What a week it’s been. You’ve all read the headlines and stories. To end this week, this crazy week, what happened today in Paris was a fitting finale. The whole world was watching the show of force against religious fascism, terrorism, and any other ism you can and can’t think of.
Some people believe the Parisians are arrogant. They are, absolutely, and rightfully so. You ever been to Paris? It’s an amazing city. I’ve been there twice.
After the first time I was there I hated it. I thought ‘what’s the big deal?’ I saw all the stuff. Crowded museums with too many tourists (I wasn’t a tourist in my mind, I was a cultural warrior). Over-priced food of inferior quality. I was on a backpacker’s budget so anything beyond a ‘Three Course Menu’ special was out of the price range, and even that was highend. The Arc de Triomphe, which I thought was strange because it has a statue of Napoleon on it (wasn’t he a bad guy?). Waited hours to go up the Eiffel Tower, without a lover, which is strange, too.
But I did too much. I only saw the big things, I didn’t see Paris, except for the subways which are unnavigable for a person with no French skills. I was too busy seeing the sights, and missed the city.
After about five years, however, slowly, perniciously, inexorably, Paris beckoned me to return. ‘Give me another chance’, she said, and a few years later I went again. This time I went with my wife, and our little bean in her womb, and Paris was indeed a changed girl. Or maybe it was me.
I was more experienced, I knew better and had more staying power, I took long leisurely strolls to nowhere. These became long bouts of foreplay, as each street whispered its own story in my ear. And then, Paris opened up to me, her legs splayed wide open. Saint Denis, a neighborhood of immigrants, was truly amazing. Falafel from a kosher kebab house, had people lined up around the corner, and for good reason. The museums were still crowded, sure, but seeing La Joconde in person isn’t nearly what’s its cracked up to be. There are a lot more paintings of better quality in easier to reach locations, and she’s not that pretty. I prefer Marianne.