Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Non Buyers Remorse

I work very hard at not collecting things. I just can't forget how much agony and time it took to rid myself of all my possesions and collections the first two times. I do not want to do it again nor do I want to leave this horrendous chore to my boys. That being said,  I do LOVE a good vide grenier (village thrift sale) or brocante (thrift sale for older stuff). And if I do buy something, it's got to be something that I simply could not find in the United States or something I really, truly need. Like a drill. Or a vintage wool cape. Or a set of beautiful carved stone buttons. Or…okay, see the problem here?  There are numerous other criteria including how willing I am to throw something away in order to make room for the new treasure or if I'm prepared to give it away as a gift.

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.


PS. Regretfully, Provence Rugs is closing its virtual doors on December 20. Happily that means a 50% off savings for you! Check out the link on the side of my blog page. Think Christmas.


  1. I thought it said Ho too, which might actually give you more luck in bed.

  2. Hahaha, this post was hilarious!! Just the laugh I needed after a long day of work/travel. :)

  3. Well Delana…there is always another one, right? Maybe not quite the same, but maybe even better! Dare we ask the price??
    P.S. It IS gorgeous!!

  4. That did make me laugh....but I couldn't have resisted it whatever the monogram.

  5. Great post, i laughed out loud. You could adjust the sheet to match your mood!?

  6. Excellent post, I laughed out loud. You could consider adjusting the sheet to match your mood!?

  7. It's beautiful, but 100% linen? The idea of ironing it would be enough to put me off! Lovely story though.

  8. haha! hilarious.
    think that you can make gorgeous dresses from those old linens. next time i have to visit that town.

  9. I don't have time to go to the local vides, which is a good thing because, like you, I had a massive clear out before we came to France, so we are uncluttered by stuff. However.....should I start getting into the habit of going the local vides, then this uncluttered state is not likely to stay as is! Lovely sheet. Not sure whether I would have bought it, but I would most definitely have appreciated the fact that it was home made.

  10. Fun story, but my favorite part is that the mayor is running the town from prison.

    Sounds like the makings of a novel.

  11. My kind of expat story! Thanks for the laughs on a gray day in the Languedoc. Like you, I love flea markets but have a problem collecting too many things, that then have to be gotten rid of or hauled around the globe. Still, a romantic white bed sheet .... I see how you were (almost) seduced.

    A few weeks ago there was a fabulous "Grande Brocante" in the town of Pezenas here, and although I'm told it is not pc to add a link to your own blog, I thought you might like my tale of brocante wonders here: http://wp.me/pWIVP-qs

  12. Loved this ... and as a single woman, I completely understand your wish to keep any sort of potential bad ju-ju out of the bedroom.

  13. Glad you are back and in rare form as usual. This was too cute, especially the historical story behind the linen sheet. I can just picture you bartering with the local vendor in your Midwestern francais.

  14. It does look like a fabulous sheet though. Too bad.


  15. Hi, I really like your article.I have also enjoyed your blog and will continue to check in to read your posts. Happy New Year 2014. Thanks

  16. Whatever happened to you and your blog?

    1. Oh my...a comment on my blog! I'm still in France but working now and I just sort of let it go. I miss writing so much but I can't seem to make the time anymore. Thanks for asking though!


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