CHASING AFTER GRATERS
I came to Paris with an undignified condition--warts. Unsightly warts on the bottom of my left foot that require a treatment as undignified as the warts themselves. The treatment involves applying a fixative cream, that, in the words of the dermatologist himself, kills everything on contact. However, given that my warts are deep, I must apply the fixative for weeks, spreading a small amount of the cream on each wart every night. Then, in the morning in the shower, a small grater--which looks exactly like a miniature cheese grater--is applied to the warts with swift, abrasive strokes. In theory, I should be wart-free by the end of the year.
When I unpacked this morning in the apartment (the first full day in the city with a good night's sleep under my belt), I discovered to my chagrin that I had left the wart grater at home. So, my father and I set off in search of a replacement. At the pharmacy around the corner, I began to describe what I was looking for to the gentleman behind the counter, and I realized that, while I knew all the vocabulary for describing warts and calluses and fixative creams, I had no idea what the word for "grater" is. The pharmacist gallantly pulled out every anti-callus device he could think of, soliciting a regretful "no, that's not it, I'm afraid" from me. Finally in a desperate stroke of genius, I told the pharmacist that the device essentially resembled a small cheese grater. At which point, he lit up with obvious delight and relief and pulled out the exact tool for the job. "It was the cheese that did it," he crooned. And now I know that the French word for "grater"--cheese or otherwise--is "la rape."