I have to start by apologising for returning so soon to the subject of condoms, but it’s nearly eleven o’clock in the evening and I need a short anecdote that will tickle ribs and take me a mere ten minutes to pen, so here it is.
When I first came over to France, nearly fifteen years ago, I spoke very dodgy French – at least, I spoke the sort of French you learn at school which has strictly nothing to do with real life French. But I learnt fast, mostly thanks to an extremely patient boyfriend (not this one – this one is about as unpatient as they get) who spoke English and French and took the time to say everything twice, once in each language. Anyway, one morning, on tour with the little Paris-based theatre company I was working with, I was in the hotel breakfast room eating croissants and what-not, and I tried some strawberry jam which tasted like it was 95% chemical additives, 4% sugar and 1% half a rotten strawberry. It really did taste like Cillit Bang – with a strawberry on top. So I called the hotel breakfast chap over from his coffee machine and told him that the jam seemed to be ram-packed with preservatives: “Il y a trop de preservatives dans cette confiture”. He flickered his nostrils (only French waiters know how to flicker nostrils; they learn it at French waiter school alongside various other nasal techniques designed to express disgust, contempt and pity whilst retaining a killer condescending smile) and replied, “non Madamoiselle, ici en France on ne met pas de preservatives dans notre confiture.” And he turned back to his mini-butter organisation. Of course, I’ve rather pre-empted this story by giving you the punchline in the title. ‘Preservative’ in French means condom. Beware. And if ever you find yourself in a situation with a French man who asks if you use preservatives, at least you now know he’s not talking about salting hams nor using hardcore anti-age creams. Although he might be. They’re very kinky those French men.