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Tuesday, 11 November
The Women, Dogs And Poisoners Of Paris
HELLLOOOOOO EVERYBODY! The wife and I are back from France! Did you miss us? HOLLA IF YOU MISSED US!
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GOOD TO SEE YOU TOO! Anyway, sorry it took a while to get back to writing. I'm still kind of temporally fucked up from the trip. I've been back to work for two days now, and that's been oddly okay--no shootings yet, except for that Mary bitch with the motor disease or whatever--but it turns out that my geriatric nap schedule has been somewhat thrown into disarray, and now whenever I attempt my usual evening sleep period during when "How It's Made" comes on, I get this weird sensation that slavering wolves are breathing on my genitals, and I just lie there and sweat. I trust this will pass.
We had a great time over there, of course; we spent four days in Paris then a week in Avignon. A real writer would recount the entire trip in a roughly linear fashion, going off of his copious notes and dedicated scribbles. I, of course, cannot be bothered with that shit, so over the course of the next few entries, I will recount various vignettes and anecdotes in a more or less completely broken and incoherent fashion, so that the entire narrative will, eventually, come to light in a postmodern, fractal kind of way--think Pynchon, think pointillism, think CSI: Miami. Or do what I do and renounce thinking entirely.
Our first few days were spent in Paris, waiting for the wife's appalling fortieth birthday to pass, which it eventually did, much like a kidney stone, causing me to clutch my penis in horror, realizing that my old lady was, finally, genuinely old. Oh well. We tried to pretend to enjoy ourselves anyway.
We were staying in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, locale of the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Musee D'Orsay and Rodin, and several fragrant public toilets--good for taking a hearty shit in provided that you're too hoity to get down on the sidewalk with the dogs and just leave it there.
Right around the corner from our hotel was our adopted cafe, the Cafe Du Marche, whose busy staff rarely managed to ignore our hideous French; we enjoyed started our days there, with the wife enjoying an "EX-PRESSO!" and me more often than not sipping a Campari.
As many people have observed, Paris is a crazy dog town, and we, being dog people, enjoy dog-watching even more than people-watching. One fellow on a particular morning sat down with his tiny little graybeard black dog in his lap and ordered a coffee. The dog was adorable. The dog was also the most fantastically caniopathic dog I've ever seen in my life: he hated every single other dog that came within five yards of his lap-ambit. He would be sitting there placidly on his owner's lap until he spotted another dog pretty much anywhere (and he was preternaturally good at seeking them out) at which point he would stiffen, chuff indignantly for a minute, growl and then FREAK THE FUCK OUT, writhing in his owner's lap like a sack full of angry eels, barking and howling as if someone had suddenly stuffed its asshole with a quantity of cilantro. He was outstanding. I'm pretty sure he was Napoleon brought back in tiny dog form. The other dogs looked at him lazily in any case, often stopping to take a desultory shit on the cobblestones, offering their professional opinions as to the efficacy of the tiny dog's threats.
Not that people-watching ever disappoints, especially in Paris. Particularly, for some reason, the old ladies. It must be said that Paris, pound for pound, contains the most undiluted concentration of hilarious crones that I've ever seen anywhere in my life. They are, quite honestly, incredible. On any given afternoon on the streets of Paris, you will witness the most astonishing collection of grotesques, gargoyles, termagents and just plain caricatures than you would believe; this was just at the Marche cafe. I saw things such as an upswept dye-blond beehive-cum-pompadour with half-inch long visible roots, wraparound designer sunglasses, pleather jackets with "NO MERCI" on the back, and high-heel leather boots with a crosshatched rhinestone design. Unfortunately, I saw all of these on the same woman at the same time; she of course also yanked along with her a tiny little dog whose only clear purpose of existence was to be stepped on by passersby. Watching old ladies in Paris is like owning free tickets to a Commedia del'Arte show every day for free: Columbinas tottering around with their little mewling canine Punches.
One day at Cafe Marche, watching the street show scroll by, I noticed that they served hot chocolate ("chocolat chaud"). That sounded nice. What also sounded nice was some rum with that. I flagged a waitress; the wife ordered some coffee, and then I gasped out in my typically horrific French: Je voudrais un chocolat chaud avec rum!
She looked at me as if I had opened my mouth and a plague of moths had flown out. Rum? she said, looking alarmed and not a little horrified. Oui! I replied, showing her my molars. She retreated inside a little shakily. She came back seconds later.
Rum? she asked again. I nodded. She motioned for me to follow her inside, clearly wondering what the fuck I was talking about. I followed her in. A bartender was drying glasses, staring at me warily. I turned to the wife. "I cannot possibly be the first person who ever asked for a hot chocolate and rum," I said. "Maybe you are," she chirped. Fuck you, Jack, I've got my coffee, was the clear subtext there. She was enjoying the weirdness.
I examined the bottles behind the bar and beheld no rum (the wife claims she saw some, but I didn't). Then I saw some whisky. "Whisky OK!" I cried, pointing at the bottle. The waitress looked, if possible, even more stricken now, and the bartender pulled a truly disgusted face, raising his pained eyes to the ceiling as if to seek answers from the mottled tin above, grimacing when the Gods did not immediately favor him with a suitable explanation as to what the stupid fucking American could possibly be asking for. C'est bon! I hollered defensively, and witlessly rubbed my stomach. The bartender stared flatly at me. He and the waitress chattered for a moment and then seemed to settle on a game plan; the waitress motioned us back to our table outside, clearly still unsettled by events.
We waited. I wondered what the hell was the problem, but right then my drink showed up; the waitress wore an expression that I figured was similar to the one worn by whomever had to serve Socrates his teacup. Merci! I said.
After the first sip, I realized what had gone horribly wrong, I'm pretty sure now. If I'm correct, my huge mistake was ordering chocolat chaud avec rum (or, later, whisky). What I should have said was chocolat chaud et rum/whisky. "Avec" means "with." "Et" means "and." PISH TOSH, right? Well, not so much. By ordering the hot chocolate "with" rum/whisky, what I had signalled to them was: replace the water you'd normally add to hot chocolate mix entirely with booze.
I was served a hot chocolate not with steamed water but with 100% steamed whisky. They must have used close to four shots; I nearly sent my first mouthful into my wife's hair in a concentrated jet. It was, of course, fucking awful. After a giggling half-dumbshow with the waitress explaining the misunderstanding, she burst into delighted gales of laughter and let the bartender know what the mix-up was. After that, my disgusting alcohol bomb became the topic of much hilarity: the waitress would periodically make a show of mopping my brow; I would periodically ask her to call me an ambulance or curse her for poisoning me. I worried what I was going to be charged for the awful mess, considering how much booze must have gone into it, but they apparently decided that its humor value more than made up for the whole episode, and only charged me five euros and some change.
Two days later, we were back at the Marche. A woman on a motorcycle screeched up to the outside seating area and pulled off her helmet, shaking out her long hair. It was the waitress. We grinned and said our hellos.
"You are not dead!" she cried. C'est bon!
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You are such a splendid writer. You have brought so much mirth to my life. Bless you.
Holla indeed. and what rothbeastie said.
Jesus God, that was good stuff. I was laughing so loud the wife made me read it out loud. And we all chuckled warmly.
Big belated birthday hugs to your lovely wife.
I'm here from The Shelia Variations: Holla!
This post is fantastic! You had me at cilantro.
Welcome back :)
As far as I can tell the only place in Paris where dogs are NOT allowed is... THE PARKS.
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