Kiss of the Dragon
As I walked down rue de l'opera, I was struck by the number of perfume shops around. Since I had no perfume, and since I was in Paris, I decided to pop into one where I managed to purchase for my mother Eau des Merveilles (Hermes) and for myself Le Baisser du Dragon or Kiss of the Dragon (Cartier). The female perfume clerk who took care of me praised me a great deal claiming that I was very nice for an American. In NY, when a salesperson wants to stroke a client's ego, it is done with a compliment about appearance "You look so thin, young, cool etc," but often in Paris the compliment I received from sales people was that I was nice. I'm not sure if it was because they expected me to be mean or because it was simply an observation about my character ( perhaps the utter lack of make up prevented them from calling me pretty).
After spending more than a human being should on perfume, the clerks loaded me up with extra samples of Mont Blanc perfume (aren't they supposed to make pens?) and shiseido eye cream. I was given so many samples that every day I was in Paris, I wore a different perfume. My favorite would later become Tsar by Van Cleef and Arpels. One of the other clerks, a man with grey hair, came over to talk to me about, of all things, surf and turf. In turns out he had lived in Los Angeles and he missed being able to get steak and lobster on one plate. The female clerk, when he began to explain surf and turf, appeared not to be able to even understand the concept of steak and lobster together.
The Evil Empire
They were more than happy to chat with me so I asked them to recommend a nearby cafe. "Oh" said the female clerk, "there is a starbuck's right at the end of this block." I started laughing, but I didn't want to say "Listen, I didn't fly all this way and lose my luggage and struggle with fishing around in my memory for useful french to go to a starbuck's." But the male clerk said "No, no" obviously my knowledge of surf and turf impressed him deeply, "go to Nicolas, the cafe next door. " which I didn't realize is a chain of wine stores which occassionally have a cafe attached. I thanked them both as they stood there both telling each other how nice I was.
As I was about to leave the female clerk said "Wait" and sprayed a big cloud of perfume at me and sent me off into the streets of Paris stinking of Kiss of the Dragon.

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