Because I'm an Idiot Posted by Hello
Because my mother's digital camera was in my suitcase, there are no photographs from my trip. I could have gotten a camera, one of those cheapy things, but I figured I lost everything for a reason. I was supposed to enjoy the ephemeral nature of the trip. Besides the big things, like Sacre Coeur, I kind of figured other better photographers than myself had already captured the beauty.
So I was sitting with Henri in the cafe, he is chatting with friends and after a while I thought "Alright, this is cool being a 'real Parisian' but I have things I have to see." I tell Henri that I will call him at six, that I need to go rest and so forth and I head off towards my hotel.
And I had every intention of actually going to the hotel, but then I suddenly walked right by it and continued up and up and up until I reached Sacre Coeur. My first full day in Paris I, the little disabled girl, climbed Monmartre.It is hard to believe that the church was completed in 1919. I gave 2 euros to light a candle to St Michael. I have thought of him as my patron saint after Vampire Hunter D (long story-don't ask). The shrine to St Michael also has a mosaic and a statue of Joan of Arc. When I return to Sacre Coeur, I will take a picture of the shrine ( It turns out there are no photographs of the shrine or the statue available online. Bastards.)
Outside the church, there are artists who try to do portraits and caricatures of tourists. If you absolutely need a lover, these men are more than willing. I suspect they receive some sort of stipend from the tourist board to seduce female tourists and therefore keep the tourist trade booming and the economy from crashing entirely. The artists come from all over. There was a Brazilian named Ricardo ( very cute-tan, shaggy hair), a Morrocan named Marco, a Russian, a couple of Spainiards, and of course some Frenchmen. They chase after you speaking one language after the other, trying to find the one you will respond to. Marco pursues me and quickly abandons the idea of doing my portrait for a fee, changes his mind and offers me a drink. Having not yet had a glass of red wine, I agree to a drink and he takes me to a cafe on top of monmartre where all of the artists come and take his cigarettes, they chat with me, he introduces me to all of them, the occasional artist's girlfriend. He knows five languages. It is hard to feel educated sitting next to someone who speaks five languages, until you realize his definition of "speaks" is fairly loose.
If you are desperate for someone who speaks English, the artists are your best bet. They love to talk up women, and since talking and hawking is a big part of their trade, they are quite skilled at it. We sat and wine. When Marco went to get me a second glass, I realized the name of the cafe we had gone to was Murphy's Irish Bar. Oonly I could fly to Paris, climb monmartre and still end up with a crazy artist in an Irish bar. There are, apparently, some constants to the universe.
After two glasses of wine, he offers to take me to his place in order to examine his art work more closely. Of course, Henri is somewhere awaiting my call. He will be disappointed. He is the first of many men I will abandon all over Paris.
My Life Becomes an Elizabeth Bishop Poem
As Marco and I walk, it begins to rain. Actually it begins to pour. Marco puts his jacket over me. By the time we get to his place, his shirt is plastered to him, even I am sogging. Once there, I realize my sweater, one of the few pieces of clothing I actually had, is gone. Somewhere in the mad dash in the rain it was left behind. I have lost so much, it barely even registers.
His place is very La Vie Boheme. No iron work or chandeliers or even rooms. A tiny little dingy apartment with no toilet or shower, just a sink. Strangely he DOES have a DVD player and stacks of cds and dvds. Odd priorities. He slips on some old jazz and strips off his shirt.
It should be romantic, the rain, the artist's pad, the jazz.
Unfortunately Marco's pad smelled like cat piss. The absence of any cat made the smell even more disturbing. In addition, he had a bottle of the only foul wine I actually had in Paris. It was the type of stuff that makes Boones seem tasty. But really, Marco ended up being a cinq minute homme. Not even quinze, cinq at which point, he fell completely asleep. Utterly bored in the cat piss interior ( he was not even a good artist, surprise suprise), I tell Marco I have to go.
In Paris, people find it as impossible to believe as Americans that I am traveling alone. With Marco, I invent an invisible travel companion. I begin to lie simply because it is easier, because so many people want me to have some travel companion. I tell him that she will be worried if I don't return to the hotel. He seems somewhat unconvinced, but he promises to meet me at monmartre the following evening at nine and he will take me to dinner.
I escape to the street. On the way home I find a chic little boutique. I buy two sweaters and a skirt and continue home. Walking towards my hotel in nothing but my wet jeans and black tank top, silently congratulating myself on how well I can already navigate around Paris, I end up walking directly through Place Pigalle, which is essentially the Paris version of the old 42nd street. It is packed with peep shows, and triple XXX video parlors, there are bars advertising "climatisé", which sounds raunchy, but is really just air conditioning. ( It is odd to me that a place where the main attraction is to get clients hot and bothered, uses cool air as a major draw.)
I realize, once I am already in the midst of parisian porn central, that the only way out is to keep walking through. To go back, I would have to not only walk through the same porn lined streets, but it would take more time. So I just keep my head down and walk quickly. Some of the "escorts" sitting inside at the bars wearing only lingerie look up as I pass. Once they register my gender, they return to their conversation.
I manage to pick up a bra and panties on the way back to my hotel. In a little lingerie store, a plump woman fits me for a bra. If you get lingerie in Paris, real lingerie, and not the vinyl crap that they sell at place Pigalle, it will fit you better than anything you have ever bought before. if Richard Feynman had been hired by NASA to design me a bra, it couldn't be a better bra. I get matching panties in a comfortable mess material.
I realize that I am doing pretty well. I have some clothes and at least a change of underthings. I have toothpaste and toothbrush. I think there are kids who have spent entire summers in europe with less than this. I can handle it for a week. I go back to the hotel and take a bath. I change into my new clothes.
Henri has called and left a message. I ignore it and head to the Tiger restaurant. I have no idea what they serve, but my basic theory is who could possibly fuck up Paris?
more to come...

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