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  • Sam Darling

Fleas of endearment

The French have developed a friendly sort of relationship with fleas. Of the many creatures that historically live around humans, the French seem to have a particular fondness for fleas. I had an adored mouse toy when I was a child that I named “flea”; it is not aberrant for a French child to name their toy thus. My toy was a white mouse like this:

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His name was puce.

Oh, hey! Did you notice there’s a color in English spelled the same way? Indeed. The French named that color because to them it is the color of a flea’s belly.

Puce. I look fantastic in dresses the color of a flea’s belly.

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Flea is also a term of endearment.

It came as no surprise to me that a French film company made a flea the central tragic romantic figure of a child’s film a few years ago. Sean Lennon provides the music and singing voice to Francoeur in the English version of A Monster in Paris (Un monstre à Paris).

And here is the same song in French.

Lennon was hired through Matthieu Chedid, the composer for the film who is a musician in France known as -M-. He was the flea’s singing voice in the original French version.

You might think the French are weird for this way of making fleas cute, but you, dear English speaker, do the exact same thing. Anglo-Saxons have the same relationship with mice.

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