adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

The Postcard Project

As it turns out, it's a lot harder to high-five a stranger than it sounds.  But maybe I should back up a little and explain. Have I ever told you about my friend Ed Casey?  Besides being a personal hero of mine for reason having to do with Sons of Anarchy, Season 3, Ed has an addictive Tumblr blog, Bart Dont Lie, where among other things, he is documenting his Postcard Project.  Sick and tired of only seeing credit card statements, bills, and junk going through the mail, Ed decided to spice things up and start sending postcards to random people to brighten their days.  But these aren't ordinary postcards.  Each postcard comes with specific orders for the person on the receiving end to carry out.   Crazy and hilarious, right?  That's just the kind of guy Ed is:  crazy and hilarious, not to mention disgustingly quick-witted. So, being  a devout follower of Ed's blog (you should follow him on twitter too.  You can thank me later) I requested postcards for our family.

one for everyone!

Getting "good mail" was a rarity in San Francisco, and now that we live in France, those times and even fewer and farther between.  So I was borderline ecstatic to open our mailbox and see these three cards. Real messages!  From the real world!  I couldn't wait to see what our orders would be. Michael's postcard was, quite obviously, the postcard featuring Jimi Hendrix.  It read:
Hello from San Francisco!  Ed Fact:  I once listened to Jimi Hendrix's 'Star Spangled Banner' 19 times in a row!  Your orders:  Sing the chorus of AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds' out loud.  Be Well, Ed"
And because Michael knows every word to every song ever, he promptly burst into the chorus of "Dirty Deeds" after he finished reading the postcard.  And I promptly had this song stuck in my head for the next two days.  Mission complete. Figaro's postcard was also very appropriate for him.  His had a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on the front and read:
"Hello!  Bark!  Woof!  The facts listed on this card are worth knowing.  Have someone read them to you because you are a dog and can't read.  Your orders:  Chase a bird.  Bard at it.  Ruff Ruff, Ed"
I'm not sure if Ed knows that chasing and barking at birds is Figaro's favorite pastime, but he had no problem completing that task.  Since I'm his mom, I read him the front of the postcard and educated him about the GGB.

don't ask how i got him to lick the postcard

My mission was slightly more complicated. The Futurama postcard addressed to me read:
"Hello from the USA!  I hope that you are adjusting to your French-fication!  Your Orders:  high five a stranger!  Do it ugly American style.  Be Well, Ed"
Ok!   High five a stranger in "ugly American style."  That seemed easy enough!  So I set off to run some errands and find the perfect stranger whose hand I could slam against my own.  I decided to target a male, aged 18-25, because I felt it was the demographic that would provide the least resistance to my high five attempt.  After I had my target established, I had to properly position myself up for a successful high five.  Obviously I needed to use my dominant arm so that I would have proper aim and force, but I'm usually carrying my purse on my right arm.  Ok, switch the purse to the left.  Hmm, it feels awkward, but this could work.  And I could not forget the most important rule in high fiving...What, you don't know the high five rule?  Well thank god I'm here to tell it to you, just as it was told to me while waiting in line for the comeback of one of my favorite bands at Hampton in March 2009.  Ok, here's the rule:  when high fiving, never look at the other person's hand.  Always look at the elbow of the arm they are using to high five.  If you are looking at their elbow and they are looking at your elbow, your high five will result in full, solid hand contact with a resounding "SMACK!"  Don't believe me?  Try it.  High five someone while you are both looking at each others' hands, and then do it again looking at each others' elbows.  Seriously, go ahead.  I'll wait. Done?  Good.  Now that we have that established, we can move on. Ok, so I was properly positioned, I was repeating the high five rule in my head, all I needed was to find my target.  Right away I noticed that most of the men in this age group were walking with women.  Not a big deal, but I've found that many French women are both passionate and jealous, which could prove to be a lethal combination during this project, especially with a language barrier to deal with ("No, really!  I was just trying to high five him!  Umm, haute cinq!")  I decided to rule out the couples and focus on just men walking alone.  Soon I had my target.  Young adult male, looked normal, walking alone, perfect!  I began to attempt to catch his eye when I noticed that he was carrying his phone in right hand.  Damn!  Not gonna work.  I couldn't very well try to high five someone who had a cell phone in their hand, that would be a disaster.  I had to find someone else.  The next guy seemed ok, but we had way too much distance between us and any attempts at a high five would result in more of an awkward arm-extended side slap.  That would never do.  Hmm, more couples... a guy carrying groceries...very old man hobbling with a cane...homeless man that looks like he hasn't bathed in the last year...this wasn't working at all!  Why was it so hard to find someone to high five?  Then in the distance, I saw the perfect guy:  the right demographic, looking normal, walking alone, nothing in his hands, he was my guy!  My stomach started getting butterflies and my heart was pounding?  Why was I so nervous to high five someone?  I looked at him and he looked at me.  I gave a small smile and he returned it.  Great!  He was getting closer, now all I had to do was raise my hand for the high five and Oh Dear God no!  He sneezed in his hand!  HE SNEEZED IN HIS HAND!  ABORT!  ABORT!!  I ducked my head and practically ran past him panting and feeling a flood of relief that I had not high fived the germ infested hand.  Dammit!  Thwarted yet again! By the time I had finished my errands and made it back to my house, I still had not found another candidate for the high five.  This was getting ridiculous.  I was going on 6 hours of being out and about trying to find someone to high five.  I was just about to give up hope when I reached the door to my apartment building and noticed that a man was already walking in the door.  Bingo.  I was going to high five this man if it killed me.  He held the door open for me and we both said, "Bonjour."  Usually I take the stairs the one flight up to our apartment, but when he stopped and waited for the elevator, I decided to do the same.  Two people in a small confined space for 30 seconds?  Plenty of opportunity to initiate a high five.  But first, we commenced with the elevator small talk. Target:  Vous habite ici? Me:  Oui Target:  Au premier etage? Me:  Oui (see how my French has improved?) Target:  Quel pays venez-vous? Me:  Umm, désolé, je parle un peu français... Target:  Oh, um, you're from what country? Me:  Oh, U.S. Well this wasn't the plan at all.  I wanted to palm bump this guy and never see him again!  But now I was going to have to try to high five him and be his neighbor.  This plan was falling apart!  But I couldn't back out now.  I knew it could be my last chance (only chance?) of the day.  The elevator doors opened.  "Well," I said, "nice to meet you."  He nodded and I help up my hand in what I assumed was the international symbol for "give me a high five."  He looked at me strangely and sort of lifted up his hand for a handshake.  It wasn't going to be perfect form, but I went for it.  I slapped that man's hand with mine.  Awkwardly, clumsily, and in true "ugly American style."  I believe I shall henceforth be known to my neighbor as The Strange American Girl Who Awkwardly Slaps Your Hand Good-bye. Mission complete. P.S. - if you want to receive a postcard from Ed, simply send your address to

6 Responses to “The Postcard Project”

  1. Andy says:

    My favorite Haute post by far!

  2. Jess says:

    that is awesome. agree with andy – best hauteness post yet. keep high-fiving in the free world, nat! xo

  3. kathleen says:


  4. Ed says:

    Best. High five story. EVER.

    Thanks for carrying out your orders with such awesome-ness!

  5. @brookelynfd says:

    This just made my night. I laughed and learned something valuable- I tested the high five theory AND IT WORKED!!
    “omg it really does work!! let’s do it again! haha AGAIN! Okay one more
    time PROMISE” <– me 5 minutes ago :D
    Great read!



    ps. You're right- purse on left arm TOTALLY awkward ;)

  6. Tisha says:

    Cracking up.

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