Dear Hypocrates: May I Suggest an Edit?

It was a gorgeous day at the St Ouen Paris flea market.  We found ourselves staring at an outdoor table at a restaurant in the Paul Bert allées so decided to plunk down and eat. We ordered a bottle of wine, assuming we would sip and people watch all day. But the clouds changed all that. It became too cold to linger. Suddenly we were sophomores in college downing shots.

We ducked into one of the many enclosed allées. We found ourselves surveying, with a posture of authority, original art from the 1900s. One section was labeled Chiens et Chats. Dogs and Cats. I started to flip through the loosely matted pictures when I realized the section had been mislabeled and they were all monkey pictures.

Surely the hand of God was at work.

In the 1960s in California, owning a monkey was de rigeur.  We Piermans had a tall and good-looking spider monkey, named Reggie. We always include the tall and good-looking part when we speak of him.

Standing in the hallway of this antique art shop, I’m intensely studying the monkey drawings when Madame arrives to give us the low down. These singes are chèr! 300 Euro, let’s move on, 400 Euro for the fabulous set of twelve, me thinks not. Then, one very Reggie-like drawing is presented. I ask the price, she says 27 Euro. We have a winner! We pay with our credit card then give an au revoir, merci bien to Madame.

Singe in hand (yes, that rhymes) winding and twisting our way back through streets and allées, we stumble upon a two story building that I remember has vintage clothing upstairs. Maybe they’ll have a dress I can buy for my son’s wedding? Let’s just pop in for fun. Only one store and three dresses later, I sink into a soft citron-colored taffeta number with hand-sewn glass beading across the bodice. It’s fabulous. Stunning. How much? Too much but she’ll call the consignor with our offer. The consignor says ‘no we must offer more’. The Husband says, “Mais, bien sûr” (But of course). Turns out he is both fluent AND generous while drinking.

Got home and realized the monkey drawing cost 70 Euro (not 27) but worse than that it is, in fact, a baboon and not a tall, good-looking spider monkey. 

And the yellow (citron? Is that even a color?) taffeta dress is not going to work for my son’s fiesta themed wedding.

In deference to the Great Hypocrates, I believe you got it wrong, sir. Before we can ‘Do no harm’, we must: First drink no wine.  Here are more photos from our day, pre-wine:


  1. Oh la la! What a day! I love your dress; it looks very 50s 👗. Can’t wait to see you in it! As for the monkey come baboon, it is still a very attractive picture. When I was young, the fashion was to have a baby duck, which was quite wierd considering we lived in high rise flats. We never owned one, as with 10 children growing up in a 3-bedroomed flat, it wouldn’t have been very practical. I often wondered what people did with those chicks when they turned into ducks, canard à la orange, peut-être?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t regret the dress of the monkey! Great memories for sure. What nationality are you? My landlady’s name in Turkey was named Fatima. I didn’t know you came from such a large family! I’m the baby, number 11. How about you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am Spanish, named after Our Lady in Portugal (important pilgrimage place in Catholic religion, although I am an atheist, but mum very devoted). I am baby number 8. Not sure how people managed with so many kids in those days: one was enough for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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