Paris Year Zero

Old imaginations of the Latin Quarter had played their part for him, and he had duly recalled its having been with this scene of rather ominous legend that, like so many young men in fiction as well as in fact, Chad had begun. –Henry James, The Ambassadors

I moved to Paris one year ago. I’m about to catch an early morning train (I’ll be traveling for the next week or so), and I’m generally not very keen on commemoration, but, well, I guess the French are rubbing off on me. One year! How about that!

My relationship with the city itself is strained these days, so I’m not up to writing any soaring paeans tonight. The exchange rate is limiting, it’s the height of tourist season, and I might get deported if I don’t finish these two snarling hell-spawn papers before sometime next week. Eek! (How many times have I said this?)

The French, I’ve come to realize, are like cats: proud, sophisticated, elegant. It all makes their ridiculousness all the more ridiculous, and, in turn, endearing. And yet, like cats, they do know how to live. Here are a few things for which I’m grateful they’ve taught me:

Sit in the best seat, even if it’s right next to the only other person in the movie theatre.

Indignation is best communicated non-linguistically.

Different occasions demand different alcohols.

There is no dish that crème fraîche cannot improve.

A rabbit must be cooked in its own blood.


~ by ohkrapp on September 6, 2008.

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