la cuillère

by jemma margaret

My aunt tells a tale of a friend of hers who ran down the streets of Paris shouting about “un homme avec une cuillère.”

I, too, often find the French translation of “spoon” when I am searching for un couteau.

Today, on the other hand, I was searching for a spoon. It was a late lunch overlooking a meadow of sorts at X. No, I am not being clever or mysterious, X is the very old nickname for the École Polytechnique–the alma mater of every other French mathematician since the turn of the nineteenth century. Before 1976, X could be found on Rue Descartes in the 5ième (the buildings still stand and are surrounded by a nice little public park)–now it is in a hunk of concrete in the banlieue. Thanks 1970’s architects!

My visit concerned some very old letters and manuscripts once belonging to Jean Victor Poncelet (whose body can be found, if you’re interested, in Montparnasse Cemetery). These old papers were very interesting, and it was past 14h by the time I took a pause.

I had packed a lunch of yogurt, muesli, carrots, and pears–but upon pulling out the first two ingredients I realized that I had forgotten to pack a spoon. Undeterred, and perhaps inspired by all the engineering students, I fashioned a spoon from a carrot stick. This worked pretty efficiently, although I don’t think I would do the same thing in a more formal setting. But then, upon reaching for my pear, I found that I had in fact packed a spoon (an event that will remain forever blocked from my memory).

With my limited knowledge of statistics and my limited knowledge of physics, it is certainly possible that individual socks, keys, and spoons on occasion become no longer apparent to human senses, only to reappear again at a later time.

By that same logic, well, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Unless you want to make some soft-boiled eggs. In which case you will want une cuillère et un couteau.