Paris Diaries: Lost in Translation
One might think that freed of the Sauvage that I would immediately run around reveling in the Paris that I had been missing. Unfortunately, I was still sick. The previous evening I had walked around for about two and a half hours, and I woke with sore legs as well as my usual flu symptoms. While on past trips I wouldn't let something like my health get in the way of my Cultural Death March, I had learned from past experience that trying to push myself in Paris was dangerous. I walked around for a bit, windowshopped, and bought myself a new dress-a patterned turquoise dress that turns heads whenever I wear it. When I was in high school a woman named Rita who owned a dress store called Rita's Bleutent on Madison told me "You can always use a new dress and a new man and in that order." It was good advice and I've always followed it.
I returned to the hotel in the afternoon for a 3 hour nap. Considering how many vacations the French have, they understand the necessity of rest. They have the work ethic of my cat, which means a particularly ambitious day involves a casual stroll to breakfast, some loafing around showing casual disdain for about 3 hours, a leisurely lunch, a six hour nap, perhaps a bath, and then finally dinner. Considering that I was still sick, this seemed like a pretty decent schedule for me. While I was in the bathroom freshening up, I noticed the "please towels you wish cleaned" note on the mirror. Unfortunately whoever wrote the
English translation of this sign was clearly not as fluent in English as the hotel supposed as the message in English was "For the ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION We thank you for agreeing to put by ground the bathroom linen which you wish to make wash."
After my nap I decided to go someplace nearby for dinner. I left the hotel without my coat, just wearing a heavy sweater. The Parisians are pussies when it comes to the cold. It was about forty degrees that nhnight, but the Parisians were buddled up like it was blizzarding outside. They wore hats, mittens, scarves, heavy coats. They hurried and rushed to their destinations complaining about the bitter cold, while I walked, the cool air on my cheeks. I wondered how the Parisians would handle a winter in NYC. The first time I was in Paris in January with Henri, he had commented on how cold it was. I wanted to tell him, "It's not cold until you walk outside and get an ice cream headache just from breathing. THAT'S COLD." As it was, all I did was smile and nod.
As I wasn't cold, I indulged in one of my favorite activities-looking at movie marques. What makes this so entertaining is not only to see how movie titles are translated, for example Death Proof was translated as La Boulevarde de la Mort (Boulevard of Death), but which titles are left in English. So looking at one marques one might find that Once Upon a Time is translated into Il Etait Une Fois (Once Upon a Time), but Gone Baby Gone is left in English.
When one is in Paris, one understands how Dadaism came into being. Round a corner and you will end up facing something both stylish and absurd
-this gorgeous house, for example, lit up beautifully with a car under a kind of 70s futuristic plastic bubble parked in front. There were no indications of why the car was under a plastic bubble-it simply was-as if it was placed there just to challenge the curious to find an explanation.
Further down the street was a rather pathetic display of Christmas cheer.
Some trees had been arranged around a fake little pond. The trees had been sprayed with fake snow, and some batting had been placed on the ground to give the impression of snowy countryside. This illusion might have been more compelling if the batting and snow didn't just suddenly stop. If more artistry had been in the transition it could have worked, instead it looked like a rather half assed attempt at Christmas decoration. Since it was well into January, I wasn't sure why there were still Christmas decorations, but I rather enjoyed their ridiculousness.
On my way to dinner a man followed me into the restaurant. He wouldn't leave me alone until I told him I was married. It re-assured me. I still had it-illness and heartbreak be damned. I sat down to a decadent steak with a glass of red wine assured that there was still some good adventure to be had on this vacation.
Bad Bunni posted at 8/04/2008 08:29:00 AM