So I’m at the gym the other day, dragging my flappy arse along on the treadmill, when I saw a sign on the wall that said “something, something, respectez nos clients, something, then ne pas cracher par terre.” I knew par terre meant on the floor but cracher? By the time I saw a third sign I broke out the translator app on my iPhone and it turns out it means spit. Obviously enough people have been spitting on the gym floor to warrant multiple signs. Each sign also said they’d already spent over 500 euros dealing with this issue. Now I don’t know about you but I tend to limit my floor spitting to museums and the occasional cathedral.

Christ on a cracker, who the hell leans off and spews a loogie on the floor of a gym? I was flabbergasted. Imagine walking around with a big load of foamy mucus all over your sneakers, yuck. But then I thought about it on the drive home and maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I haven’t said much about this kind of thing here on le blog — and to any French person reading this please know that I am merely observing, not criticizing and definitely not judging — but there are some distinct cultural differences when it comes to bodily behaviour.

It’s a crime punishable by death to leave your house without a scarf, but deodorant and hair washing are at best optional. Sometimes I think there must be competitions for the strongest body odour that I don’t know about. Also I’ve seen so many men urinating in public now that I hardly notice it any more. I don’t mean discreetly tucked behind a dumpster or a large bush, par exemple, the gentleman at the front door of a large supermarket in broad daylight. I mean facing forward with enough willy exposed for me to describe the offending organ to a sketch artist in perfect detail, you know, in case there’s ever a massive penis hunt being conducted by the French police.

Anyway, nothing to do but adapt and blend in. I shall do my best to refrain from spitting at the gym. I might even toss out my spring breeze Secret roll-on and limit washing my hair to once a month. And the next time I see some Frenchman, bird in hand, tinkling away, I’m whipping my pants down and squatting right alongside him. A bit of spit on my shoes will be the least of my worries.