During this last few months of visitors, my friends and I went to a rockin' vide grenier in the nearby village of Ventabren (I love this village mostly because the mayor is running the town from prison). I stood firm against the glassware, I turned away from the tools, I shied from that big, comfy chair that wouldn't have gone up my stairs anyway. And I continued to resist. Until I could no longer.
I love the old linens here in France. In days gone by, the trousseau of a newly married, young woman included numbers of linen or matise (linen and cotton) sheets, hand monogrammed with her new intitials and embellished with cutwork, embroidery and sometimes even lace. Some are very simple with very little sense of design or skill but most are a work of art. And there really is truly nothing more lovely than sleeping under a well washed, white linen sheet. Especially if it's beautiful and makes you feel like a princess.
As I passed table after table with an increasingly confident air of self discipline, I was stopped short by a sheet sitting on the top of a pile of linens. A sheet that not only was obviously 100% linen and had a great big monogram with flourishes, but it was edged across the top AND down the sides with a scalloped, handmade lace. Ooh la! I came to a screeching halt. I had to at least touch and admire, didn't I? And I got a story as well, which is my favorite part about buying these old things. Apparently this sheet was made for receiving visitors after a young woman has a child. It's made extra wide so it covers the bed all the way to the floor and and extra long so this beauty can be turned way back to perfectly frame the mother and child (perhaps French babies did not spit up). Anyway, I listened, oohed and ahhed, talked down the price, oohed and ahhed some more, and then did what I was getting so good at. Resisting. Yep, I walked away.
But later, I rejoined my friends and with a big, terminal case of non-buyers regret and I asked my friend Marcia to go back to that table and look at the sheet. Of course, I wanted her to ooh and ahh as well and assure me that I simply couldn't leave without it. We found the table again and I nearly jumped up and down when I saw it was still there. This would be mine. This would. Marcia's second opinion will give me no choice!
Marcia looked at it, reexamined it, and finally declared, "It says No."
"The monogram spells No."
I looked at it again and sure enough she was right.
With my brow furrowed in thought, I touched the sheet again, ran the lace between my fingers, stepped back, re-approached and finally, regretfully turned to the vendor who was waiting for his sure-fire sale.
"I am so sorry sir, but these initials spell the word No, which is the same as Non in French. I am a single woman. I simply cannot, as a single woman, risk having a sheet on my bed that says No. I think it would be bad luck or bad karma and I need all the luck I can get in that particular arena."
The gentleman burst out laughing and said "That's too bad." I'm not sure what he thought was too bad; that he lost a sale, or that I openly admitted that my love life is so obviously pathetic that I'm resorting to some sort of magic in the hope that things will pick up.
Later, I showed the photo of the sheet to my friend Paulette. She said it looks like Ho. I don't think I'm really going for that either. However, the more I thought about it, I realized that if you're looking at the sheet while actually in the bed, viewing the monogram upside down, it says On.
Now I'm thinking I should have bought it.