Three weeks with the unicorn has flown by…I’ve settled pretty easily into rural French life.  This has been made easier by the fact that Franz seems to survive mostly on tea, cheese, and dark chocolate.  He is, however, quite adamant about never eating the same thing twice for lunch and finding ways to use the massive quantities of fruit his garden is producing.  Yesterday we had raspberry and apricot tart (home made bien sur and in trying to find the circonflex accent to put over the u I have just made this entire post italicized and cant figure out how to change it back.  Good god, so much for trying to accuracy in my French.  Let this be a lesson to myself.) and today, since it is raining, we are making peach compote.
The crazy Frenchman Jose left about a week ago, thank goodness, but not before leaving both Maria and Franz detailed letters under their doors about how they could improve themselves by using such and such methods of psychotheraphy.  Oh and they got stickers too.  I didn’t get a letter, either because he hates Americans (Franz told me that when I cut off one of Jose’s speeches to go watch the World Cup final with Maria he spent the next hour complaining about American youths…I just… yeah young Americans are really disrupting world culture with their CRAZED LOVE OF SOCCER.  Oh wait.) or has decided that I am mentally sound.  Either way, I’m offended.
Maria stayed for an extra few days though, which was nice.  We visited Rouen, where they have a really freaky massive effing cross in the spot where the British bruleed Joan of Arc.  And a museum of iron work, which was actually pretty cool.  Old locks and keys are fascinating, and no I’m not being facetious.  After Maria left, Franz and I visited Honfleur, which is a very pretty and very touristy town by the sea and has some of the most terrifyingly kitschy art galleries I’ve ever seen. 
Sidenote:  I had an ice cream cone in Honfleur.  Salted caramel and marron glace.  It will haunt my dreams.
We also drive around to look at antiques and old Manor houses.  I’ve been getting all these lessons in 17th and 18th century French decorative arts from my unicorn.
 Speaking of unicorns, Franz doesn’t know it, but he cracks me up: 
1.  Like most unicorns, instead of walking, Franz either skips or prances.   He also holds his hands out at a 45 degree angle from his wrists, palms to the ground.
2.  He doesn’t drink alchohol because the fumes hurt him if it’s too strong (spirits), or he thinks it just tastes like rancid juice (wine). 
3.  He wears only black in the country and only white in cities. 
4.  He wants a garden with only white flowers.  There’s a bed of the most beautiful poppies with red and orange and pink flowers and one of my jobs is to pick all the colors out leaving only the white.  I put them in a vase every day and leave them on the kitchen table while we eat lunch, but Franz makes me take them toomy room at night because the reds are “too violent” and will disrupt his sleep if I don’t firmly enclose them in my own chambers.  Seriously.
5.  When he was a jazz singer he used to paint his face like a cross between a cast member of Cats and cracked-out mime.
6.  He is firmly convinced that he has a perfect “upper class” British accent when he speaks English.  However, he also loves to mimic “vulgar” British accents like cockney, and also believes he does this perfectly.  I do not have the heart to inform him otherwise.
7.  The other day, he interrupted his sentence declaring that he didn’t like men who were too “pouffy,” to tell me that he couldn’t possibly help me open the jam jar I was struggling with because his wrists were too delicate.
He’s great.  Oh, and he wears short shorts.  Beh oui, he’s French after all.  
Paris in a couple days, where I get to see my old friend Simon!  And then, in what will possibly be the most dangerous segment of my journey, I head to Budapest with distant acquaintances Chaney and Mo. 

I am no longer alone with the unicorn.  Two other WWOOFers have joined us in our crumbling farmhouse: Jose, a 60 year old Parisian, and Maria, an Italian in her late 30s.  WWOOFers do tend to be in their 20s, but hey.  Maria is very nice.  We’ve been biking the 6km to the sea in order to find a place to watch the World Cup games as Franz doesn’t own a TV and the town we’re in–if you can call it that–has only one bar, and it closes at 8.  Which makes tons of sense. It’s a great little ride though, through the fields of wheat and red poppies, cows, wild roses, those farmhouses with the thatched roofs, etc.  And the sleepy little seaside town we head to also has only one bar/restaurant with a TV, but the owners are football fans and during the two games of the semi-finals the place has been full of either German or Dutch tourists.  The first game, I walked in while Maria was locking up the bikes and the owner asked me, increduously, “Are you Dutch, then?  You are very tan.”

“Non monsieur, en fait je suis americaine.”

“You can’t be American.  You are here to watch the match and you speak French.  You are Dutch–or perhaps, South American.”

…ok…that makes perfect sense.  Guess I’m rooting for Holland in the finals. 

While Maria and I get along quite well in our struggling French, Jose…well…Jose asked me what I thought the meaning of life was on the second day I knew him, and then tried to trap me into admitting that eating animals was immoral.  I told him that I didn’t care about his opinions on philosophy and that they’d have to pry the bacon from my cold, dead fingers before I became a self-righteous vegetarian.  (My French is improving.) In retrospect, that was a little rude, but Maria and I had been on a (mercifully) short drive with him to check out the beach and GOOD GOD.  I think he might have touched the steering wheel only when we were in danger of hitting something and instead used his hands to gesticulate as he TURNED TO FACE ME IN THE BACK SEAT while telling some damn fool story about his readings in psychotheraphy.

…Jose has actually just interrupted me.  He has given me a gift.  It is a sticker.  It reads:

L’être humain n’existe que dans sa relation à l’autre. 

Translation: Human beings don’t exist except for their relationships to one another.  Loosely, anyway.  He is so strange.  What the hell is this supposed to mean?  Where did he get this?  WHY DOES HE CARRY SUCH STICKERS ON HIS PERSON?

Mealtimes are always fun because they consist of me, Maria, and Franz all trying to head Jose off before he begins one of his 3 hour lectures on sh*t he’s learned in life.  Speaking of meals, I have some work to do before dinner so I’m going to get on that.  Imagine: Franz is letting me wrestle a 5M high, 100M long massively overgrown hedge back into a straight line, with an ancient and razor sharp pair of shears!  I realized yesterday that flip flops were not the optimal footwear for such an assignment.

Let the betting on when I lose a limb or finger begin.