Having gone for the chop in March and then re-chopped in May, July, and September, I have decided that I am bored with my short hair. So, off I embark on a long, embarrasing journey of hair-growing. This will of course mean going through various stages of very dodgy haircuts,
If I blow dry my hair I look like Princess Diana.
I would rather look like an onion or a mushroom than Princess Diana.
Soon my hair will grow a few inches and I will look like Purdey.
(now, she really does look like a mushroom).
And then I’ll be more of a George Harrison Beatle.
And then a Stone. A Rolling One.
But at the moment it is definitely an onion look. When I said this to a couple of my friends the other day, the male one of the two cracked up. I thought it was because I had made an absolutely spot-on judgement concerning my haircut and the vegetable it is best at imitating, but no. It turns out that in French “onion” means “vagina”. It took me a few minutes to understand why. I ran through a few theories in my head. Do French fannies smell of onions? Are onions used for curing venereal diseases? Do most French men cry when they have sex? (Not the ones I’ve met … maybe I’m doing something wrong. Or right). Is it to do with peeling bits back? Or off? OW. I frowned at my friend questioningly. He grinned and mimed chopping an onion in half and then outlined the pointy-at-both-ends curvy oval form of the layers. Oh. I see. So we could also say that “almond” or “eye” or “certain Christmas decorations” are also nicknames for vagina. In any case, with this context in mind, he finds it very funny that I think I look like an onion.
Coincidentally, that same evening I read Chapter 3 (“I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!”) of Caitlin Moran’s new book “How To Be A Woman”. Sister One sent me the book for my birthday and when I read the title I thought “right, so she thinks I’m STILL not a woman, I’m STILL a hardcore tomboy, despite going through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, a reputation for wearing miniskirts too short to be seen with the naked eye, inventing my own 2-second t-shirt folding technique and wearing rubber gloves on a daily basis.” But when I started reading it I realised that Caitlin Moran is also a hardcore tomboy and that in fact, the term Hardcore Tomboy roughly translates as Strident Feminist. Caitlin may well throw this theory to the ground and mud-wrestle it until it croaks its final splutter, but I think I might have a thing going here – one I need to develop further when I don’t have aubergines burning in the wok. Anyway, Chapter 3 talks about what we call our bits. Our breasts and vaginas. Or rather, what a strange range of words are used by various men, women and wierdos to refer to their bits. Caitlin covers most of them, from Flower to Hole to Minge to La-la to Tinkle to Bush to Honeypot to Flaps to Cunt to Newport Pagnell Service Station (erm, that last one isn’t in her book). It is fascinating, at least to those of us even vaguely interested in fanny etymology. And of course, here in France there is a whole new range of names. “La Chatte”, for a female cat, is the equivalent of our rather soft, yet stale, porn-film-generated ‘pussy’, and in French is quite vulgar, or so L’Homme tells me. “Foufoune” sounds like fanny and is the word children use to refer to their front bottom. So do I actually, probably because I have learnt a lot of my French vocabulary along with my kids. I quite like “touffe” – although it sounds like toffee, NOT a good thing to put down your pants. But “onion”?! I simply cannot imagine ANY Frenchwoman saying “I must get my onion looked at by my gynaecologist”, or “I shouldn’t have waxed my onion just before going swimming”. Oh, of course – the women don’t use this word at all – it’s the men who do.
In this context, my unfortunate hairstyle, which I have taken to referring to as “onion head” or “tête d’oignon”, may well, to French ears, sound like a sexual technique. This is not what I want to imply. I simply think I look like a common or garden onion. Not a look to boast about, I know, but it’s quite a liberating feeling to go out into the big wide world looking slightly ridiculous and not being able to do anything about it. You just accept it and get on with things. And a lot less lorry drivers ogle at you. Or at your onion.
(Footnote : the French can’t believe we use the word “Fanny” to refer to their “foufoune”. There are about a thousand new little baby Fannys born each year in France.)