What’s French for “Clark Griswold”?

When I was a kid we spent a lot of time in Europe. On one summer trip we drove around the Loire Valley visiting rustic towns and castles. The Loire is famous for its old castles, which have mostly been preserved. It was a great trip: old stones, rustic villages, great food.

At one of these beautiful old châteaux, there was a panoramic view of the countryside from a high parapet. Visitors could climb up one of those tight and worn medieval staircases, risking death at each step, and get a moderately nice view of French countryside.

Directly below this castle wall, about 100 feet down, was the winding road that connected the castle’s hill to the main road. The hill was steep, and the top of the wall couldn’t be clearly seen without looking at an odd angle directly up.

Eventually my attention was drawn from the boring vista of rolling countryside down to the road directly below. A little Renault was stopped and a woman and two children were standing around the car. On the other side of the road, about 20 feet from the car, a middle-aged man was urinating.

I was not the only one looking down, and as paterfamilias continued peeing people nudged each other and giggled. Eventually the entire set of summer castle tourists had their eyes fixed on the unfortunate man.

Just as he straightened up and turned around, his wife sensed something and looked up at the necessary uncomfortable angle. A fifty-strong ensemble of the world’s visitors stared back, and there was a silent moment.

“Henri!” she cried out, “tout le monde tu regarde!”

And so that phrase entered the family punchline library.

There is no moral to this story.

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