Friday, August 23, 2013

Fish on Pavement

Paris. August. It's quiet. And lovely. Especially if you can ignore the fact that most Parisiens are currently having more fun than you, ie, they are in nature, which is where humans go when the weather gets hot. Sometimes I do wonder if that's where you should be more often than that, but then I think Work and I think Shut Up. Summer. Summer is probably better spent somewhere with a) fresh water or b) salt water or c) a shaded garden with dappled light on grass on which toddlers can take their pants off and dance whilst you sip rosé with glaçons in it and nibble at some fresh prawns whilst smoking a cigarette in a well-fitted bikini and a great pair of sunglasses and perhaps even one of those glittery turbans you saw in the Elle magazine today or d) just anywhere with nature and not with bins.

Which leads me to bins. In the rue des Petites Ecuries you really know about bins, especially if you're as close as we are to the Faubourg St Denis. Bins + August = a certain smell that we all know as baked garbage, but any resident of Paris will know as baked French garbage, which is worse than any other garbage because there is a lot of duck guts and cheese in there. Add sun and even half a day of staff shortage and you have yourself a very very disgusting apéro outside the Napoléon which is the only café open in the whole 'hood because everyone else is lounging on some dappled grass somewhere, in a glittery turban, smoking. 

After a few years of being cool about being the only ones in Paris for the entire summer, you do start to wonder what else is out there - what everyone else is doing. It's a bit like you got sent to bed early and all the kids are out playing in the street. Everything is sleepy and quiet; one boulangerie serves the entire quartier, and the staff are grumpy as hell as they want to be in the Ardèche with their friends. It's just not pleasant. But for those years you suck it up as it's better, and if you can wait til september everywhere is less crowded and half the price. You refuse to be told at which time of the year you are permitted to vacation. Screw you Paris. We can take you.

You play chess. You walk. You go to the park. You drink. You open up the windows. You put buckets on the floor in your apartment and pretend they're pools. You go to the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes and the Buttes Chaumont where there is a trickling stream full of cigarette butts you try to ignore. You try to be cool about it. It's only a month.

And then today, you quietly lose your mind. Your lips are dry, your face is grim - you're a fish, slapping on pavement. This is the day you go and throw yourself over the bridge on the Canal like Nick did once, to the horror of all the bourgeois bohemians flapping on the banks. They got it, but were also sick at what lay beneath. He emerged, slippery with sludge. But, he said, it had been worth it. It had killed the craving. 

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