Friday, August 15, 2008

There is a crowd of people gathered around a small section of the circular pond in the Tuileries. They are snapping picture after digital picture. Murmurs arise from the crowd- I make my way through to see the celebrity. I will not be denied. Who is it, Britney, Lindsey? It’s no one, just two ducks standing on the edge of the concrete embankment looking for treats. It’s hard to not try to capture every moment of ones vacation, but people, we need to try.

I’ve brought my book with me, which is good because all the bookstores are closed for the Feast of the Assumption. Everything is closed. I went to Catholic school for 6 years and I have no clue what the Feast of the Assumption is but what I do know is that everything is closed and the only diversion in Paris are two ducks

It seems that the Germans are slowly replacing the Italians as tourists here. I don’t know if there is a travel pattern but if I were a hunter I would say that German Season has begun. Dark hair and tan bodies are being replaced with blondes and sunburns, incessant loud banter for low guttural sounds. A beautiful blonde German girl sits in the chair next to mine and when she spoke to her friend it reminded me of the sound our 1968 VW Bus made when we tried to start it in February. The German tourists have that wistful, ‘what might have been’ look. They snap out of it long enough to photograph the ducks.

If you think Paris is slow in August, you would be right, but imagine Paris in August during a 3 day weekend- I’m half expecting tumble weeds to roll down Boulevard de Sebastopol The “assumption” being you can’t do anything except sit by a pond with a book and generalize about entire populations. The trinket shops on Rivoli are open. They know what their clientele want: ashtrays, key chains, scarves, lighters, t-shirts with either the Eiffel Tower or the ubiquitous Chat Noir. I swear, put that black cat on anything and it will sell. I don’t know what the plan is for the new Iran policy but if they put a black cat on the front cover people will buy into it.

Where are all the Parisians in August? They aren’t all on the southern coast or holed up in the family’s country homes. I suspect that those that aren’t out of town are hiding in their attics so no one knows they didn’t go anywhere- their windows are blacked out, food is scarce.

Scene: Small room, dark, window shades drawn. Marie sits at the kitchen table preparing cabbage, again. Jean Claude enters smoking a cigarette.

Marie: Where did you get cigarettes? I thought you were out.
Jean Claude: I snuck out late last night, no one saw me.
Marie: Mon Dieu we will be discovered!

Me, I’m enjoying the sun and reading a bad book about London by Bill Bryson. Someone has been kind enough to write up their opinion of the book on the inside cover- the penciled review is two pages and it isn’t flattering
“A vocabulary and style beneath that of a rapper- his vulgarity is appalling.”
The vulgarity doesn’t bother me just the fact that the book did reasonably well and was probably better suited as a …well a blog.

People are still photographing the ducks, when the ducks stick their head in the water and wiggle their little duck butts you can hear a collective “awwww” and CLICK.

Paris- open some store, we are dying out here.


moppety said...

I have to agree about Bryson. In my professional capacity I can say that when he writes about language it's like an error per page.

LDP said...

How typical of the French to disappear when the Germans come knocking.

Woo hoo!

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

amy said...

I must be crazy that this post made me miss Paris... psst, Paris in August is a great time for getting some writing done.

Starman said...

In the event you really don't know, the Feast of the Assumption is the celebration of the Virgin Mary taken into heaven complete with body and soul together.

linda may said...

Pleased to hear observations from Paris. I laughed at you petanque post, very good.

stephen.hambric said...

ah, I love the thought of Paris in August. Just try a Sunday in Central Pennsylvania. I can't decide what to do first, the ironing or perhaps a trip to Target. The options are endless.

I suppose I could reread my copy of Bryson's book in preparation of a trip to London in the Spring. I will pull it off the shelf where all of the other Bryson books reside. At least I don't have tacky ashtrays and lighter from Paris cluttering my home.

My advice is to never read a book you don't like. Perhaps this is why I was an English major for only 20 minutes.

gautami tripathy said...

I agree about Bryson!


Has anything changed?

Priscilla said...

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks Bryson is less than the great writer that some think he is. I disliked him since the first time I read one of his books.
It is a sad comment to the poor state of education in the Catholic schools (both in the US and France) that you don't know this feast. As an Anglican I learned about all the church year's important days - and the Anglican church doesn't subscribe to the doctrine of the Assumption!

Misplaced said...

In defense of my parents and educators I was taught the meaning of the Feast of the Assumption but it wasn't something I felt the need to retain- I'm far too busy judging Anglicans.

Peter Tonk said...

The VW bus was a 1966.
The only good authors are unpublished ones.
The Germans were trying to figure out where the liver was on the duck.
Bryson is funny, don't forget to laugh.
If the Assumption was so important we would be giving presents on that day.

Anonymous said...

go to london

Stone said...

***I suspect that those that aren’t out of town are hiding in their attics so no one knows they didn’t go anywhere- their windows are blacked out, food is scarce.***

Sounds funny, but it's actually a realistic scenario...there ARE people who cannot afford to go on holiday - who hide in their appartments throughout the entire month of August, I kid you not.

BTW, I discovered your blog *today* - what a shame you're giving it up...I can relate a LOT to your experience (carte de séjour, the bitchy secretary and such :-) - I lived and worked in Lyon for 2 years.

If you want to have a good laugh though, check out "One Year in the Merde"...I laughed my butt off, seriously!
At any rate, your blog is a fun read (maybe you should consider publishing it?!?)

Good luck back home :-)