Those in the know are acutely aware that I have an entire wardrobe section devoted to stripes. Very French, you see. Yet more proof of the fact that living abroad, in France, was somewhere deep in my subconscious, for years.

I favor the Breton look. Those striped shirts were originally a naval sailor’s uniform, designed to help distinguish the sailors from the waves so they could be found more easily, if they fell overboard. Always thinking, these French…

The French navy hailed from Brittany, so the jersey was naturally coined the “Breton” and it had 21 stripes – one for each of Napolean’s victories against the British.

Coco Chanel became inspired by the naval stripes and famously used them in her 1917 nautical line. I love her perfume and a few articles of makeup, but I do not like her. She was an anti-semite, and therefor not worthy of another word.


By the 1930’s the Breton stripe had been elevated to ‘haute couture’ status, and I wave that flag in Howard’s face every time he comments on the excess of stripes that drape on me.

Not Breton haute couture. But…a Target special.

So imagine my chagrin, when one day the home Covid test lit up 2 horizontal lines, like a Christmas tree. These stripes were anything but fashion forward.

We had been living life. Traveling, packing for the impending move to the new house, visiting a whirligig of wonderful — my friend’s daughter — who we suspect was the unwitting carrier. I would not have missed meeting her for the world, and my motto has been, “it is coming for all of us” and it got me.

Oui, Madame. Vous êtes malade.

The meh feeling started Monday morning and by Tuesday I had the high fever, and a cough so dry it made my throat burn. I guzzled the last of our American supply of NyQuil and popped the final Mucinex pills, dug out of some old travel kit. Who has a care in the world about expiration dates?

Howard headed to the pharmacy to consult with the pharmacist, who sent him home with Paracetamol and a congestion relief tablet. For we Americans, Paracetamol is the deluxe version of Tylenol and Advil. And it really helped.

But that cough. Persistent. Like a barking seal. Spying a bottle of syrup that Howard had from a cold earlier in the month, I dove on it like it was home plate. French packaging is just so…impressive. And the flavor…caramel. Au revoir vile NyQuil!

I guzzled and swilled and for a possible 1.3 seconds thought of sweet relief. And then a chemical reaction ensued throughout my entire being. Every atom, cell, dendrite, vessel, islets of langerhans, gland, and all of the grey matter in my brain screamed. Not a French “sacré bleu!” but a good old fashioned American “NO FUCKING WAY!”

And I projectile vomited the caramel syrup. Merde.

No, no, and no.

I recovered from Covid. I was negative 2 days before the final signing on the house. But weakened considerably, for some time. And I coughed uncontrollably, which is much improved but rears up at the most inopportune times.

I love stripes, and am very thankful that I survived those 2 pink horizontal lines.

Allow me to take a moment to remember my colleague Carla, who left work after our Christmas party in 2020, and I never saw her again.


13 thoughts on “Stripes

  1. Avatar gail Pudaloff says:

    LOVE YOU DEARLY! And thanx for your wonderful ”GET” of Language, be it some ”french phrase”, a mention or 2 (or 3 or 8) of French or Breton STRIPES….talk about making ”it” so much more colorful and f-u-N!

    Love how much you are enjoying La Vie en France!! And if someone would have mentioned a handful of years ago, that they’d be corresponding to you ”en belle France” you’d probably be giggling your head off! But here you are, ‘swallowing IT ALL UP’ while enjoying each and every gulp’…to be sure!! And as your writing is so colorful, I can almost ”see” and ”smell” all that you’re talking about….lucky ME! Truly…am lovin’ every syllable!!!!

    Quick ?….as my dear ol’ brother used to be an English Prof. in one of a few US Universities, I know HE and his lovely wife would probably LOVE your ”Porcelaine Life”….is it a-ok for me to ”recommend” your ”TRAVELOGUE” to him as I know he (and she…aka ”Ross” and ”Diane” would truly enjoy your Travelogue and would soak it all in…..

    How lucky are we, your dearest buds to have these paragraphs to read, ”see” and ”feel” the Champs of flowers and all else that entices YOU! VEINARDE!! And I mean that in the nicest way possible!

    Sending you and your family bundles of loveLOVE in all sizes …. and hope to keep reading all about your ‘travels & ‘travaux’ that takes you in ….

    much love,

    1. Gail! You are so kind. Sorry for the delay. French Life gets in the way of everything! I thought I would have all the time in the world, and I am constantly chasing my tail…

      xx LL

  2. Avatar Martha Venter says:

    Quite charming- all of it. But then again ANYTHING about France m’affole! Tout est charmant. Merci! Bisous.

  3. Avatar Nelle says:

    Great post, L2! So glad you are feeling better and just in time! XO!

  4. Avatar Laurie says:

    Glad that you are on the way to feeling 100% again.

  5. Avatar Stephanie says:

    Glad you are feeling better & that Covid didn’t deter your love of stripes (one of my favorite French wardrobe staples)

  6. Yikes re covid, perhaps today’s version of going overboard.
    But the stripes, clearly they will live on!
    Glad you’re on the other side of C.

  7. Avatar Jaime Myers says:

    That dang Covid! Glad you are feeling better my friend!

  8. Avatar Steve says:

    I was expecting a review of the hilarious Bill Murray comedy “Stripes”. A good projectile vomit story alway makes for a decent consolation prize. Glad you guys are recovered and settled. Tell Howard I miss him yelling at me every time I play golf.

    1. And he misses you! We really do hope you will come in 2023.

  9. Avatar Karen says:

    Caramel cough syrup – nauseating!!! You look lovely in your stripes and so at home with your family at your beautiful French farmhouse – meant to be, for sure. So glad we’re neighbors 🙂

    1. Me too. And I am so glad I met the whirligig!

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