Boob envy.

My first 6 months in Paris I didn’t have much going on. My freelance “career” hadn’t gotten much farther than building a neat-o portfolio website and this here blog. French class was always on some kind of 2 week vacation. So I filled in the hours tracking down random people with whom I had tenuous connections at best and asking them to meet me for coffee. I don’t even drink coffee. But I needed friends and advice on French living, so I put myself out there knowing that there’s a kind of special friendliness code among expats. They’ve all been there on a rainy day talking to the walls out of sheer loneliness, so they’re usually willing to throw a fellow foreigner a life-preserver or two.

Most of these blind friend-dates turned into really good friends. Some didn’t. One of the epic failures was a woman around my age who was a successful writer and had just completed a book. I thought, hey! I want to be a writer! Maybe we can talk writing! Maybe she can offer some sage advice to another diplomat spouse stuck in a foreign land with no job! I was sure she’d want to take me under her wing, at least for the afternoon.

Sadly it ended up being the most awkward 20 minutes of my life. When I told her I was thinking about pitching a few ideas to magazines and asked if she had any tips, she said “Yeah, it’s really hard.” Crickets.

When I brought up her book and said I looked forward to reading it, she said “Thanks.” Crickets.

When I asked if she had any advice for a writer just starting out in Paris, she said “There’s a lot of competition. You should really try to work on a longer-form project, like a book.”

At that point I said “thanks” and made some excuse about having to catch the metro home. She looked relieved and practically bolted out the door. I sniffed my armpits to make sure I wasn’t the problem and sulked all the way back to the 17th.

So much for writer’s camaraderie. I decided she probably didn’t drink champagne anyway so no love lost. But the book idea stayed with me. And when I got pregnant and became saddled with the most ridiculous boobs in the history of boob-dom, I knew I had my topic: the history of breasts.

Ok, so it probably wouldn’t earn me a PEN/Faulkner award or a Pulitzer. But I would be able to put all my recent boob-related google searches to good use. And I’d be able to finally answer all those boob questions that have been gnawing at me for years, like why do we only have 2 nipples? And what sadist invented the breast pump? And why does the size of the boob not correspond to the amount of boob-juice it can make?

I pictured a well-researched yet funny tome in the vein of Mary Roach’s Bonk. I even started a bibliography. Then I had a baby and all my big plans went to hell in a hand basket. But the soul of my dream project lived on, waiting patiently to come to fruition.

And while I waited, this damn lady went and wrote my book.

What the hell!? I’d be really angry except it sounds really good. I mean, if I’m being totally honest, this woman probably covered the topic way more thoroughly than I ever could, “flying all over the world to interview more boob experts than you can shake a pasty at.” I don’t have any experts to shake pasties at other than Cynthia the “fit specialist” at my favorite lingerie store.

So I guess I’ll just have to read the book I should have written and go back to the drawing board for my “long-form project.” I’ll totally have time to tackle that with two infants crawling around my apartment in the dead of Austrian winter, right?


Vocab Friday: Seriously?

I’d really like to stop talking about my boobs. Honestly. But the world just won’t let me forget just how freakishly obscene they are right now. And that means you get to hear all about it. So, earmuffs children. Or maybe eyepatches. Either way, it’s about to get personal up in here.

Because last week as I was hauling my suitcase up the hill to the airport shuttle at 7am, waddling and visibly pregnant, a lone Parisian garbage truck driver took it upon himself to honk in my direction. And as I glanced over to see what all the fuss was about, I saw that he was hanging out window, open mouthed, cupping the air with both hands in front of his chest in an obscene-looking gesture that I could only interpret as “Hey lady! Nice elephant tits!

Seriously. What kind of world do we live in? On what planet is that necessary? And what, exactly, are slimy guys hoping to achieve by making drive by catcalls to pregnant ladies? It was certainly not quite the sendoff I was hoping for. Thank god I was leaving the godforsaken sexist streets of Europe for the kinder, more polite folks in North Carolina.

But not 45 minutes after my arrival in the genteel south, I was greeted warmly by a CVS cashier lady in Charlotte who thought it completely appropriate to ask, “Girl, when are you due? Look at them big ol’ titties!

I stood speechless for a minute. Clearly she meant well. But did she honestly just say big old titties? Yes. Yes she did. So I smiled and told her the baby was due in July. And then considered buying some oversize trash bags to drape over myself to avoid any further confrontations.

Seriously, are my nipples alone an open invitation to say the first inappropriate thing that comes to mind? I mean, if that’s the case, let’s just go ahead and get it all out there now while I still find it relatively funny and my hormones haven’t reached peak scariness. Because at some point I might snap and start wielding these things as deadly weapons in response. You know, crushing people’s skulls with the weight of one breast and such.

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le nichon (luh nee-shaugh) – boob or tit.

le sein (luh sai) – breast

la poitrine (lah pwah-treen) – chest

As in,

“I’m so glad we can all have a good laugh about my nichons. Seriously, the sein jokes never get old!”

Vocab Friday: Boulder holder

Being someone who likes to call herself a “writer” and also someone who lives in Paris, I thought I’d go ahead and make my cliché status official by signing up for a writing workshop at a coffee place right around the corner from Hemingway’s house.

And not just any coffee place– the carrot cake from heaven place. The price for the 7 week class includes tea and a slice of cake at each meeting. How could I not sign up?

Anyway, Wednesday was class #2. It’s a really interesting group of women, young and old, from all over the place, from all different backgrounds. Everyone seems nice and sane so far. The teacher is a lovely Welsh woman who happens to also be pregnant, and during a break in conversation she asked how I was feeling.

But before I could really answer, the rather forward Irish lady at the end of the table leaned over and said, “Dear god, are you pregnant too? I was wondering why your boobs were so huge!”

And as I sat there speechless for a beat, another woman chimed in. “Yeah, they are really big.”


I’m not usually accustomed to near strangers commenting on the size of my chest. But to my classmates’ credit, my bazooms are huge. Like, they were pretty big to begin with, and now thanks to the miracle of life we’ve leapt past Pam Anderson territory and landed at the circus big. I should be in a tent out back with the bearded lady charging admission for a peek.

And sadly, I knew this day would come. Ever since the wide-eyed stares in the middle school locker room. Ever since I was asked to be the mascot of the Bombs. Ever since my doctor advised me to invest in more heavy-duty brassieres to avoid becoming a hunchback. Ever since then, I knew that if I ever got pregnant, I’d have to hire a midget to walk in front of me with his arms up, holding my boulders in place.

Because you know what’s harder to find than a midget willing to serve as a human bra? A bra that actually fits my lady bits.

It was hard enough in the States when these things were smaller. But here I am in Paris, a city filled with a million beautiful lingerie shops, not one of which seems to carry anything bigger than a C cup. Even before the pregnancy boob fairy roughed me up I found it difficult. I once pleaded with a sales lady to help me find my size, only to be met with a look of horror and a brusque “N’existe pas!

And after I nearly blinded a woman on the other side of the waiting room when my coat button popped off from the sheer stress of holding my chest in, I decided I needed to act fast. So I went home and found Linda the Bra Lady online, and ordered up some of the biggest boobie slings I’ve ever seen.

Did you know that cups come in size FF? As in, W. T. F?  F!

Or how about G? As in, Good god how are you standing upright?

Well, I’m here to tell you they do. And like many aspects of being pregnant, it ain’t pretty. I’m also still holding out hope for a good, strong Parisian midget, so if you know one, please do let me know.

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Pronunciation: sootee-ehn gorje

Definition: Brassiere. Bra. Boulder holder. As in,

“The cup size of my soutien-gorge is bigger than my head. And I have a big head.”

Hey, want more boob vocabulary? I’ve got you covered.



100 Funny Things.

This is officially my 100th post – Cue the fireworks and free bottles of champagne! Yaaaahoooooooweeeee!

(I’m totally ignoring the fact that this being only my 100th post in about a year means I really need to try harder to post more often. But who wants to rain on their own champagne infused parade? Let’s just consider it New Year’s Resolved.)

Looking back through all my anecdotes and diatribes has made me realize just how much we’ve all learned over the past year. You readers are so totally prepared for life in France now! You’ve got Paris covered, no sweat. Why? Because I’ve shared all there is to know about dog poo covered sidewalks and how to call someone a “nice beetch.” You know all about hoo-ha molds, danger bees, and of course, baby jesus in velvet pants. You have been well versed in the many merits of champagne and pain au raisins for breakfast. And the looming danger of butter brain.

And let’s not forget the informative pieces on pictogram ovens, boob vocabulary and most importantly, sharts.

There have been bike trips and toenail clippings, giant vats of chocolate mousse and master bites. There were lessons on pre-pubescent pickpockets and avoiding Sephora at all costs. I’ve given you the lowdown on castle dwelling in the Loire, excessive wine sipping in Bordeaux, and tan seeking on the Cote d’Azur. I’ve shared the critical details of proper Oktoberfest attire. And just for your sake, I’ve repeatedly tasted and reported on eating oysters, rabbit, rare steaks, pigs feet, kilos of pizza, duck fat fried anything, beignets, baguettes, croissants, pâté, fois gras, pork belly, and cheese. Lots and lots of runny, dead-body-smelling cheese.

After all that, I’d be shocked – SHOCKED! – if you felt you needed a real travel guide to France. Fodors and Lonely Planet? Pshaw. They’ll just recommend a bunch of touristy restaurants and point you straight toward hell on earth, otherwise known as the Louvre. Me? I’ll show you how to get nice and tipsy at the perfect picnic, then make an ass out of yourself trying to speak french to the locals.

So yes. You’re welcome.

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Update: I’m back, I’m no longer jet-lagged, and I’m ready to write. So we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming starting next week!

Search humor.

My blog has recently popped up in the results for the following google searches:

  • spandex pants
  • boob vocabs
  • naked french guy

Now if that isn’t a ringing endorsement for the material on UnlikelyDiplomat, I don’t know what is! But I can’t help but wonder – What kind of person is searching for “boob vocabs?” And did I deliver what they were looking for?

Vocab Friday: The Boob Edition.

Oh my holy crap did I learn so many good things today! But before I share, can I just take a moment to say that I love my french teacher? Not the one who gives me withering stares. The other one. The one who is so incredibly fun and enthusiastic, who makes me practice my conversation skills for at least an hour, who teaches me awesome things like how to say “hoo-ha mold.”

She is the bright shining star of what has been an otherwise painful and embarrassing journey through foreign language land. Sure, we study some grammar and practice verb conjugation. But there’s always time for a quick cultural aside, a brief lecture on the dirtiest of street slang. That’s why this woman should get the highest award in my book. Where the others are teaching me how to read and write, maybe even speak a little bit, this woman is teaching me the art of french communication!

And it’s all thanks to her that I can share with you today these wonderful sayings. Don’t ask me how we got on this subject – just enjoy Vocab Friday: The Boob Edition*.

  • Lesson 1: If you see an ample-bosomed lady who’s maybe spilling out of her top, you might lean over to your friend and say:

Heh, Il y a du monde au balcon.”

Definition:  Heh, It’s crowded on the balcony.

Hilarity factor: High.

  • Lesson 2: If you perhaps feel the need to comment on someone’s itty bitties, you could snark:

“Elle a des boutons de culottes.”

Definition: She’s got pants buttons (for boobs).

  • Lesson 3: If you happen to see some lucky guy dancing with a lady who has du monde au balcon, you’d elbow your buddy and say:

“On a la vue sur tout Paris!”

Definition: He/We’ve got a view of all of Paris!

Yes, french is officially the most awesome language in the world. You’re welcome, and happy weekend.

*Bien sur, this is a cheap and tawdry attempt to grab your attention away from World Cup.

Brassiere or brasserie?

Haute Couture Fashion Week is wrapping up here in Paris and I haven’t seen a single starlet traipsing around in high fashion. But I did find myself at the Salon International de Lingerie, where I saw many women (and one man) walking around in their underwear.

This annual convention of undergarments is primarily geared towards industry folks looking for the latest in spandex and lace. I snagged a seat for the fashion show, and set to work pretending it was Bryant Park, with more skin.

Now, it seems to me that the French must take their lingerie very seriously. I was with a group of older women who could not stop oohing and ahhing over every balconnet bra and garter set that came down the catwalk. I was the only one that giggled when a pregnant model strutted her stuff in a line of racy nursing bras called Hot Milk. I started to suspect that everyone around me was most definitely wearing a pair of silky knickers that actually matched their bra.

It made me feel a little insecure about my own comparably grannyish underpinnings (imagine that! A bunch of french models in thongs made me feel super lame!). And the US/French size conversion doesn’t help matters much – let’s just say there are A LOT more centimeters than inches.

But still, I feel compelled to step up my game. So I’m going to visit some lingerie shops. I’m going to try on some fancy french underoos. I am most definitely going to make a complete arse out of myself with the french salesladies. And of course I’ll let you know how it goes. What are friends for after all!