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The Pee Ladies of Paris

I like to maintain traditions as much as the next person—remember Tevye singing “Tradition” in the movie Fiddler on the Roof? A tradition in Paris is about to become extinct—all in the name of “progress.”

Well, one of the traditions—or should I say, experiences—was being in the men’s public bathroom while the female attendant waited for me to finish so she could tidy up the place after I left (and collect her half a franc). Imagine the impression this made on a ten-year-old American boy living in Europe over fifty years ago.

Urinal Cross-Sales

Madame Pipi – A toilet lady. Photo by Yves Lorson (2006). PD-Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.
Madame Pipi – A toilet lady. Photo by Yves Lorson (2006). PD-Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

These Paris toilet ladies or as they are affectionately known, “dames pipi” or pee ladies, are about to be dismissed by the government in favor of a Dutch company called 2theloo (cute name, huh?). You see this company has developed a new automated toilet technology. What it really flushes down to is cross-selling toilet products. Yep, the dames pipi are expected to follow me to the stall, be able to speak multiple languages, and sell me stuff like toilet paper and tooth-brushes. Their traditional cleaning responsibilities seem to have taken a back seat to cross-selling toiletries. Read More The Pee Ladies of Paris

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The Man Who Would Be King

Orélie Antoine de Tounens – King of Araucania. Photo (unknown). PD-100+; PD-US-No Notice. Wikimedia Commons.

Did you ever see the movie The Man Who Would Be King? Based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name, the movie starred Michael Caine and Sean Connery—two guys who became kings of Kafiristan in a remote area of Afghanistan. I won’t spoil the ending for you but it didn’t turn out well for Peachy and Danny (their characters). Delusions of grandeur set in for Danny, natives got restless, and the consequences weren’t pretty.

Researching my medieval book was really 90% about the kings and queens. So when I see an article about French kings and princes, I stop and read it. The one that just caught my eye appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 8, 2015 (In France, Princes Feud Over a Kingdom You’ve Never Heard Of by Matt Moffett). Read More The Man Who Would Be King