While the pot boils back home, here at the Grand Hotel Relais Bosquet breakfast is becoming a combat sport. What starts as a lovely conversation about how every single person in the breakfast room sports a guidebook by a certain Washingtonian native turns suddenly ugly as the mention of Events Back Home is raised. Sides are drawn, positions are vehemently supported, accusations are levelled. Then a pain au chocolat goes flying and all Hell breaks loose; the Chinese tourists dive under their tables. Mon dieu! Hasn’t France seen enough war? When will the madness end? How much did I drink last night? All I know is that if someone biffs me with a croissant because of my voting record, the fromage WILL fly.
Onward to more peaceful things. Well, sort of.
I don’t understand why it’s so hard for some people to mind their P’s and Q’s when in sacred spaces, such as Notre Dame. Take off your hat, turn off the flash and shut your mouth: three little things you can do not to make the Baby Jesus cry. But noooooo . . . SOMEONE has a $5,000 Canon 5d and a flash that rivals the Trinity test going off and damned if they ain’t gonna use it! ker-FLASH! You didn’t want to munch down that Communion Wafer in peace (and not be blinded), did you? Not everyone has a camera, but everyone’s born with a mouth. What better place to run it than during the “Dominus Nabisco” part of the Mass? Oh, sure, the same Mass has been going on without fail since the Normans were sawing the tops off Christian’s head, but you know what would make it REALLY special? Your British mouth running on about the footy. An appeal to the Almighty in softly-spoken French is certainly enhanced once everyone in the cathedral knows what a “boonch of c***nts” Coventry are. Oh, nice hat, too.
(Side note: among the flashes, hats and voices, I watched as an elderly woman -- a plain sort of woman who you’d see making beds in a hotel -- lit a candle to the Virgin of Guadalupe, closed her eyes, bowed her head and prayed simply to the Blessed Mother. As a spiritual Atheist, I sort of hope the Virgin Mary is real and heard that woman’s prayer. There was more holiness in that woman’s act of contrition than in all the carefully choreographed words and songs in the Mass that was being held at the same time).
On a different subject, who’s smarter: the person who stands in line for 20 minutes trying to score the special at Ace of Falafel, or the guy and his wife who go to the little place across the way and sit at the window WATCHING the people standing in line for Ace of Falafel? Watching the competing hustlers is quite the show. Sadly, there’s a price to be paid for either (25 euros and the kind of gas that triggers Richter Scale readings and disapproving looks from fellow passengers on the 69).
Is there anything more romantic that a cobblestoned Parisian street wet with warm rain? It’s lightly raining now and the streets are gleaming. The lights of the cafes reflect off the stones. Folks huddle under black umbrellas or walk bravely through the pitter-pat drops. Life slows, but goes on. In Paris, life always goes on.
Seattle is known for its coffee. I’ve had a lot of Seattle coffee. But the best coffee in Seattle is a million miles from a single tiny cup of espresso sipped at the outer edge of a sidewalk cafe, watching life go by at 2:30pm on a workday.
A ride on the 69 from end-to-end in traffic beats any thrill ride at Euro Disney.
In Paris, the older a woman is, the more fashionable she dresses -- and the better and more naturally she wears it.
Jeans and a sports coat on a man looks a thousand times better than just jeans.
-- Mike Beebe