Monday, April 15, 2013

"Pensees De Paree - Le Commencement"

Fasten your seat belts, Time Travelers.  We are rocketing back to March 18th, 2013.  Many of us were younger then.  All of us were younger then.  But the period is not so lost in the enveloping mists of time that we cannot still remember what it was like.  I mean, come on.  It was, like, four weeks ago.

Strapped in and ready?  Okay.  Here we go. 

On the night before our departure, we had dinner at a local restaurant.  As I availed myself of the Men’s Room facilities, with the awareness of the “bidet” tradition floating through my consciousness, I felt a strong sense of moving to the “Parisian frame of mind”, as I resisted the insinuating impulse of squatting on the urinal.
To prepare myself, prior to our impending visit, I purchased an enormously informative survey history entitled The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne, which methodically chronicles the development of the city from its 2000 year-old inception (422 fact-filled pages, with photographs, though they are not counted as pages.)  Unfortunately, being a very slow reader, my purchase if the book was not prior enough. 

By the time of our departure, I was only up to 1187.  (By continuing reading during our two-hour pre-boarding sojourn at the airport – thank you, terrorists – by “takeoff” time, I had nudged along the time-line to 1456.)
On extended airplane rides (and other times), many travelers pass the time listening to individualized musical playlists from their high-tech contraptions.  I, instead, sing to myself, inevitably instructed by an accompanying family member to keep the melodiousness down. 

When my repertoire runs out, (which includes numerous clamoring demands for “encores” from my enthusiastic “audience of one”), I proceed to entertain myself with a medley of cherished comedy routines, most particularly snippets from the inspired Mel Brooks-Carl Reiner improvisations of The Two Thousand Year Old Man.

The selected favorite on this excursion involved Reiner’s question concerning the medical treatment related to serious caveman-era-incurred physical injuries.  The reply to this query was that, in that prehistoric era, there was no medical assistance whatsoever.  What happened was,

"You just lay there till you got better.”

To which I filigreed, “No medicine, no antibiotics.  You got dirt in it, you were a goner.”

I make no claims of Brooksian imagination.  But when you’re flying half way around the world, you have plenty of time for comedic interpolation.
“Immigration” at the Paris airport was noticeably unfocused.  As we stepped up for our turn at what we expected would be a conscientious grilling concerning our visitorial intentions, we were instead met with startling disinterest. 

We are not talking indifference, as in, “So you’re here.  We’re not interested.”  As the Immigration Official wordlessly stamped our passports, he appeared head-turningly “other-directed”, laughing and chattering with fellow armed and uniformed Immigration Officials over what felt suspiciously like a particularly felicitous “celebrity sighting.”  As the French are universally recognized for their passion for cinema, one might easily imagine who the source of their untempered enthusiasm was.

It was like, “Terrorists?  Who cares!  David Lynch is in the airport.”

The “David Lynch” reference is not my cheesy attempt at a gratuitous “name joke.”  An awaiting Car Service sign revealed that David Lynch was, in actuality, on the premises. Leading immediately to thoughts of disappointed terrorists complaining, “We had our whole story ready, and they didn’t even ask.”
Ensconced in our hotel-bound taxi, I broke out my fractured French to inquire,

“Combien de temps avant arriver a l’hotel?”  (Translation:  “How much time before to arrive at the hotel?”)

The driver’s response was, “About an hour and a quarter to two hours, depending on the traffic.”  When you’ve been traveling for thirteen hours, you would have liked to receive a more comforting prediction. 

But that’s how Paris would be our entire trip.  No matter how speedily you would prefer your activities to proceed, it was unquestionably the locals who were in charge of the clock.  
And finally, we are there.  An attractive boutique hotel.  On a hidden-away, almost alley-like street in Paris.  Throughout our stay, without exception, not a single cab driver would have any idea where it was.

If it weren’t for GPS, we’d have spent our entire ten-day visit, driving aimlessly around Paris, searching for the Victoria Palace.

And never finding it.
Ten days in Paris (minus one “day trip” to the Normandy beaches.)

As a bilingual Jackie Gleason might have said:

“And awayyyy nous allon.” 
Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, a song I posted on April the second didn't produce a song.  I have re-posted it.  And it's still worth listening to.  I hope it works this time.  

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