A Night of Compliments

Got up at 11 this morning since we’d been out late last night. The plan for today was to meet up at Suzannah’s and chill. All of us got ready and started fielding text messages from the rest of our group. Rouge and Kyle (for whatever bizarre reason) had gone to the pool near Kyle’s house at 8 AM to get a workout in, which is nuts since we all got home at two in the morning. They were tired, so they said they’d meet up with us later on. Joan, Sheila and I headed over to Suzannah’s at four. We all hung out and played our usual ratslap/”slap a bitch” card game, and Suzannah enlightened us on a new rule: Snuggling in the Hammock. You can slap if a queen/jack or a queen/king are played one right after the other. Once Kyle was rested enough, we went over to the metro to “pick him up.”

On the way, there was a bit of a fiasco. Suzannah realized she’d left her Navigo pass in her house, so I went back to get it with her. Right where we realized it, a drunken (probably homeless) man was apparently about to pee on someone’s car, and a man in a business suit was trying to stop him. The drunk stepped backwards, tripped, and hit the back of his head really hard on the sidewalk. It was a REALLY deafening crack. The first thought it my head was “I think I just heard that man die.” The man in the business suit was taking care of him, so Suzannah and I kept walking. We got back to her place, grabbed her Navigo… and accidentally locked her keys in the house. Her family was away at a wedding until tomorrow night. I told her not to panic. Maybe family or a neighbor had a copy of the keys! I had her text her host mom and tell her what she’d done, since a text was easier to reply to than a phone call. If nothing else, Rouge’s host mom is evidently very cool with guests, and Kyle’s host parents were out of town at a wedding as well, and he has an extra bed. We headed back out… and that man that hit his head was still lying on the sidewalk where he fell… I couldn’t tell if he was breathing when I walked by. If I’d known the equivalent for 911 in France, I would have called it… There were plenty of people near him, but they may have just thought he was sleeping. I flat out saw him hit his head on the pavement. All I could think when I was walking toward the metro stop was “If I was on What Would You Do right now, I just totally failed.” Once we met up with Sheila, Joan, and Kyle, we got the other side of the story. Apparently, once the guy fell and hit his head, he really did have to pee, because he just whipped it out and started relieving himself while he was lying on the ground, so Sheila and Joan ran to the metro stop. I still felt guilty about not helping him, and mentioned it. Kyle told me the emergency number here is 112, and I almost ran back to the man to try to help him. The fact that I thought wearing heels today was a smart idea stopped me. Now that I know the emergency number, I’ll be a good samaritan…

We were all hungry and craving dinner, so Suzannah whipped out a guide book for cheap eats, and it took us back to the Bastille area, which Kyle was slightly unhappy about, because it took him back the way he came (same lines on the metro) and he could have just met us there if we’d figured it out before hand. Once we got there, we found an Italian place, and I saw that they had omelets on the menu, so I figured I could get away with eating there. Once we sat down, I remembered that entrée meant appetizer, not meal. You’d think I would have figured that out by now… As I scanned the menu for something that might be safe, I saw that they had muscles on the menu! Only problem with that… I now had to face my worst fears and ask if they had flour in the sauce… Once the waiter came to take our orders, the way he worked down the table meant I’d go last. Suzannah ordered the same thing I wanted, so when I opened my mouth and said “Je pense que je voudrais la même chose, mais….” (I think I want the same thing, but), the waiter looked really surprised, smiled, and complimented me on my French. I thanked him, and continued. “C’est cuire avec farine ou pas?” (Is this cooked with flour, or not?) “Non, à la crème veut juste avec de la crème.” (No, à la crème just means it has cream.) So I ordered it. Sadly, he came back a couple minutes later saying they were out of muscles… Suzannah ordered some pasta, and I ordered a salad, which was still freaking delicious… and three euros more expensive… We finished eating around nine, and headed back to our usual metro stop to meet Rouge. It was getting close to Carrefour’s closing time, so Kyle, Rouge and I bolted over to get Rouge some dinner (her host family disappeared without feeding her) and some wine to take to the Latin Quarter tonight. Once we did that, we met up with Joan, Sheila and Suzannah back at our place to finish primping for tonight (needless to say, I changed my shoes), and we headed out to the Latin Quarter, where we met up with Sharon (a good friend of mine who knew Rouge well and told both of us that we’d get along well from our university back home, she’s doing a different study abroad program here). On the way there, Rouge got thirsty and wanted to get something to drink out of a vending machine. She’d put her money in, and the train arrived. We told her to get on, and she definitely tried, but she managed to get her head stuck in the closing doors… We were too busy laughing to help her get on… So we waited at the next stop for her to catch the next train. At least she got the drink she wanted…

We headed down to the river to play Never Have I Ever again, but we switched to I Have (so if anyone HADN’T done something you said on your turn, they drank) part way through. I won that one. I wasn’t feeling all that great by the time we got to the river, so I took very small sips from the wine bottles. Once we were done with that game, and most of the bottles were finished (Sharon and I were splitting a bottle, and ours definitely had a lot left in it), Sharon had the idea for us to play Truth or Dare. Two truths in, and Sharon dared Sheila to go over to a group nearby and give one of them her number… first mistake. One of the guys came over and asked what the whole number thing was about. A couple more came over and started talking to us. Needless to say, my red flags were going up all over the place. It wasn’t until the first guy that came over went away, and one guy named Jeffery (I can’t quite remember, he only said it once) and his friend Mamadou stuck around and started talking politics with Sharon that I started to relax a little bit. They weren’t too bad. I stayed quiet most of the time and just listened to Jeffery talk. I thought they’d go away after a while, but then Joan (completely pompette) asked if he had a cigarette. He stood up, pulled out a box, and oh look, he happened to have two left. He gave her one, she passed it around the group, and he smoked the other. So I’m coughing and waving the fumes away since we all know how much I love that smell… and he keeps talking about politics, and I start to get sucked in. Mind you, I haven’t had much to drink. I’m not feeling anything. This guy’s smart. We find out that he’s only 20, like the rest of us. So now the rest of the group wants to go somewhere we can dance. Jeffery says he knows of a nightclub we can try to go to, but because Kyle’s got tennis shoes on, there’s a chance we won’t be able to get in. We try it. On the way there, he starts talking me up since we were still on politics. He asked for my name. I gave him Marie, my middle name, since I wasn’t about to give him my real one. As much as I hate talking to strangers, Jeffery and Mamadou seemed safe. They’re locals, they’re our age, there are more of us than there are of them, and frankly, I only liked keeping them around because I was speaking French the entire time they were around (which ended up being about three hours). Jeffery even said I spoke it incredibly well, and my accent was almost unnoticeable. At any rate. So Jeffery and I are chatting, and since I’ve lied about my name, I don’t see the sense in lying about much else, there’s no way he’s going to find me again. He knows I study theatre, he knows I’m from California, and told me that he spent three weeks traveling between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. He knows I’m studying at Paris III, and that I’m here until December. We get to the club he wanted to take us to, and we couldn’t get in because of how he and Mamadou were dressed! Go figure. So we go back toward the pub that was playing the American music last night, and we wait for a few minutes because Jeffery and Joan stopped to buy another pack of cigarettes. Once they caught up, everyone but me and Suzannah ends up getting a cigarette, so I’m coughing up a storm. Jeffery laughed and said I was cute (for all of the coughing). I don’t drink much, I don’t smoke, I’m sensitive to the smell of smoke, so he kept the cigarette as far away from me as he could. It’s a little past 1 AM by this point, and I’d managed to half forget that I’d told him my name was Marie, and I couldn’t figure out why this fool was calling me his wife for half the night (marie is one translation for wife).

So we find “our” pub, and the bouncer tells us he’s not letting anyone else in. Jeffery tells us the salsa place next door has a bar and a dance floor, so we go there. He then tells me (if I’m okay with it), it’ll be easier for us to get in if we make it look like he’s my boyfriend. I laughed and said I had a boyfriend back in America, and he said that was fine, this was just to get us into the club, so he held my hand until we got in, let go, and headed off to the bar. There were a couple Venezuelan men at the bar that recommended the Mojito to Rouge and Joan, and one gave them his email and phone number because he was a firm believer in solidarity, and told them to call him if they ever needed anything. I was trying to hide behind Joan and Rouge, but when the man asked if there were any other Americans with them, they pointed me out, so I introduced myself (again, as Marie), and the first thing out of this guy’s mouth (after he could form some words, which took him a couple seconds) was “Vous êtes très jolie, mademoiselle!” (You’re very beautiful, miss!) I smiled, said thank you, and that he was very sweet. Then he said I was even prettier when I smiled. I was just raking in the compliments tonight, first my French is great according to a waiter, then it’s great according to Jeffery, then I’m cute because cigarette smoke makes me cough, then I’m beautiful according to a Venezuelan guy at a bar… does wonders for my already inflated ego…

I was getting nervous about missing the metro home (and I really didn’t want to have to take the bus), so after a few minutes, Kyle, Suzannah, Sharon and I left the salsa place, and hurried off to the metro. It was 1:45 AM, and we’d been told the metro stops running at two. We just missed a train when we got to the station, so we chatted a bit. Apparently, despite the fact that Jeffery had been chatting with me all this time, once he’d ditched me in the salsa place, he went up to Sharon in the bar area, tried to buy her a drink, and convince her to come home with him. How disgusting! We caught a train at 1:55, but we had to make a transfer, and by the time we made it to the platform for ligne 1, we found that the trains had stopped…

We were way too far away to walk home. I haven’t studied the bus system much since I’d been hoping I could avoid taking it at all costs… Kyle was able to remember what lines go to his area, so now it was just a matter of finding the right stop. We walked by three bus stops out of the metro, and had just about given up (thinking that the buses had stopped running too), and the bus for Kyle’s area stopped right by us, so we hopped on. I have NEVER had to take a bus before in my entire life. I hate it. I was nauseous the entire time. It was cramped, I had to stand for most of it… I don’t care if we get another late start and we get to where we want to party at 11 PM, I’m leaving by one to make sure I can take the metro home, it’s a lot more convenient. We made it to Kyle’s usual metro stop and vowed to always leave in time to take trains instead of buses. We walked as far as we usually would until our usual split, so I continued down the road on my own while Kyle and Suzannah walked back to his place… at three in the morning. In all honesty, I’m okay with walking home by myself in my area of town. It’s quiet and relatively safe, but I’d NEVER do this around where I live at home, or where my college is. Ever vigilant (and typically paranoid), I kept my eyes peeled for anything suspicious, and I spotted something. There was a man about 100 yards further up the street from me in a darkened area, and he hid in what looked like a park as soon as I saw him, so I crossed over to the other side of the street since it was better lit and I didn’t want to chance anything. I think I’d be able to handle myself if something happened since I’ve taken some basic self defense classes and I’ve done martial arts in the past, but I’m not going to go looking for trouble to test it. I made it home just fine, and texted Kyle to let him know I made it home safe.

En amour, écrire est dangereux, sans compter que c’est inutile. -Alexandre Dumas Fils

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