Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bathrooms, Dogs, and the Language of Love
Yesterday I spent almost the whole day walking in Paris. It started out a gorgeous (albeit cold) sunny day, and after a fairly lengthy ride on the RER I decided to get off at the most familiar metro stop for me: Notre Dame/St Michel. One reason, of course, is that I can pop out at any of the sorties and find my way somewhere without having to bust out the map in front of all the purse-snatchers and pickpockets. The other reason was a little more practical: there's a fairly clean public restroom (for the low, low price of 30 centimes!) right in front of the cathedral. I emerged from the metro to the sound of the Notre Dame bells playing noontime music, followed by the steady bong-bong-bong announcing it was precisely 12:00.

What I didn't realize is that apparently, just like everything else in Europe, the restroom is closed for lunch from noon until 1:30. But my mama didn't raise no fool, so I did the old "hey, I'll go shopping in this lovely department store" and "hey, lingerie is on the 5eme etage, I'll go peruse lingerie" and "Oh, well, will you look at that? There's a ladies' room at the back of the lingerie department! How convenient!" and "Oh, well, I don't need any new lingerie. Time to go explore some more!"

Thanks, mom, for teaching me those important life lessons. You'll always be remembered for your restroom finesse.

After that I wanted lunch so I hit a brasserie across the street from L'Opera. Now, throughout this trip, I've done fairly well getting by with my ever-rustier French, but I wasn't quite so successful at lunch. The owner of the brasserie was seated at the table next to mine looking over his books with his good-ol' boy buddies, and at some point he accidentally dropped his cell phone. Actually, it was more like the cell phone grew a little jet pack and leaped from his hands, up into the air, and smashed to a million pieces on the ground. A bunch of the pieces landed under my table, so I picked up what I could find and gave it back to him, with a sympathetic look and expressed my broken-French wishes that it wasn't destroyed (it definitely was). His buddies were laughing at him like crazy, and one of them leaned to me and with a conspiratorial grin and said "Je crèçené quèdàza blà blà rébràmenne!!! Hahahaha! Eh? Eh? Hahaha!" Well, actually, I'm paraphrasing. Honestly, I have absolutely no earthly idea what the man said to me, but it was clear that I was supposed to laugh too. Maybe I was laughing because the cell phone jumped so high. Or because the owner of the restaurant was a jive turkey. Or because the cost of cafe au lait at this brasserie was too high. Or because their secret terrorist plot was just so darn brilliant. I joined in a non-commital laugh, since it's disconcerting to laugh at a joke that you don't get. It was probably not the right kind of laugh.

After I ate, as I was leaving, the Funny Man walked back into the brasserie with his dog. No, not a dog, more like a horse. Or Bevo. This guy had Bevo for a pet. I told him that he had a horse, not a dog, and he replied "Oui, mais elle ràçené releemére pour là et vrouvrée zha zha! Hahahaha! Eh? Haha!" Again, paraphrasing. Again with the noncommital laugh and a sideways nod and I told the dog that he was super-sweet. Which it was, One of those gently giant types of dog. I'm sure the guy thought I was conspiring with the dog somehow, but he was certainly jolly anyway. Then the dog jumped up and placed his front paws on the shoulders of the brasserie owner to kiss him on the face (The Dog stood 6'2", I swear!), and I'm pretty sure the owner told me that the dog was his girlfriend. I congratulated them all and took my leave as gracefully as possible.

Maybe I should re-start those French lessons when I get home.

Oh, speaking of dogs, I just found out that Peace and Fuzzy have acquired a new dog! SNG sent the pictures and OMG she is SOOOOOO CUTE she should be on CUTE OVERLOAD.COM. Her name is DOTtie because they found her at a DOT rest stop. Y'all, I can not wait to meet that dog!!! It's enough to make me want to come home from vacation! And that's saying something. Goofch will have a new playmate!!!!

Well, not much else to tell for now. After lunch yesterday I did a little more sightseeing, a lot more walking, a little more restroom swindling, and bought €50 worth of chocolate at the gourmet store in Galeries Lafayette. This morning I'm going to hit the La Poste on my way to the RER station to mail it home. That's the only way it'll last until I make it back to Raleigh. This evening I'll get to spend a couple more hours visiting with Val and Jerome (who need nicknames: they are now Isabelle and The Chef) and then head off to the Gare de L'est to catch another overnight train to Frankfurt. Then to naviguess the S-Bahn to the airport, where I'll find Fish and Jen and, a few hours later, SNG (YAY!!!!!!).


PartnerInCrime said...

Oh, how well I know the noncommital laugh when you can't understand someone. I did it a *lot* for the three months that my brother-in-law lived with us. (Northern England accent + stutter + a tendency to mumble = ???)

Mom said...

You ladies, really! When you get to my age, you'll really commit to that laugh! If they slap their knees, I slap my knees and pretty soon, the hilarity of the scene of my not knowing jack about what they're saying actually gets me going even more until we're all rolling on the floor with tears flowing. Then I beat a hasty retreat holding my sides, still laughing.
You'll get the hang of it about the time your kids are in high school and realize that you can't be embarassed anymore in life than you already have been by your own children. It's very liberating!
L, Mom

Diana said...

In honor of ya'll going to Germany, I am totally watching my all my Hogans Heroes DVDs!

Mom said...

What about these globe trotters!? As soon as she gets her SNG, she forgets all about the rest of us who are living vicariously through her travelblog!
Hope you're just having too much fun to find a computer.
Love, Mom