When I take my walks, I invent stories for the signs I see, filling in the blanks started by such words as dames, soeurs, neuve. Ladies Street, but which ladies? Sisters Street, but which sisters and what virtue or misdemeanor were they known for? Were they great beauties? Were they criminals? And, excuse me, but Rue Neuve, New Street, looks utterly ancient. Ancient.
Some sit gracefully under branches heavy with maturing plums or window boxes with draping geraniums. Others are nothing more than functional. Some are practically hidden from view, posted on streets so narrow, you forget to look up as you squeeze between the walls that flank you on either side. Some describe a location, destination or feature connected to the street itself. Others describe the street’s function. Some name abstract concepts. Some name names. But most leave much to the imagination.
It would be nice to make our own names, to fill in the blank and the story behind it, as if we were pre-mapping our own destinies, or at least our next move. Rue de la Passion. Rue de la Moitié de la Lune. Rue de la Poésie. Rue du Fou Rire. Rue de la Mère Contente, which intersects with Rue du Martini Parfait. (Passion Street, Half Moon Street, Poetry Street, Fit of Laughter Street, Happy Mother Street, Perfect Martini Street.)
Or, if our French were lacking, as mine really, truly is, we could misconstrue the meaning entirely in French, and make do with the English verb. Here’s mine. Rue Nothing. No regrets. Now, that’s the street for me to follow! What’s yours?