I was in Paris with my girlfriend recently, first time for both of us. And yes, yes, every single thing that’s said is true. The bread, the wine, the cheese, the markets, the veggies, the haricots verts, the chocolate & desserts, the views, the history, the grands boulevards, the Art Nouveau, the monuments, the métro (I love living in New York, love its subways, but 468 stations and 24/7 don’t give license for running a broke, broke-down, filthy public transport), the museums, the fashion, the beautiful people, the ugly people, the chainsmoking hipsters, the prampushing families, the squares, the jardins, the light at 5pm, at 10am, at goddamned _:__ _m, the gutters, the homeless, the doggies, the birdshit — you fall in love with it all whether you want to or not, are jetlagged or not, are homesick or squabbling with your partner or nervous about how wretched your french is or not; christ, you end up falling in love with the spit hanging from a wino’s scabby lip by the time ParisLove is fever-raging in you. That city sexes you to pieces with both the myth of itself and the sensual richness of its actual substance and you get to where you don’t care where the line ends separating the ideal of it from the real of it. Somewhere between your first café dinner & your last pain au chocolat you fall headlong, succumbing to all the starry-eyed movie clichés with unembarrassed abandon.
But before the love stuff, there are other stages. The fingernail-chewing what-if-they-laugh-at-our-American-asses stage. The mundane get-our-Euros-figure-out-Métro-ticket-machines-get-the-hell-out-of-Charles-De-Gaulle stage. The I’m-airsick-maybe-we-can-stay-in-and-watch-BBC-and-eat-cheese? stage. And because I’m sadistic, and I believe in build-up, I’m going to frog-march you through these stages (not all of them so ordinary, some in fact quietly thrilled or outright celebratory, just not that roseate Paris-Love) before I get to the sunset on the Seine in a snug rowboat (it was a big catamaran with tons of other folks on it, but still). (Read More . . .)