Originally emailed July 2001
No more travel plans for me. Running out of $$$. The stock market has put a serious dent in my finances…bad timing. Why oh why did I fall for that Financial Advisors’ advice to buy Enron stock? Question; could it have been that he was handsome with a great personality and took me to dinners until I signed up? Plus, I have estimated quarterly taxes due in September. Another question; why do I pay taxes on money I earned and already paid taxes on?
So I am happily continuing with French classes and being an expat in Paris.
I had a date with Henri, the professor I met at Alliance Francaise in the cafeteria. Just call me Kelly Kelly – Cheers episode reference. He took me to a French home for a party. Henri has that rumpled absent-minded professor look – a man who clearly spends little time dressing. But he arrived for our date in matching clothes and combed hair in an attempt to impress me. He did. The dinner party was at the home of his friends and located in the neighborhood where he lived. He came by taxi to pick me up.
The apartment was beautiful in a great old building with that wonderful French architecture and an enormous double entryway from the street. The home was decorated all in warm shades of soft beiges. The furniture was mostly antiques except for the lamps. I cannot figure out where the French find their ugly lamps. They just don’t fit in. The good news is that they love dim lighting which is flattering to the complexion and does not draw attention to the lamps themselves.
The hostess prepared three tables with floor length linen cloths covered with fish, cheese and fruit, dessert…all catered by Fauchon La Madeleine, a very classy two-floor delicatessen. A very cute girl in a short black dress and cap poured wine and removed dirty ashtrays. The French just nibbled on the food but drank lots of wine. I searched for a plate to put on a few samples of the food but there were none… just tiny saucers that fit one little selection. Clearly I spent more time standing at the food tables than the other guests who just picked. I was so hungry and felt it was a sin for all that glorious food go to waste. I used a lot of those Alice in Wonderland tea party saucers with questionable looks from the French maid. I would have killed for a Tab with ice. The Ugly American!
The next day I looked up Fauchon on the computer to see if I could put a name to the wonderful food. From the fish table, the scallops with clementine, pumpkin and chestnut crumbs were just delicious. Along with all the cheese selections were various terrines. My favorite was the duck foie gras with apricot compote. I could not resist trying something at the dessert table. I tried the most beautiful “bisou-bisou” (translated kiss-kiss) which looks like red lips and described as a raspberry compote on a vanilla biscuit covered with a vanilla ganache. I noticed that the other guests favored the macaroons not like our coconut macaroons but two cookies with icing in the middle which came in assorted sizes and flavors.
Back to the party…the guests all spoke French and after a few polite attempts at English, they pretty much ignored me the rest of the evening. They were all intellectual types and had some very animated conversations that I would have loved to hear. Henri translated but he was getting tired of that by the end of the evening too. I don’t think he ate a thing except some bread and cheese. I would have loved a doggie bag.
Ah yes, now to the end of the evening. Henri put me in a taxi and he tried to climb in with me. I told him since he lived right in the neighborhood where the party was that he didn’t have to take another taxi ride and that I would be fine on my own. Henri said and I quote, “But I wanted to come to your flat and give you the opportunity to ____me.” EEK.
When I told him, “No merci, pas ce soir”, he got out of the cab and sulked away. The cabbie laughed all the way back to my apartment. When I got out of the taxi, he shrugged his shoulders, winked at me and said, “Ah, amour!” Maybe I am too old for this.
To top it off, Luc, who was at the party and in the same group of teachers I meet for coffee in the am, asked me at the party to go to an exhibition at Musee D’Orsay on Sunday afternoon. This museum was originally a train station that now creates great spaces for paintings and sculptures.
I was really excited because I liked him better than Henri. I wonder why I seemed to be so popular. Maybe it was the wig. On Sunday morning, I changed my clothes twenty times at least. Guess what. When I met him at the museum, he arrived with another woman on his arm. I was crushed and puzzled.
After browsing through the museum, we went for coffee in a garden cafe tucked in the corner of the sculpture collection overlooking the Seine. Only they had wine instead of coffee and half way into the second bottle they start to giggle and brace yourself for this one – she (SHE) puts her hand on my leg and whispers that we should all go to her flat for “ménage à trois.” You already know how bad my French is but there was no misunderstanding those three words. Double EEK. What did I do to get myself into this situation? I threw some francs on the table, said au revoir and made a hasty getaway not caring a wit what they thought of me.
Monday morning in the cafeteria, Henri and Luc were sitting together talking to the other professors and all were laughing. When they saw me, they stopped. I felt like I did when I was a teenager in my high school days. No plans to sit at their table so I joined my classmates at another table and they were happy to see me. There is a God.
You can’t say I haven’t had some experiences here in Paris.