaurant was having a French evening and we went there. If you know I live in a small town on the west coast of Ireland, you may be tempted to think that a French evening might be a bit of a joke but that was not the case. This local restaurant, Rua, (Irish for ‘red’) would take the Pepsi challenge with any restaurant I’ve ever eaten in anywhere. Not only is it good, it’s damn good. On this particular evening, it was actually très bien.

We had some moules and some canard and some crepe for dessert as well as a big old Cotes du Rhone. It was a very good meal. About half way through, a French couple came in and there was perhaps a subtle worry that they may tear the place up, declaring that this wasn’t ‘French’ at all but, no, they seemed to enjoy it too.

It all reminded me of the first time I went to France and ate in a restaurant there. I was in Grenoble for a week, working, and was brought out one evening by a work colleague. It was just the two of us and it was a small intimate kind of a place. The food was also very good, as I recall.

I remember two things in particular from that evening. The first was that I had a very-late-night espresso after my dinner and, although I’m well-accustomed to coffee, this one has me pacing the floor for half the night before I could even think about sleeping.

Or maybe it wasn’t the coffee. Maybe it was that second thing I remember from that evening.

Towards the end of dinner, after the expresso, I decided I should visit the toilets. I had identified that they were through a small door in the wall as I had seen people come and go from there throughout the evening. I excused myself from the table and made my way to that door, working my way through the tightly packed and busy tables.

Just as I got there, a woman stepped up in front of me and beat me to the door. Being the eternal old fashioned gentleman, I held the door for her, allowed her to go in, and then followed her through the door, closing it carefully after me.

I mean, how was I supposed to know? I thought, not unreasonably, that the door led to a lobby which would in turn lead to a male and female toilet. Nuh huh. I turned from the door to find the lady standing beside the sole toilet in the room, looking at me expectantly, no doubt wondering what it was, exactly, that I had in mind.

I don’t blush much. I blushed then though, I reckon. I muttered a nervous ‘désolé’, hastily threw open the door, and rushed back out into the restaurant. As I closed the door from the outside and leaned my head against it, the refined, reserved, restaurant patrons all erupted in loud cheers and applause for me. It was clear that everyone in the place knew the toilet arrangements. Everyone except me.

Last night, I saved up going to the loo until I got back home.

At least I know the rules there.

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