Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cahiers Parisiens: Tout le monde parle à moi

Bon jour, mes canards! Paris may be a fading memory, but I will try and catch you up on the last few days of the Cahiers Parisiens.

Maybe it didn't come through, but I didn't talk much with people while I was in Paris. This is not that unusual. I work either from home or at a desk marooned at the other end of the floor from everyone else; I don't often go out to bars either home or in Europe; and in general, I am a misanthropic sour puss. This helps out in the writing game, but isn't so much use in other places.

But...well, the last few days in Paris I actually had some interactions with people.

The first couple happened on Sunday last. I went up to the Canal St. Martin, which is a hip spot to hang out nowadays. The canal is indeed quite lovely, and they close off motor traffic along it on the weekends. I stopped at a little cafe (amusingly, when I asked for the menu, the waitress brought an enormous blackboard with the specials written on it out to my table.) While I roasted in the sun I wrote the first draft of my long screed below. (I had what amounted to a mess of egg over good country ham with some sort of vinegar sauce--it was fabulous.)

After brunch I walked over towards Buttes Chaumont park, one of the gems of non-tourist Paris, a magnificent landscape of hills, crags, and a lovely lake. Here's a picture of the grotto in the center of the park:However, on the way over to the park, I had my first experience with...Latin lovers.

I was crossing the street when a young Tunisian guy (as he told me) came up to me to tell me how pretty I was. Which was nice of him, but I kept walking. He followed me, and we struck up a bit of a conversation in French. Admittedly, I was a bit lonely, which let me fall into the trap of talking with this guy, something I wouldn't have done in English. And of course, he got a bit grabby as the conversation progressed. I did finally manage to extricate myself (after a bunch of "arretes" and "ma relationship est grave!") but it left me slightly shaken. And of course this all flows into my background as a trans woman: should I be worried because I don't have the experience that would have helped me learn the skills to deflect guys like this, or relieved because I haven't spent my whole life deflecting guys like this?

Later that day, as I was walking home (baguette in hand, of course), another guy came up to me and began to talk rapidly in French to me. I couldn't really follow him, but it wasn't hard to figure out what he was after. I let him down firmly but gently: "S'il vous plait lassez-moi suele." (Please leave me alone.)

And oh! On Monday, I went to pay my respects at the Louvre (you have to see the Mona Lisa while you're in just do.) And as I was walking to the Metro, another guy wanted to "make my acquaintance." This time I just said I didn't speak French.

But the best story has to be when I was walking home from the Louvre on Monday. I passed a store I had previously seen, and just had to snap a pic, because...well, because the sign is a rather weak joke:

The name of the store is Les Bonnes Compines which in French means something approximately like "The Good Girlfriends." Fair enough...but it's written with out the space between Les and Bonnes, making it look a bit like...something else in English.

As I said, a weak joke. I'm not proud

Like most of the stores in that region of Paris, it's a wholesaler--I had basically landed in the Parisian garment district, with "Ne vente pas au detail" (wholesale only) in almost every window. And for some reason, when I took the pic, a woman in a telephone booth (yes, they still have them there) started to scream at me.

I couldn't follow everything she said, but it was mostly about how I shouldn't take a pic. I tried to explain, but only got as far as Parce que...("because...") before she started to scream again. She even spit on the ground. Eventually I just walked away...I guess she thought I was some sort of corporate spy or something.

Shows what you get for acting like a tourist; I should know better.


  1. The Buttes Chaumont is one of my favorite places in Paris. It's one of the few spots that doesn't smell of piss and has a little oxygen! (Living in Paris for a while really makes you appreciate that...)

    As for annoying guys on the street trying to hook up with you, Paris is the worst I've ever seen. I mean, they are everywhere, but only in Paris did they see fit to simply grab me out of nowhere and try to dance with me. WHEN I WAS BARELY 12 YEARS OLD. WTF. And a few days later, another guy thought he could KISS ME. ON THE MOUTH. WITH TONGUE. because I told him what time it was. *shudders*

    Despite which, I never acquired any skill at deflecting (other than staring straight ahead and walking faster), so I think you should simply be glad you could grow up without it :)

  2. Definately relieved! The only strategy I have devised is a loud Fuck Off!!!!! Seems to generally work well :)