Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gay Paree

Ah Paris. The memories....the good times....

Though I must admit, whenever I go to Paris, at some point I end up being really, really drunk. I think it's mostly because the wine is so good, so cheap and so everywhere. Actually, forget mostly. It's just because. I just can't resist good wine.

The first time I went to Paris, I went with my friend Julia, whom I have known since I was five. We were 17 that time. We went with a busload of German tourists from Hamburg. (I spoke neither French nor German, so relied on Julia to translate German when I needed it, which taught me to never trust your German best friend when climbing mountains, but that is another story altogether. ) I discovered rose' wine and drank alot of it one night. Pink wine! Cool! I was rather fond of the new (to me) idea that wine could be bought by the liter in these cute carafes and they would just refill them whenever you wanted. And it was cheap! And I was 17! And the waiter was cute! Woo!

That night I ended up quite wasted. I vaguely remember falling out of the elevator at our hotel when it got to our floor. The elevator landed an inch or so below floor level, I tripped over the height difference and did a face plant, landing giggling on the floor of the hall. Julia gamely picked me up by my armpits and dragged a laughing me back to our room. That night a windstorm blew through Paris and I distinctly remember being woken by the sounds of windows slamming and doors rattling and an American voice ringing out "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It's a twister!" I giggled, then groaned at the discovery that 17 is not too young to have your first hangover, and went back to sleep.

The second time I went to Paris was in February 2005. You'd think I would be smarter after 18 years, wouldn't you? Hell no.

This time I went with my friend Karen. We went for a long weekend. It was cold and wet and rather bleak, but still, Paris worked its charm on me. I was a bit apprehensive to go, I will admit. I had some wierd experiences there that first time I went that I did not want to repeat. But, the people were nice, the food excellent and, as would be expected, Karla got drunk.

This time Karen and I went to this restaurant that was all inclusive, one price, including all the wine you could drink. ALL THE WINE YOU COULD DRINK. To someone living in Norway, this is not an offer, this is a dare. This is a life goal. This is nirvana.

So I drank. And drank. And drank. I vaguely remember the meal, something meat based. And then I drank some more. Sitting next to us at the restaurant were two nice guys, a little older than us (two years maybe, ok, but I still feel 23, so any guy who looks 40 to me is an older guy, I know I KNOW I'll grow up some day). They genially watched us drink our way through carafes and carafes of red wine. We chatted with them and found out they were pilots for Fedex. Nice guys. All of us were married except Karen, so it was not a pick up sort of situation, more like some Americans just saying hi in a foreign place. I got a definite "nice guy" vibe from them.

Anyhow, they said they knew a bar around the corner that was nice and would we care to join them for a drink. Yeah, like I hadn't heard THAT line before, but being drunk, and there being two of us, so we felt a bit safe, we said "Yeah, sure". So we went to a bar to have some more wine. I had an inkling that maybe I was three sheets to the wind when, on the way, I totally racked myself on one of those iron posts that they imbed in the sidewalks to keep cars off them? I learned that a) those things are exactly crotch height when you are almost 6 feet tall and b) girls can, in fact, nut themselves severely in the jumblies. OW.

Anyhow, drunk as I was I realized fairly soon that maybe it was time to get back to the hotel. I was shutting down and losing the ability to be charming (if I ever had it). I was a bit worried, also, about how to get the guys to not follow us or whatever. I mean, they had a very polite vibe but you never know.

Turns out, my impressions of people are pretty right on. And that my belief in the inherent goodness of people is always reinforced.

The two guys from FedEx were, in fact, born again Christians and were only walking us back to the hotel to make sure we were ok! There was brief talk of soul saving, but I think even they realized that might be a discussion wasted on two women who, at that point, were high-fiving each other for managing to get one foot in front of the other and snorting in laughter when one said the word "tree" and the other thought she said "pee".

We made it home safe and sound. The hangover the next morning, however, was definitely punishment from whatever God we had refused to have save us the night before, and his vengeance was severe.

That next day was also memorable because when we were walking around Montmartre and the Sacre Couer, a freak thunderstorm occurred and I saw a huge bolt of lightning hit the church steeple. Then there was a fierce hailstorm and everyone ran for cover under awnings and whatever we could find. The hail was marble sized and larger. And it was COLD. And WINDY. I was expecting frogs at any minute.

So, twice I've been to Paris, twice I've gotten way to drunk for my own good and twice freak wind storms have hit while I was there.

I really wonder if I should warn them before I come this time? Seems prudent.

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