The couple was very young, maybe in their early 20s, but probably closer to 18.
The woman had dirty blond hair, the sides pulled away from her face. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, or if she was, it was so artfully done I couldn’t tell it was there. She looked like a cute, natural young woman out for a day in the forest.
The guy had blond hair too, but his was the result of an unfortunate dying incident. It was that unnatural orange color caused by trying to bleach dark hair too fast. But what do I know? Maybe he loved his hair color. Maybe he enjoyed the rebellion of an obviously unnatural hair color. Maybe his hair color was the envy of all his friends. In the grand scheme of things, his hair color meant very little to me.
The couple walked into the Mercantile, and I said hello. The young man returned my greeting, and I identified him by his accent immediately. With that one word, I knew his first language was French, although I couldn’t tell you if he had grown up in France or Belgium or Quebec.
If I had any doubt about his Frenchness, it was dispelled by his next words.
Ah, we were looking for some baguettes…
I almost burst out laughing. The French guy wanted baguettes? Are you fucking with me, kid?
It was the second time that season that a French man had come into the Mercantile and behaved so stereotypically French that I wondered if someone was pulling a prank on me. The first guy has such a stereotypical French accent and such stereotypical French mannerisms that I honestly wondered if he was just pretending to be French. He seemed too over the top to be real. It was only when his parents joined him in the store and I saw they were French but not comically so that I decided the young guy was French…in fact, he was very, very French.
And now this young French man was asking for baguettes. Is there a more French thing a person could ask for?
Baguettes? No, I answered sadly, still trying not to laugh. We don’t have any baguettes. What I didn’t say is, We’re on top of a mountain, and there are no bakeries for 40 miles in any direction.
Is there any other store nearby? The young French man asked. He clearly was not easily discouraged.
I pointed right and said, There’s a general store ten miles that way, then I pointed left and said, and there’s a general store ten miles that way, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have baguettes either.
Ok, the young French man said. We look around for something else.
Apparently nothing in our selection of chips, candy, and granola bars could substitute for a baguette because the young people bought nothing. They walked quickly around the yurt, then left to continue their quest for the bread of their people.