Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm too hot to title this

It's upwards of 100 degrees here the past couple days and I've lost my will to live.  For the most part I've been lying on the floor, panting, and occasionally stretching a finger upwards to feebly peck another key on my laptop.  Heat is tough in a city with no air conditioning.  Coco and I went to the grocery store yesterday and stood in the frozen foods section.  It would have been a good idea if half the neighborhood hadn't been there, too.  Everyone in Saint Germain needed fish sticks, I guess.

Anyway, I had a great weekend.  I went to meet some of the ladies for a beer Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to L.A. Mom.  Another ex-pat is biting the Paris dust.  Normally I would feel sad about this, but this time it's OK because L.A. Mom is about to become SEATTLE MOM.  She's moving to Seattle and will be there when I return.  We will then push peaceful Pacific Northwesterners out of our way in lines together because that's how we do things now.

Anyway, I started walking towards the usual place where "The Ladies Who Beer" gather when I encountered this --


Gay Pride Extravaganza!  How could I have forgotten?  I dashed off a text message to the ladies -- "gonna be late, going to party with the gays."  Usually I'm crabby at manifestations because they're in my way, but this one was a big, fun, brightly colored party with lots of cheerful men in fishnets.  And bras.  And occasional tutus.
 
 Sometimes just no pants

I hung around for awhile, waving at the people on the floats and taking pictures, but I eventually wanted my beer with the ladies.  The only problem was I had to cross the street to get it -- the only way to beer was to swim through the sea of rainbow flags and piles of glitter.  I plunged in and immediately got caught up in a group of people who, at that exact moment, decided it was time to jump up and down.  I jumped up and down too.  I laughed with people I've never met before.  I got confetti in my mouth.  It was the most fun I've ever had crossing the street.

i'm goin' in

Coming the day after New York's landmark vote, it was a jubilant time.  The crowd was huge, the outpouring of support for the LGBT community overwhelming.  It's not legal here for gay couples to marry or adopt children, but that's going to change.  France is gonna get there soon. 


Gay Frenchies, go get your rights and marry and adopt your babies.  You can't mess up marriage or parenting any more than we heteros have, so I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

Al and I spent the day alone Sunday.  Virginia Family was kind enough to take our kids for the day, and from what I hear, Lucien was better behaved with them than he ever is with us.  Why does he always do that and how do I make it stop?

We went to the Jacquemart-Andre museum in the 8th arrondissement for the Caillebotte brothers exhibit.  I don't know if I spelled that museum name correctly, and quite frankly it's too hot to look things up, so it's going to stay that way.

There was a long line to get inside the museum.  As always, lines equal anarchy in France so there was some rule-breaking.  Many people jumped out of the main line to go stand in the "group entrance" line.  They weren't a group, no matter how badly they wanted to be, and were told they couldn't enter like that but they still didn't budge.  This led to a tense French wedge.  We will not miss the French wedge when we leave Paris.

We finally got into the building but there was another line to enter the exhibit itself.  This is when the Helmet-Haired Grandma From Hell (catchy!) pulled the most blatant line-cut I've ever seen.  She just swung her foot around Alex's body and stepped in front of him.  Alex is useless in these situations because he starts sputtering indignantly but laughing at the same time, so the only thing he accomplishes is confusing everybody about his feelings.

Then she did it to me. I whipped out my iPhone to capture the glorious moment for the blog.  I had to share this information. THIS IS HOW THEY DO IT.  They step right in front of you, but they will not look at you.  They'll look in the exact opposite direction of you, even if it means pivoting their head around 180 degrees so they're staring directly out over their backs.  Line-cutting Frenchies are like those owls with really twisty necks.


If you try to say something polite, you will be ignored.  Your only options are to 1.) fistfight or 2.) just take back your space.  I chose to take back my space and stuck one of my feet in front of her feet.  I couldn't get the other one in there because she was standing an inch from the person in front of her, so I straddled her for a minute and stared at her impressive helmet hair.  Her head remained turned away from me, but I could tell from the stiffness of her body she knew I was making my move.  It was ON.

We played footsie all the way up to the front of the line and I was winning, WINNING when I realized Alex had fallen behind by several more people.  I could tell they'd cut in front of him because they were all intently staring at the ceiling and Alex was hopping around and letting out a guffaw every few seconds.  I lost focus.  I turned to Alex and said, "What the hell are you doing all the way back there?" and WHOOSH... Helmet Head was past me and into the exhibit.  Dammit.  Foiled again.

We were hoping the Caillebotte exhibit would be a nice way to beat the heat, but surprisingly, the air conditioning was minimal to none.  We thought for sure they'd climate control the place to protect the paintings but nope, screw you, Gustave, and your picture-taking brother, too.

The exhibit is in its final days so if you can, go see it.  It's worth it.  One brother is a painter, one a photographer, both lived in Haussman's Paris, both were influenced by the same subject material.  Their work is grouped by subject and displayed together.  It was great exhibit if you like your Caillebottes in pairs -- but it was way too dang hot.

As is often the case in Paris, the museum was just as beautiful as the art.  What an incredible building the Musee de somethin' somethin' Jacques somethin' Andre is. (?)  It used to be someone's house and I think they had a lot of money.  I'm an endless fountain of information.




We had a long metro ride from the museum to our lunch destination.  As we approached our stop I said, "OK, Al, it's the next one."  When the metro stopped, I hopped off, then spent a few seconds analyzing the exit signs to see which one to take.  As the "door closing" siren sounded, I suddenly realized I was all alone.  I spun around to see Alex looking at his damn Blackberry, still on the metro.  I yelled, "AL?" and he looked up startled, then took a flying leap at the closing doors.  Too late, the doors slammed in his face.  He looked forlorn and lost as the metro pulled away but I laughed and laughed as I enthusiastically waved bye-bye.  Al jumping at those doors was the funniest thing I'd seen in a long time.

Here's Al carrying Lucien home from Virginia Family's place.  Our dear friends were kind enough to watch our kids all day AND serve us drinks when we went to pick them up.  We are lucky, lucky people to know the people we know.


Blackberries can make you miss your lunch reservation, mes choux,
MJ

20 comments:

Anne said...

Turning the back...it's a classic. Kind of like putting your hands over your ears and saying "I can't hear you."

debbie in toronto said...

pretty sure I've seen that helmet head in line at Monoprix....

get rid of that heat...I'm coming .....

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Poor MJ-- That line jumping thing is terrible, terrible. You certainly don't expect this from "gray-haired grandmas", and still... We have been in Paris for a few days and I got reminded quickly about wedge lines. I agree with you. I certainly don't miss them in Seattle. Parisians sure can be cranky, and rude. Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle (a native of Toulouse so I can criticize Parisians all day long if I want to ;-)

Kate said...

Great post! I loved that exhibit when I as there in April- and it was cool in there...
So curious about the queue cutting. What happens if you tap them on the shoulder and say (in halting but understandable French) something like "excuse me granny but this is my place?" Do they just ignore you? Guess I better sharpen my elbows as well as my French!

Anonymous said...

In this heat, only the A/C
at McDo will do the job! Thanks for the review of the Caillebotte exhibit at the Jacquemart-André museum, sounds very interesting. On the subject of gay marriage, the French gays should have the right to get married so they can choose not to get married just like many French heterosexuals.

Patricia H

MJ said...

Anne! Please tell me this isn't the last comment you'll ever leave! The countdown on your blog makes me sad, but it's the Paris reality. We all leave eventually. Good luck with the move.

Debbie, woke up this morning and the heat appears to be gone. I feel like I can breathe again, downside is it rained all night. You never know what you're going to get around here.

Veronique! Ah-HA! Confirmation from a French woman that the wedge exists, and is awful. Is this mostly a Parisian thing, then?

Kate, yep, you'll pretty much be ignored unless you get loud about it. They'll just pretend like they don't hear you. Hence the head turn. Your choices are to either sharpen your elbows, or don't go do things that a lot of other people want to do.

Patricia H., nicely, nicely, nicely put.

Thanks for dropping by, all, wonderful to see you as always.

Ksam said...

To be fair, it's not exactly the same thing, but the French actually came up with something called the PACS in 1999, which gives homosexual couples almost all of the legal rights of marriage. It was actually quite avant-garde at the time.

And man, are you right! You have to WATCH OUT for those little old ladies. They may look innocent, mbut the minute you leave an inch of space, they will be in front of you insisting they have been there since they day they were born. If you're not careful, they will also take no pity and roll over your feet with their cart in the supermarkets!! But that same "If I don't see you, you're not there" applies to everything - walking, getting of escalators, driving, etc. It's only *slightly* dangerous. lol

MJ said...

Hi Ksam and your big blue eye! True, the French were way ahead with the PACS and the civil unions. The PACS is more popular around here than marriage with the heteros, too, which is interesting.

The old ladies are terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Whao! Lucien has grown up! And Alex looks more and more "French" with his stylish glasses...
By the way your wedding picture is magnifique!

Steve said...

When someone is trying to jump the line with me, I am tapping the guys shoulder and say "Je pense que j'étais devant vous". You have to tap and talk firmly enough to be heard even by a deaf, twisted neck, helmet-haired grandma.
There are two usual behaviors:
- Some apologize saying something like "sorry I did not pay attention, you might be right".A smile, and case closed.
- A minority would reply "really?, are you sure? I was really behind this person -showing the person in front of him/her-". In that case, I usually firmly reply that I am sorry but yes, I am sure I was first. It usually works. But it might be because I used to play rugby and they may feel some sort of physical threat ;-)
Under exceptional situations, you may request your queueing neighbors to testify.

Trying to play line-cut back does not seem to be the right option to me. One simple reason: You don't know which league your opponent is playing in.
MJ you apparently challenged a national league line wedger, whereas you are playing university league at best :-)

laughingsalmon said...

Fist fight might have been the uber decision...but it was a hot,muggy day...

It's Just Me! said...

Let me know if LA Mom converting to Seattle Mom needs a welcome wagon. You know how friendly Seattle can be!

Send the heat this way!!!!!!

Marie said...

This heat will all be gone when I arrive in August, right?

I think you'll get a kick out of the sign I saw posted regarding suppport of gay marriage (this one from the US). It read: If you don't like gay marriage blame straight people. There the ones who keep having gay babies.

theaccidentalparisienne said...

I also found Gay Pride by accident, but at the end of my street. Thought it was the usual protest when I heard the carhorns but the super loud dance music and riot of rainbows told me different. Totally fun! The parade was huge!
The 'French Wedge' made me laugh. No respect for queueing but an intense need for process in other aspects i.e. heaven forbid I order from my baguette from the woman who takes the money at the bakery! Ah, the contradictions...
Thank god the heat has lifted. I'm new to Paris. Is it usually this hot?

Anne said...

MJ: I'm just leaving Paris, not actually dying. Your blog is in my Google reader and I will keep reading! I love your take on Paris.

Anonymous said...

OK, the Gay Babies comment has got me in stitches! I have totally forgotten your entire post. Except for losing your darling husband on the Metro. That was AWESOME.

Looking forward to being that weirdo who says to you on the street, "Hey! Aren't you MJ?"

New to Paris,
StayingPositive

MJ said...

Hi First Anonymous way up there (oh, to be able to reply individually to comments a la Wordpress....) Lucien is huge. He's growth spurt city right now and I barely recognize him from one day to the next.

Hi Steve. I'm going to write your words down on my hand so I have them handy next time someone cuts in front of me. It will probably be very soon. It sure is an awful lot of work to keep your place in a line around here.

And love your assessment -- indeed, I was way out of my league. I'm still a rookie.

Laughing Salmon -- true dat. It was not a day for fighting. On a cooler day, though, of course I would have punched the grandma.

C! You know, that's a great idea. She's going to need some welcoming. Sometimes hipsters aren't very friendly -- though my guess is they're still loads friendlier than Parisians? I'll keep you posted. Hi to P and F and whomever else you've got hanging around your house now.

Marie. I cannot promise you anything. I hope that kind of heat is gone for good, but one never knows what they're gonna get around here.

I love the "gay babies" quote. A friend of mine recently posted it on Facebook and it cracked me up.

Hello and welcome, Accidental Parisienne! Well...sometimes it's this hot. Sometimes it's not. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it. I just took a look at your blog, have to go read it a bit more in depth.

Anne. HA! You got me. I was projecting my own issues onto you -- I've decided the only way I'm going to survive a post-Paris life is to pretend Paris doesn't exist at all. I'll have to delete all Paris blogs on my reader -- at least until I'm "over" it, that is. I should have known you're a stronger person than I. We will miss your blog terribly. Best of luck with the move.

Staying Positive! You made it! Welcome! Can't wait to be accosted by you on the street!

Goodbye, all, and thanks for leaving comments that make me laugh.

Gina said...

Man, I'll bet I'm too late to leave a comment that you'll actually read, but nonetheless, I have to share. I live in Paris and am quite used to the line cutters (I usually do the cut back), but last weekend I was standing in the line for the toilet at the Vatican and A NUN cut in line! Not in front of me, but right behind me. She sauntered up next to me, assessed the line behind me, and decided nah, she was just gonna wedge in right where she was. Now really...a nun? I mean, I'm sure the pedophilia has a lot to do with the decline in the church's credibility, but this sort of thing can't help.

Virginia said...

You nailed it. And you're right the J-A museum is a beautiful place with or without the art. I think it's one of the best kept secrets in Paris. THat staircase is amazing. I must have taken a dozen photos of it before I realized there was ART ! :)
V

PS French AC is like a poooff of coolish air, not the Arctic blast we get here in the US!!!

MJ said...

Gina, Not the NUNS. There is no hope in the world. And I read all the comments, always.

Welcome again, Virginia. Agreed, that staircase is incredible. Love the description of French AC. A poof of coolish air. Perfection.

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