Yesterday evening, my Bastille Day ended on a friendly European note. A pair of young Swiss guys stopped at Gamone in a massive silver automobile and asked me in broken English [I don't speak a word of German, and they knew no French] if there was some place where they might pitch their tent for the night. I invited them to settle in under the big linden tree alongside the road. They were well-equipped, with an elegant high-tech tent and folding chairs. After congratulating me on my having found such a splendid place to spend my holidays, they were a little surprised to learn that I actually lived here all year round. This morning, they told me their night was peaceful, apart from a visit by a giant toad. Before driving off, they even wanted to pay me, but I told them I wasn't a professional camping operator.
During my morning walk with Sophia up towards Bob's place, I noticed that their white mare was leaning through the strands of the electric fence and eating grass on the roadside, which simply meant that the current wasn't turned on. Later on, Bob himself dropped in. He now stays with his girlfriend in a neighboring village. As for his daughter, she has gone away to the south of France to look into finding a school enabling her to become a horse-training professional.
Bob: It's lucky I dropped in, because my daughter forgot to turn on the electric fence, and the white mare was outside the paddock.
Me: Bob, let me be frank with you concerning your daughter. In my opinion, there's no way in the world she'll ever become a competent horse-trainer, because she doesn't pay attention to simple things such as turning on the current to an electric fence.
Bob: It's true that she often forgets to lock the house. But she's young: only eighteen.
Me: I have a "theory" that somebody who doesn't pay attention to details cannot usually be looked upon as a practical person. Among other things, I wonder how such a person could possibly prepare a meal. Is your daughter a competent cook?
I won't quote Bob's hilarious reply, but it suffices to say that he provided me with excellent evidence to support my theory. Now, you might say that the question of whether or not my neighbor's lovely daughter is a practical person, who knows how to cook, is none of my business. On the contrary. I've already inherited their stray donkey, but I don't want to find their two huge mares prancing—once again—over my lawn.
As far as food preparation is concerned, Bob assured me that he himself is a competent cook. That's how he has remained fit and happy. I've sensed for ages that my neighbor, who's a big solid former rugby-player, didn't find it comfortable to live in a vegetarian environment. This morning, our friendly conversation culminated in an interesting rhetorical question (introduced spontaneously and unexpectedly by Bob, not me): Is it an easy matter for an attractive young girl to find a future husband when young men discover that she survives basically on vegetables? I must admit that, when I was a young man, I never thought much about this kind of question, because I was delighted to have discovered a wife with a fine sense of basic French cooking. I guess you could say I was lucky.