Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Rue with a View, Dept.

But not everything is about The Divine Sarah (although I do like how the Wicked Witch of the North let her Babymakin' Man, Todd, help with the governance of the WTF? State. Were I a resident of Alaska, I'd feel better knowing that the First D00d is on the case. He's won a flock of snowmobile races, don'tchaknow, yah, you betcha, and worked in the oil fields, too. Take THAT, Jill Biden, with your lah-dee-dah Doctorate of Education and your Snobby McSnobshoes breast health awareness programs.)

No, instead, I thought today I might share with you some thoughts on our recent vacation. Your sobsister spent a week in Gay Paree, a leather bar just outside Waukesha, Wisconsin...*ha ha* I'm just joshing; I am so much more into Asian twinks than leathermen...*ha ha* just joshing again; I am totally into leather, especially on long-stemmed Lithuanian supermodels who'll show me what a worm I truly am...*ha ha* the law of diminishing comedic returns is truly making its presence felt.

Seriously, though, we were in Paris for six lovely days. And following are some snapshots of, and observations on, this lovely land of the lovely–

1) do the French exile their fat people to Corsica? Devil's Island? Alabama? Because, really, the herds of the morbidly obese who galumph around Choc City and its suburban dewlaps do not find an analogue in the Big Brioche. Now, I myself ate much in the way of animal fat enrobed in rich sauces, chased by agglomerations of sugar, cream and chocolate or nuts (the "Paris-Brest" at Le Bistro Paul Bert...nomnomnom) and returned home to find I'd lost a pound-and-a-half. So, yeah, maybe French calories work in reverse. Like French tanks! *ha ha* See how I worked in that trenchant reference to Gallic failures on the field of manly combat? It's in honor of the upcoming bicentennial. 200 years since France has won a war. There's gonna be parades'n'everything.

2) now, one possible reason behind your sobsister's weight loss might've been the vigorous exercise regimen to which I subjected myself once arrived in Paris. Each day, as we walked down the street, I would aerobically whip my head right and left to catch the lovely mam'zelles in their softflesh'd trajectories, the same question trailing behind each of them: "Avez-vous des frites pour accompagner ce milk-shake?"

3) in that vein, we're walking behind a family on the Quai Anatole France: a guy, mid-40s; his little son, eight or so; and his daughter, 16 or a smidge older. The guy is Pierre Average, wearing some schlubby jacket, noticeably middle-class in tony Saint-Germain-des-Prés; the boy is a good-looking little fellow, not wearing anything particularly distinctive; and the daughter...yes, the daughter. Honey hair just below shoulder length, blue eyes, bright smile; she's dressed quite fashionably or, at least, well. Suede-ish jacket, tan miniskirt, kneehigh boots. What makes this vignette memorable in my foie gras-bleared memory is the fact that this young woman was possessed of an ass like you read about. Particularly if you're the sort of person who reads books or periodicals featuring post-pubescent heroines with asses like a) two puppies playing in a sack, b) two melons on a miniature see-saw or c) you read about. In short, she was an eye magnet. Not that your sobsister is personally into that whole Lolita/Barely Legal/Daddy's Little Hotbox continuum of sclerotica. I am merely a camera. More Brownie than Hasselblad, perhaps, with just a hint of Lomo, but there you have it. At any rate, down the street walks this happy family scene: schlubby père, playful fils, eye magnet fille. Little Pierre (which sounds like a sweet pet name for a fella's tallywhacker) is hopping up and down and running all around, just a bundle of energy. So, he starts playing with his sister. By spanking her and running away. Spanking her and running away. Spanking her and running away. She's laughing and trying to avoid him. But he always manages to land solid spanks on her ass. I turn from this spectacle to observe grown men, chainsmoking, weeping with bitter envy. The ghost of Maurice Chevalier croons, "Sank heffen foor lee-tall gurrls..." And...scene.

4) as intimated above, the women of Paris wore boots, mostly knee-high, some higher. Leather, brown or black. Or they wore Chucks a/k/a Cons née the Chuck Taylor® All-Star®, in a wide variety of colors and heights. Here's what they didn't wear: UGGs and flip-flops. Here's what else they didn't wear: baggy sweats with their alma mater's name stamped on their ass. Here's a generalization: women in upscale Paris do not allow childbirth or childrearing to interfere with their patriotic duty to look fabulous. Mom fashion dans la ville: knee-high boots, skintight jeans, snug top, leather jacket. Grandma fashion: leather pumps, leather pants, silk blouse or cashmere sweater, leather jacket, Jackie O sunglasses. Here's what I didn't see in Paris: muffintops. Even on muffins.

5) on the flight over, the Eastern European fellow to my left asked me if he could have my half-eaten salad. (And here I would normally launch into an extended diatribe about how astonishingly crap United's food is, but, instead, I'll content myself with noting that the "balsamic vinegarette" accompanying said salad was both offputtingly peppery and searingly acidic; perhaps originally intended to prime furniture or repel garden varmints but repurposed for human, or, at least, "coach passenger," consumption.) I gladly gave him my leavings, which he quickly wolfed down. Later and in the same spirit, I asked a passenger a few rows back if I could have his wife, whom he'd barely touched. His hatred of me was palpable.

6) one of my personal sightseeing highlights for the trip: the catacombs of Paris. While not recommended as an excursion for those who might have "issues" with being 100 feet underground in a seemingly interminable low, dark, narrow passageway scored by seeping water or in a labyrinth of rooms lined with the skulls and bones of six million dead Parisians, it is an enjoyable escape from the commonplace tourist scene. Plaques in each room, written in the three languages of educated man--Latin, Greek, French--offer useful advice from the Bible and the classical canon regarding one's ineluctable proximity to death. All in all, a lovely getaway for the whole family, particularly if the whole family enjoys being reminded of its mortality. Not, as I mentioned previously, for the bathophobic...and I don't mean HIPPIES! AMIRITE?!

7) the Louvre is full of many people of all descriptions. No small percentage Asian. Like, a LOT. We walked up the long staircase to the Winged Victory of Samothrace, weaving around and past large clots of humanity, ascent arrested, to hear their tour guide's energetic explanation of what those big-nosed barbarians were up to, exactly. I'd love to know, for the participants, how this all fits into their cultural and intellectual cabinet. Does everyone know the Mona Lisa and Liberty Leading the People? Is it a Big Deal to have schlepped all the way from Busan or Shanghai or Osaka to have seen it and other Old Masters? Or is it simply the Sort of Thing One Does when abroad? After leaving the museum, we stood across a narrow internal road from two Asian couples. If I had to guess: Chinese. And by "Chinese," I mean: vice-assistant manager at the No. 3 People's Melamine and Lead Paint Collective. The men were both dressed in the kind of generic gray suit that, despite pants and jacket being cut from the same cloth, still looks mismatched. The kind of suit a Zhejiang farmer wears to a court date, with the label of a brand like "Flying Dragon" still visible on the sleeve just above the wrist. The women both had dyed orange hair--and I mean, Halloween orange--permed to full curl. They were dressed in snug red wool dresses that combined with their hair color to poke onlookers in the eye. What does "Paris" as reality and concept mean to them? I would've asked them, but, after staring into that maelstrom of red and orange, it took a while for my eyesight to return.

8) you can buy things in Paris that you can't find back home. Like "Pall Mall" and "Lucky Strike" cigarette rolling tobacco. They probably also have Everclear baby formula, but I didn't see any. As a nation, we're pretty laissez-faire. Which is quite French-sounding, I know. Translated, it means that we sell things overseas whose toxicity would feed a dozen law firms for years.

9) dang, but those Frenchies make good bread!

At any rate, just a taste of your sobsister's sojourn into deepest Paris. Or at least arrondissements one through 13. With that, our whirlwind trip to the City of Lights sputters, coughs and comes to a noisy little end. As they say on the Champs Elysees, À bientôt. Which, spelled backwards, is "Natures."

5 comments:

thefirstmorning said...

Call me the worst example of my profession in the world, but there are Parisian derriere imprinted on my synapses from 40 years when I was 17 and from 5 years ago when I wasn't. What's the deal? I think its the strolling..relaxed bodies assume the shape they're supposed to be.

I love France and have driven all over it (the last time with the wife and 3 adult children in a car the size of my suitcase that, nonetheless, would fly at 120 km/h.) You make me ache to return soon. And add to my synaptical collection.

the sobsister said...

Writing the synaptic bible with your words, &c.

Lucky you to have driven all over France. I hope to do the same at some point in the not-too-distant future. Thanks for writing.

1966Xtine said...

a great derrière always makes up for a less-than-perfect visage, but never t'other way round.

Aussi, maintenant j'ai faim, and it's all your fault.

marielaem said...

French women take good care of themselves. The last time I put tap water on my face was before I spent all my school holidays in Paris from the age of 16. Anti-cellulite cream for the derrière is a religion - applied before there is even a hint of the dreaded orange peel in sight. Then there is the constant diet of cigarettes and black coffee - obviously more conducive to a tight bum than a daily truckload of MacDo or Kentucky Fried Rat.

On a totally different note - the Louvre always gives me migraine. thesobsister is obviously made of tougher stuff than moi.

the sobsister said...

Hold on...I feel a Sir Mix-a-lot moment coming on...

No, it's passed...I'm sorry: anti-cellulite cream for the derrière? Did I hear that correctly?