Doing the French Mistake
The waiter was handsome in a kind of younger, thinner, more vulnerable Dave Foley kind of way ( he reminded me a bit of Said, the Algerian with the awful BO, but beautiful cheekbones from my day at the musee D'orsay). In the past my system of merely picking places at random had served me well, and so I put my faith in Paris. The waiter understood from my shyness that I spoke English and ushered me to a seat.
Although I took for years of high school French in which they dutifully instructed me in the difference between a croque madame and a croque monsieur and I had a French phrase book with a special section on menus, I could not decipher this particular menu very well. If it had been written in Cyrillic by a blind dyslexic with poor penmanship, it could not have been more indecipherable to me. I simply wanted steak au poivre or coq au vin or au citron, but the menu resisted all attempts at translation.
Now when the waiter came over and asked if I needed help with the menu, I suppose I could have said yes. That would have been the simple thing to do, and of course I have an almost monomaniacal phobia of doing anything simply. I must find the most difficult pain in the ass way possible, so that I suppose I can feel like I have really accomplished something. This may be why instead of availing myself to services like fresh direct, I prefer to huff and puff my way home pulling a granny cart of groceries like I am one of the Budweiser clydesdales.
Intead I ordered one of the few things on the menu I could understand, sausage with a mustard sauce. A t first the waiter thought I was asking about it, but in an amused voice I said, "No, no I can read the menu. I wanted to order it." And he went to fetch it and a glass of red wine.
Now I don't know what you think of when you think of sausage, but in a country like France I expected, maybe something a kin to bratwurst, or more Germany fair. What I did not expect was the presented with something that was a kin to several thin slices of ham wrapped up like a Cuban cigar.
"Sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but I wouldn't know because I would never eat the filthy mother fucker." Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction
Even before I tasted it, I knew that I suddenly could barely eat. The stress and fatigue of the day hit me, and the smell of the food my stomach constricted, but I cut off an inch hoping that my appetite might return. Between the rubbery texture similar to chewing on an inflatable squid, and the taste, the overwhelming saltiness of HAM, I could barely swallow one bite. Although I love sausage and bacon, I can not, can not, abide ham. I can not explain it, but it is something I live with.
Luckily the mustard sauce was quite nice and I managed to eat quite a few frites with the sauce. But I couldn't even finish all the frites. To be sure my lovely French Dave Foley kept coming by and asking if I was alright, and I had to explain that I simply wasn't hungry. I knew he didn't believe me, if I wasn't hungry, why then was I in a restaurant ordering food? No, he thought I was conceited, too proud to admit that I had order the wrong thing, that I couldn't even translate a menu.
I finished my wine and wandered back to the hotel feeling defeated. Well, I would go to the Musee de Rodin tomorrow. I would go look at sculpture and art and even if I was unhappy in Paris, I would be back in New York soon where at least I could order food without incident. I was thinking these thoughts as I walked dispirited and slightly tipsy back to my hotel room.
As I walk into the hotel, the concierge tells me in very excited French a MAN has been looking for me and left this message. It is Henri's handwriting, with simply his name and phone number. I am too tired, too completely overwhelmed with the defeat of this day to be able to call him, I decide I will go to my room, figure out my root to the musee and go to sleep, and call him tomorrow when I will be fresh.

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