French Women Don't Get Fat

I was brought up to shift uncomfortably in the face of pleasure. There was no place in my parents' house for small, frequent doses of sensuality.

As a child I did not relish my food because I did not relish anything. I was trained to fixate on credit card debt, hated jobs, calories, clutter, splurges, regimens, money, gadgets, junk food, excess weight--not fresh flowers, dark chocolate, cotton sheets, a signature perfume, the flex of my leg muscles, a perfect tomato, a hot bath.

Over and over, I plonked myself down to watch Amelie .

I don't think I realized that at the root of her charmed life was a deep appreciation of everything under the sun I had been taught to ignore or abuse. I did realize that whatever it was that I craved, French women had it. It was all over the pages of Victoria magazine, a constant feature in cinema, and the main attraction of Peter Mayle's Provence books (which I got ahold of when I was nine or ten). I had a persistent feeling that the world could be cracked open like a coconut. If only I could act French enough to become French, I would be given the right hammer.

Now I am reading a book called French Women Don't Get Fat. It is a revelation. I do not need a hammer, after all.