Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things that don't happen in Kingston

I've been in Paris a little over a month now. From Kingston, it seemed quite obvious that after a month in Paris my French would be perfect, I'd know my way around the city blindfolded, and I'd have found a dream job that still left plenty of time to ride an antique bicycle around Paris with a baguette sticking out of the panier.

I still don't speak French. I don't have a job. And while I tried to rent a velib' last week, the machine wouldn't read my credit card so I haven't even touched a bike since I got here. (Baguettes are another story. I have eaten my weight in baguettes.)

Anyway, I spent most of Thursday moping about how silly it was to come to Paris, how I'll never find a job here or learn French, and I should have just come on a vacation for two weeks like a normal person, then gone home to live in a city where I don't have to take out a bank loan to buy a coke.

And then.

After I'd just about overdosed on self-pity, I decided it was time to rejoin the human race and met up with some friends. That turned into an invitation to a vernissage, which turned into the most perfectly ridiculous night of my life. We somehow managed to wind up at the private reception afterward, and since dinner was free and dinner was steak, that would have just about made my night regardless of what came next. But I spent the night surrounded by hands-down the richest and most absurd group of people I've ever met. Across the table from me was a man from New Zealand who'd met the artist on vacation in Malta and had come to Paris just for the opening - "Any excuse to go to Paris, right?" Sure, right. And this guy who flies all over Europe and the world to see artists he's never heard of was the least interesting person at the table.

On my right was a tattoo artist who was telling stories about his stint running an illegal diamond mine in Brazil in the 1980s. ("How does one get into illegal diamond mining?" "Well, I'd been running an illegal gold mine, but all the chemicals we had to use were so toxic I had to get out of that business while I still had my health." Which is sort of an answer, but not really.) And on my left, a man who raved about the bear chops he used to eat at the 21 Club in New York in the 1960s where he had his own private table and used to entertain Marilyn Monroe. His friend jabbed a finger across the table and crowed, "this man once shaved Marilyn Monroe."

I didn't ask, and he didn't elaborate. All I know is that's not the kind of night I used to have in Kingston.

But nights like that aren't the reason I love Paris. The real reason I love Paris? I've just moved into a new apartment, and on my block there are 3 boulangeries/patissieres, a charcutier, a butcher and a fromagerie. I am going to come back from France weighing 300 pounds and I am going to love every single bite.


  1. That's the attitude! What a night. You'll be fine. Work hard at your French lessons; you'll thank yourself for it for years to come. And keep on eating those baguettes.

  2. I've always thought those "nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" folks were highly deluded.

  3. you never know what a nice bout of self-pity can turn into
    i feel like i should be coming along to help out with the food situation

  4. david just got up from the computer and started packing his small black suitcase full of shiny suits and fedoras - it seems leonard cohen's shorter fatter younger gentile brother is coming to visit you. right now.
    i apologize in advance for the inconvenience - but alas, you brought it on yourself with the description of your neighbourhood.
    just roll him back this way when he stops eating.

  5. You know there's always a special place in my heart/apartment for travelling rats, but can it be true? Has David really traded in his bandannas for fedoras?

    It seems St. Leonard's Day was an even more meaningful experience than I'd understood it to be.