mathilde*, one of the four roommates, has just returned from holiday in berlin. mathilde has the illest haircut. it’s, like, buzzed short on one side with a line cut in it and then a sort of mish-mosh of lengths elsewhere with matching long pieces at the temples. it looks very berlin to me, for some reason, but i’m pretty sure it must have been like that before she went. i kept wondering how you ask for that haircut. maybe, “please cut my hair as if you were picasso.” don’t get me wrong—she’s rockin’ it. she also has some random piercings (lip and such) to round out the look, and she has a very cute face, so, magically, it works for her. everybody wouldn’t be able to pull that off.
anyway, i wound up making plans to attend a late evening picnic (featuring salsa dancing!) on the Left Bank (the southern edge of the seine) at quai st bernard. a french girl i met at the café, hélène, decided to come with, and she offered to meet up earlier to show me some sights in the area. these included the sorbonne, the panthéon, sephora (yeah, yeah—i needed some lotion), and luxembourg garden.
what we would call a park, the french call a garden. furthermore, what we call parks, they would probably sneer at in disgust. these frenchies sure do know from public spaces. perfect green lawns, statues, fountains, little chairs and tables scattered about, and a vast array of flowers that magically remain picturesque at all times. ‘ow do zay do eet?!
before long, it was time to mosey on over to the picnic. poor hélène—she needed my map book as badly as i did. no sense of direction a’tall. by the time we found our way to the spot, the stores were all closed, so we couldn’t bring any food. i had bought a ludicrously priced 1.5L of coke at one point when we stopped for directions, but it seemed a paltry contribution. so much so that she and i sat awkwardly starving to the side until a nice parisian lad befriended us and brought us some wine and food.
everyone was busy making merry at the picnic. talking, talking, talking…entirely in french. whereas, at similar functions in london, it had seemed like most everyone was a traveler and the british folks were few and far between, paris seemed the opposite. tons of frenchies and just a few travelers sprinkled in. and those travelers, other than me, seemed to speak french. ugh…woe unto this language barrier! hélène wanted to leave early anyway to get back to her home, which is outside of the city, so she and i moseyed over to the dance area.
i wish that i could now type for you that i joined into the thronging mass of people blissfully sweating and salsa-ing away under the warm night sky. but i cannot. you see, for me, salsa always involves a small conversation as a preface. it goes like this:
me: *dancing alone*
him: would you like to dance?
me: *cringing a little* …urrrgh, i can try, but i’ve only had a few lessons.
him: okay, don’t worry. i’ll take it easy on you.
or something like that. without this exchange, how could i go out on the floor? the guys were whipping the girls around in front of me like they had springs in their arms. no way i’d be able to hang at that level. so, long story longish, hélène and i made our way back to the train. we did stop for a street crêpe on the way, though. after like fifteen minutes of studying the (lengthy) list of options, i finally chose compote de pommes for mine. sadly, it turns out that compote de pommes just means apple sauce. i was expecting something a bit more rich or exotic, but screw it—i successfully obtained some french food from somewhere other than a grocery store, and that’s at least a step in the right direction.
*all names changed