Ma and I argued a bit last night about whether Jessica and Granny would appreciate a nine euro jaunt to the Louvre. We decided they wouldn’t, even though Jessica later decided she would have enjoyed seeing the strange works of art that I had enjoyed, such as David and Goliath or that odd one about people getting their heads chopped off. I will have to buy a print of those two — I love them! So, we didn’t go, instead we opted to visit the shops in the Carousel and the Food Court that both David Sedaris and I love. Unfortunately, I never saw my favorite comedic author hanging around — or any celebrity in Paris during my time there — anywhere. I go to London for a few days and see a comic and have an almost run-in with a movie star! I go to New York and I see Donald Trump, Martin Short, and some guy who may or may not have been Usher. (I swear that it was.) But in Paris, not a famed sole. Not even a local celebrity, not even the President who lives there, not even a mildly well-known face. Just hobos and classmates and strangers followed by strangers, and the Internet repairman.
Anyway, we walked to the Metro stop and boarded the train for the Louvre. Once there, we explored a few of the shops. There was this lovely, colorful shop hidden in the back that was a lot of fun. It had cheese graters in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, which I regret not purchasing now, and bowls that depicted squirrels protecting their nuts. From there, we went to the Swatch store where I immediately fell in love with a new watch. It’s so thin! It made my already thin watch look like a behemoth. We peeked it at Swarovski Crystals and then went into L’Occitane, where we amused ourselves for a while smelling soaps and trying out lotions. I found a lip balm that I really enjoyed — unlike normal chapstick, it never goes away!
Inside the Virgin Megastore, Jessica got herself all riled up and angry over nothing. She said that the amount of people was getting her upset, but I don’t know, she just seems to get angry at everything for no apparent reason. Her emotional upheaval over, we went through security and into the Louvre’s main entrance. We weren’t there to look at the art, unfortunately, but to use the restrooms, rater.
While Ma and Granny stood in the literally mile-long line, I snuck into the museum with my pass for the last time. I was quickly back into my favorite part of the Louvre. I don’t know what it’s about, they have statues from all over the place from different time periods that don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. No matter…I love it. It has a glass ceiling, which casts a warm, sunny light all over the room. As I entered, I turned left instead of my normal right — and wondered why I had never done that before. It was just like the other side. The same light and statues, but as you go up the stairs, there was a section devoted to religious art that I never knew existed. I LOVE religious art, but sadly, I only had a moment or two until I needed to leave, so I looked at the medieval monk statues and ancient crucifixes. I loved it all, but I had to go — who knows what kind of emotional outpouring of despair Jessica would have had in my seven minute absence. Suddenly realizing that the police would be called if she started crying the way she likes to, I took off only to find her on the verge of a nervous collapse.
With that over, we exited the Louvre, me with a rather melancholy heart, via the elegant winding staircase and out into the gardens. Granny was genuinely impressed with the opulence, grandeur, and mammoth dimensions of the palace. Jessica, on the other hand, could not have cared any less. She was totally unimpressed — as she is by most tourist sights like the Eiffel Tower and such. Only one thing has ever really impressed her, but I will get to that in a few paragraphs time.
I thought that everybody would like to have some hot chocolate from Angelina’s, but I was wrong. We started off in a long line, but, Ma soon discovered that there was a to-go area, so we hurried up there. We each got a macaron, then two hot chocolates to share. After paying, we headed back to the Jardin des Tuileries to eat our goodies. The macarons were heavenly, but the hot chocolate — not so much. There was just too much of it. Angelina’s hot chocolate is heavenly, but in large quantities it is vile. It tastes as if you are slurping down a cup of piping hot brownie batter. You, on the Internet, sitting there, might say, “Wow! What a fantastic and perfectly delicious idea!” Well, I have to crush your dreams and tell you how absolutely horrible it is. We all took a drink or two, but none of us could down more than that. And, in the end, we threw them away.
Jessica was still in a mood of heightened annoyance. She didn’t like the hot chocolate or her macaron. She was hungry! But then, she spotted a carousel in the middle of the gardens, and we had to do that. While on the ride, surrounded by infants and other children no older than ten, she finally looked happy. Once the grind organ came to a close, we walked along to my favorite place — the very end of the garden on the Place de la Concorde. Jessica and I mocked Granny and Ma by taking pictures of everything in the vicinity. That amused us to no end. Everybody seemed to enjoy my favorite place as much as I did, so, I was pleased.
We left now to go to the first place that truly and honestly impressed my un-impressible sister — Montmarte — in particular, the red light district. As we emerged from the subway, she was immediately enthralled by the Moulin Rouge and the overwhelming array of sex shops. She insisted on having her picture taken by the Moulin Rouge, where she would lift up her shirt, not really, though, just enough to make it look like she were in photos. Then, we walked along the boulevard on our way to Sacre Coeur. Granny and Jessica were both shocked at the sex shops. Granny would snap a photo of each one, as would Ma. Jessica insisted that I take her picture in front of the Supermarché Erotique with its miscellany of gear devoted to sordid activities.
I had promised Jessica that she would see a hooker, but there were none about. In the end, we decided that they either took Sundays off to go to church or catch up on their sleep debt. I was a bit disappointed, I wanted Jessica to see a real Lady of the Night. Oh well.
After a while, the hoopla came to a close and we were back amongst normal shops like Franprix and a myriad of boulangeries. Finally, the time came for us to turn and head up the old, cobblestone road to Sacre Coeur.
As we walked along, I noticed several people holding out long pieces of embroidery floss. Not knowing what this was, I told them, emphatically, no, each time they tried to loop it around my finger. As we grew closer and closer to the church, there were more and more of them. Finally, it became inevitable, somehow, one of them got it around my finger.
I was horrified.
They started weaving and wrapping, I realized they were making a bracelet. My first thought was, “How lovely!” And then, “What are they going to want from me?” As the bracelet took shape, they made lovely conversation about Barack Obama, Hakuna Matata, America, my family, my French, Paris. They kept telling me, “No worries…okay?” I said, “Alright,” suspiciously.
Soon, the bracelet was finished and I figured out he wanted money. I went to give him four euros in change–a huge amount for a street beggar. He wouldn’t take it, said he had to have paper and that the bracelet cost five euros. He said he would give me change. Knowing the second he said it, that it wasn’t true, I handed him my ten euro bill and watched him run away with my money.
Ma refused to pay, Jessica said she had none, and were let off the hook. But the beggar wrapping the bracelet around Granny was agitated and vicious looking. When she wouldn’t pay up, he rather violently slashed the bracelet off of her wrist with a pair of nail clippers. I didn’t know then how glad I was to have that bracelet.
Feeling rather swindled, we walked up to the church and admired it. On the way down, we ran into some more of these people. Jessica and I were rather far ahead of the other two, so couldn’t just run away from them, that would look obvious. Instead, without thinking, I held my wrist up and showed them my bracelet. A smile broke out on their faces and they said, “Nice!” Still smiling, they let us through. For those ten euros, I had purchased myself some safety and had entered a secret brotherhood. Well worth it, I thought.
Fatigued from this madness, we went out to eat at Iolanda’s again. We all had our standard fare and enjoyed it just as much as usual.
It was dark by now, and I thought it would be fun to go up the Eiffel Tower now. So did everybody else in Paris. Jessica insisted on having cotton candy in the demanding way she demands everything. So, Ma and Granny waited in line as Jessica and I walked over to the little carnival by the river. The cotton candy she received was bigger than her torso. It was insane.
We walked on the bridge for a little while before joining the others again. Before long we were through security, had our tickets, and were in line to the elevator. We stopped at each level and enjoyed looking around. The higher we went up, the more afraid Jessica became. She likes to invent new phobias for herself — she’s convinced herself she’s afraid of heights.
So, when it came to the third level, only Granny and I ventured outside. It was absolutely beautiful. The lights twinkled on the river, on the streets, in the buildings. It was like a massive Christmas tree strung with a million strands of lights, or like a summer’s night weighed down with countless lightning bugs. I loved it.
Then, we went home to bed.