petite anglaise

May 19, 2005

pole dancing

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:51 pm

The metro doors open with a shudder and the floodgates open. I stand well back to let everyone past, but still manage to get buffeted and elbowed in the ribs. I don’t know what it is about wearing headphones, but with them on I am noticeably clumsier. I gauge distances badly, I tread on toes and am unable to weave in and out of crowds with my customary ease.

Safely inside, I manoeuvre myself into a position where I can grasp the metal pole in the standing area at a comfortable height. The carriage is bursting at the seams; the air is damp and thick. A woman folds herself into the crook of my arm, obscuring my view of the pole and making it difficult to hold on with her weight bearing onto me. Her hair is pulled back into a slick ponytail, and whatever she has used on it that morning causes me to fight back a sneeze.

As the train pulls away into the tunnel, I feel a clammy, insistent pressure against my curled palm and recoil inwardly. Certain types of unsollicited physical contact with strangers make me very uncomfortable, even if it is only the feather-light graze of an unknown hand against mine.

I inch my hand higher up the pole. Undeterred, the hand follows my lead, applying insistent pressure, so that my skin prickles with revulsion. I can’t decide whether to withdraw my hand altogether, relying on the fact that I’m so tightly wedged up against my fellow passengers that I won’t fall over, even if the driver chooses to slam on the brakes, or to steel myself to endure the surreptitious hand mauling all the way to my destination.

I choose a third option. I don’t have much in the way of fingernails. But just enough. I hear a sharp intake of breath and feel the hand fall away.

Petite 1 – anonymous hand fetishist 0


Mr Frog and I were out shopping. We had just started working and the novelty of having a ‘proper job’ after all those relatively poverty stricken student years had not yet worn off. The metro was moderately crowded and we were standing at opposite sides of the pole, discussing where to take a break from our orgy of spending for a bite to eat.

An attractive young couple shared ‘our’ pole, along with two or three other strangers of various ages whose faces are just a blur in my memory. I don’t recall what the couple were wearing, or the colour of their hair, only that their eyes were locked together: they were wrapped up in each other, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Without taking his eyes of her for a second, the man leaned forward to kiss her hand gently, but deliberately. Her pupils widened in shock. The hand was pulled away, sharply; an older woman, standing nearby, gasped and flushed a deep shade of crimson.

It took us a second or two to register what had happened.


  1. oh man, did he kiss the wrong hand? heh. classic.

    Comment by brando — May 19, 2005 @ 6:50 pm

  2. Bonjour P.A :D

    Les barres de métro, les rampes, les systèmes d’ouverture de portes de métro … de vraies sources de germes … l’horreur.

    J’espère que vous vous lavez les mains (chez vous, au travail, dans un café etc…) quand vous pouvez après avoir toucher ces sources de contamination.

    C’est pas de la parano vis à vis de microbes, mais le métro étant particulièrement fréquentés, manger un sandwich, tenir la main de MrGrenouille voire de Miss Tétard … sans se laver les mains … RED ALERT !!!

    J’évite autant que possible de tenir la barre ou d’ouvrir la porte du métro …

    Ah! 19h22, l’heure du repas :)

    Comment by bob — May 19, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

  3. eugh! I was just thinking about this today, (well poles and germs on the train)…ick ick ick. and unsolicited human contact is icky… it must be an english thing. I love holding hands, brushing against etc people I like. but people I don’t like or know touching me without permission makes me shiver.

    Comment by vit — May 19, 2005 @ 8:17 pm

  4. bob – Red alert?!!?

    I know it’s not clean in the metro, but what ever is? Sorry, but I’m a opponent of anti-bacterial cleaning products and a firm believer in children eating dirt.

    Perhaps a pair of surgical gloves might make you feel better?

    Comment by petite — May 19, 2005 @ 8:29 pm

  5. YAY Petite! Good for you. Now, imagine, being a dirtophile and living in a clean obsessed country. Grrrrr. that’s me. I have to feed my children earth when the pt family ain’t looking.

    But, what made me think today was I was watching this woman on the train, and she coughed into her hand, a nice thing to do to stop the germiewermies flying around, then put her phlegmy hand right on the pole. second hand phlegm.

    Comment by vit — May 19, 2005 @ 10:03 pm

  6. Bluegrass Mama recommended I come to visit. You have a nice blog. “Mama” has great taste, eh?

    Comment by Paul — May 19, 2005 @ 10:33 pm

  7. I’m going out to kiss my car (aka ONLY mode of transportation).

    I will also stop complaining about having to play kids music in there. If THAT is the only problem I have while commuting, that’s cupcakes!

    Comment by AJ — May 19, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

  8. Petite Froglaise, always refreshing to read your columns.

    Next time around, try handcuffing anonymous hand fetishist, 2-0 game over.


    Comment by Zed0 — May 19, 2005 @ 11:43 pm

  9. tar and feathers isnt bad either

    Comment by Zed0 — May 19, 2005 @ 11:43 pm

  10. If you think the Paris Metro is Dirty try the London Tube! You have to clean your nose … it’s all black!!

    Comment by Andy — May 20, 2005 @ 2:10 am

  11. blargh!!!! urk, ick, yuk, blerk, aaaarrrrggggghhhhh!!!!! I don’t think I’m ever going to complain about the not so crowded Sydney trains again! Yukky, yukky yuuuuuukkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Miss Lisa — May 20, 2005 @ 3:09 am

  12. Dear Petite, I don’t know what you’re referring to in your “endings” post but please accept my condolences. I’ll be thinking about you.

    Karen in Massachusetts

    Comment by Karen — May 20, 2005 @ 7:37 pm

  13. I have read and reread your endings post, I don’t know to what you are referring but i felt I had to post to you, to say that my thoughts are with you.

    Comment by Ellie — May 20, 2005 @ 8:05 pm

  14. Petite,

    I read every day and relish every word. Your endings today was moving and confusing.

    My thoughts are with you – chin up!

    Comment by Lucy — May 20, 2005 @ 8:12 pm

  15. so very sorry to read about the end of your and mr frog. courage dear girl.

    Comment by michelle — May 20, 2005 @ 8:13 pm

  16. I know what you are going through. Been there myself. Take care of you right now. I am sending my best wishes to you.

    Comment by Lisa — May 20, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

  17. Petite,

    So it seems there are times when even you cant say the words clearly. Just a cryptic message, perhaps the one who does understand is the one its meant for.This is just an outlet for pent up feelings. Whatever the cause I wish you well….all three of you!

    Comment by Colin — May 20, 2005 @ 9:24 pm

  18. I’ve never met you but I’ve actually been worrying about you all afternoon. I hope you will be with us soon. xxx

    Comment by Satsuma — May 20, 2005 @ 9:30 pm

  19. I too, like the others, got a shock in reading Endings. I wait in anticipation to hear that you and Tadpole are ok. If what it seems you and frog are fini…then my heart goes out to you in support. We all hope to hear from you soon.

    Comment by Narelle — May 20, 2005 @ 10:10 pm

  20. Courage, petite. You have us worried but confident in your decision, whatever it ended up being.

    Comment by ludivine — May 20, 2005 @ 10:14 pm

  21. Ohh Petite, I just read your update..I am so so sorry to hear…over here in Australia with tears streaming down my face…my thoughts are with you

    Comment by Narelle — May 20, 2005 @ 10:16 pm

  22. Endings are the start to new beginnings… Something to share with you “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”…

    Comment by yin — May 20, 2005 @ 10:35 pm

  23. I stopped by for the first time today and read your beautiful, sad “endings” post. I’m so sorry this is happening. I’ll be thinking good thoughts in your direction.

    Comment by Jugglernaut — May 20, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

  24. Comment by Flare — May 20, 2005 @ 11:45 pm

  25. Are you really, really, really, really sure? She’s such a tiny tadpole and it’s so difficult growing up with your parents apart.

    Comment by Lesley — May 20, 2005 @ 11:58 pm

  26. Oh, Petite – as I’m sure you know, you have the thoughts of thousands with you. It’s the wrong time for clich&eacutes, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end – and this is just a new beginning for you. Whatever happens, though – take good care of Tadpole.

    Comment by dafyd — May 21, 2005 @ 12:44 am

  27. :'(

    Comment by wiLLoØ — May 21, 2005 @ 12:46 am

  28. Will it shock you if I say it didn’t suprise me? I somehow sensed unease in your posts at times. It did, however, upset me and I am going to keep my fingers crossed for your better future. With much love to you and the little one.

    Comment by Sam — May 21, 2005 @ 3:07 am

  29. I respect and understand your wishes for no comments.

    But I wanted to remind you, that you are in the thoughts of a vast online community. I have never met you before, but today I worried about you and tadpole. Whatever happends, and however it may seem today, remember, that in the end, things always turn out for the best!

    Comment by juliana — May 21, 2005 @ 3:12 am

  30. Endings are also opportunities for new beginnings. I admire your courage in doing what you know in your heart is right, even though painful. Peace to you all.

    Comment by Lisa — May 21, 2005 @ 3:34 am

  31. Oh petite, I’m so sorry! I hope our appreciation of your talents, and the knowledge that so many of us are thinking of you and wishing you well, will comfort you somewhat. Some things are meant to be, or meant not to be, and you are smart enough to have figured out that sometimes the best thing to do is to move on rather than to cling to something that is wrong. Not an easy decision to make though, no matter how convinced you are that it is the right one.

    I worry that you need some ‘real life’ friends to support you through this as well as those of us online.

    Comment by Susan — May 21, 2005 @ 4:31 am

  32. When I found out that Mr. Frog refused to marry you, I was a bit incensed. Being more conservative, I think that people should get married to demonstrate devotion to each other and to other people. I am sad to see that you two are breaking up, but I am also happy to see that you have a new beginning.

    Comment by Bob — May 21, 2005 @ 8:47 am

  33. By the way. You ARE a very good writer. Think about that if it gets too much and you need something to cheer yourself up. I know between work and Tadpole you’ll have difficulty finding the time to do something with your talent but think of all those great women writers of the past. They got up in the small hours and resorted to all sorts of measures to find the time. Don’t waste your potential.

    Comment by Satsuma — May 21, 2005 @ 9:43 am

  34. I have been a long time reader and admirer of your blog and can’t believe that the first time I am commenting is to say… I’m so sorry.
    I hope that things work out as you want them to.
    Best wishes to you and Tadpole. And Mr Frog too, wherever these paths may go.

    Comment by OvaGirl — May 21, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  35. Oh petite, I am so sorry! What can anyone say?

    You and little tadpole will be in my thoughts today, and those of all who read your blog.

    Be strong

    Comment by Cat — May 21, 2005 @ 11:14 am

  36. So sorry to hear this Petite. On the upside however, at least you wont have to visit the evil inlaws anywhere near as much anymore

    Comment by beckyjsbx — May 21, 2005 @ 11:49 am

  37. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I didn’t have a child in my life when I divorced and it was bad enough. I hope you can convey to Tadpole how much you guys loved each other to begin with the way we can see it. Good luck on your new beginnings and I hope it doesn’t get to rough. We’ll all be here for you.

    Comment by Kathy — May 21, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  38. Petite,
    Please ignore comments like Lesley’s above. Only you know what is best for you, not anyone else. My parents divorced when I was five and I turned out just fine. I wish you all the best.

    Comment by Catriona — May 21, 2005 @ 3:09 pm

  39. As a longtime fan I read this epitaph yesterday and got a cold shudder down my spine. I’ve been through this myself. I also feel a bit uneasy for hitting out at Mr F in quite a few of my comments but between the lines I did get the impression he didn’t deserve you.
    Next time you’ll make a better choice. Now you know to steer well clear of any bloke wearing a blue duffle coat.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — May 21, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

  40. I have read and re-read your post amazed at how gutted I feel for you and Tadpole, complete strangers on the other side of the world.

    There’s a phrase in Maori (New Zealand indigenous language) – ‘Wahine Toa’ which means Woman of Strength. It has been used to describe me for various reasons in the last few years. I belive that it is a phrase that describes you. Even if it’s the last thing you feel you can be now, you will look back in the future and find it to have been true.

    All the Best

    Comment by deeleea — May 21, 2005 @ 3:46 pm

  41. Sorry to hear your news. Hang in there.

    Comment by Greg — May 21, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  42. All the best, Petite.

    Comment by Sarah — May 21, 2005 @ 7:06 pm

  43. Petite,

    Someone said think about your child. My parents hate each other but have stayed together for their children. I used to lie in bed at night listening to them argue and abuse each other and I would cry myself to sleep wishing I was lucky enough to have parents who divorced. Now all the children have left home my mum is still married and living with someone she doesn’t love. She is so alone and unhappy.

    Maybe if she did what you are doing then she would be happy. It breaks my heart to see her like that and to know that I am the cause of it.

    Good luck in the future and I’m proud of you for doing whats right by you and your daughter.

    Comment by Lucy — May 21, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  44. So sorry to hear.

    my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Comment by leah — May 21, 2005 @ 9:06 pm

  45. I really feel for you. Please do give yourself some time and then jump back on the bandwagon! You’re such a talented writer, I would just hate existing not to see your daily blog again. You go girl!!!!

    Comment by Patty — May 21, 2005 @ 9:37 pm

  46. can only be for the best, good luck
    hope you’ll remain une petite anglaise, though


    Comment by Zed0 — May 21, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

  47. Only just caught up with the above post. Hope you’re OK – thoughts are with you.

    Comment by Vaughan — May 22, 2005 @ 2:07 am

  48. Splitting up seems crazy!

    Comment by dan — May 22, 2005 @ 4:03 am

  49. I had two children when it happened to me. At first, I was numb with hurt and shock. I thought that the best part of my life was over and that there was nothing to look forward to. I went on because I had to for the kids’ sake. Nine years later, I look at my life and those of my kids’ and we’re all agreed that divorce was one of the best things that ever happened to us! I believe that this ending will be equally good for you and tadpole. If Mr. Frog can’t see how lucky he was to have the two of you, he doesn’t deserve you. Be strong for tadpole’s sake, get good legal advice, and never trust a lawyer named Heather!

    Comment by ann — May 22, 2005 @ 4:04 am

  50. I have been lurking on your blog for a while Petite, and I am so sorry to read this………..

    Hope you are ok

    Comment by Lyn — May 22, 2005 @ 8:59 am

  51. I’m really sorry. As a boy who has lived that, I recommend that you give ALL support to little tadpole and PLEASE let her see her dad, and dont criticize him hardly in front of her.
    Best, love and support…

    Comment by Jesus — May 22, 2005 @ 10:00 am

  52. Delurking to send my very best wishes to you all. I felt terrible when I read your post on Friday, and wish I could offer something more than condolences and courage. Anyone who has been though a breakup like this knows it is NEVER a light decision, and never easy. Hang in there…

    Comment by sandrara — May 22, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  53. I just saw Lesley’s comment. Tadpole won’t even remember when you were together and so many kids’ parents live apart that she won’t feel like the odd one out. If anyone makes any comments like that again just remember that they’re speaking from the experience of a different generation.

    I know an old woman who stayed with her man for the sake of the children and he dragged her down for almost half a century. You’ve done the right thing.

    Comment by Satsuma — May 22, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

  54. I, too have been silently lurking on your blog for a few weeks — but couldn’t read your endings post without commenting.

    You are an amazingly talented woman and it sounds like you have made a courageous decision to follow your heart. I hope knowing that so many of us in so many places are thinking about you helps….

    Comment by wandering-woman — May 22, 2005 @ 5:23 pm

  55. This must be a very hard time for you & I just wanted to add my best wishes to the pile already here.

    I’m the daughter of separated parents and have always felt that what is right for the parents is usually better for the children too. The separation (when I was 6 and my sister was 3) was never a problem as far as my sister and I were concerned.

    All the best to you, and one more small voice (beeswing, the lurking reader) thinking of you.

    Comment by beeswing — May 22, 2005 @ 7:02 pm

  56. Petite,

    I have been reading your blog for few months now, since I moved to France myself from Australia, and have discovered your the amazing ability to express how and what so many of us feel living in France.

    I came home this afternoon after spending the weekend in Paris and read your latest post. I sincerely hope you find the courage, strength and peace you deserve in the days, weeks and months ahead.

    All the best to all three of you,

    Comment by Nicnu — May 22, 2005 @ 9:34 pm

  57. Dear Petite,
    It seems right, your doing this. From your blog, I see that you have given so much and yet he is unable to give much of himself. Take good care!

    Comment by monreve — May 23, 2005 @ 7:43 am

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