It doesn’t feel like summer in Paris yet, but it is. The weather has been awful, cold, gray and rainy, but it’s still Paris, and I don’t care if it snows, I’m always happy to be here. There’s always lots to do, and the big excitement in my life is that I’m turning a playroom into a home movie room, which will be fun when my kids are home, or on winter nights, to share a pizza and watch a movie on a big screen with friends. Pretty tame pursuits!!
Other than that, I’m enjoying the usual art shows, auctions in my favorite auction house; I’m taking a little break from work, seeing friends, and doing errands for the house. I got a new couch for the movie room yesterday. It’s nice to take a break from real life, real problems, real work, deadlines, and all the pressures of daily life that are all too real most of the time. And it’s relaxing to do something mindless like buy new soap dishes, or something for the kitchen. I don’t know if you saw the July issue of Vanity Fair, the last page is something called The Proust Questionnaire. They interviewed me for it this month, and in it I admitted that I have too much work ethic, and don’t play enough, which is all too true. I work most of the time. And if I take a break, it is usually for or with my children, so once in a while it’s nice to do absolutely nothing and do things on my own, even if it’s just errands for the house. I do a lot of things that I ‘have’ to do, or should do, so unscheduled time is fun for me!!
I had a very funny Paris moment yesterday, which is something that does happen here occasionally, though not very often to me. I was waiting to meet a friend to go to a giant hardware store to get some things for one of my kids, and since it was a very unglamorous errand (like a lot of what I do!! I am a real person with a regular life most of the time), I looked very unglamorous. I didn’t bother to wear make-up (I often don’t, unless I’m going out), had my hair in a ponytail, and was wearing jeans and an old leather jacket. And I stood in the street outside my house, waiting for the friend to show up to pick me up. And as I stood there, a car stopped, and an ordinary looking man looked out his car window at me, and shouted “How much?” How much? How much what? I didn’t register what he was saying. “How much?!” he asked again, pointing at me with a somewhat crabby expression, and then I got it. Ahhh….yes….how much….after all this is Paris, and to be honest, there are sometimes hookers on my street, although it’s a nice street in a residential neighbourhood. The hookers are often in their 40’s, and some are even considerably older. Most of them are pulled over in cars, with their signals flashing, and a few are on foot. (There’s one I wave to when I see her, because I’ve seen her for so many years, she’s old enough to be my mother, and we’ve never spoken, but smile pleasantly and wave hello. She’s kind of a landmark in the neighbourhood, and I worry when I don’t see her, and wonder if she’s sick). And in answer to the man’s question I laughed, shook my head, and said no. “No?” he asked, seriously irritated with me. “You’re not working?”. No, I shouted back, “I’m not working.” True, but I have never worked in the line of work he was looking for. “Then what are you standing there for?” He said, really annoyed with me by then. It seemed useless to explain that I was waiting to go to the hardware store with a friend, and I’m not a hooker, if he couldn’t see that for himself. He finally drove off, shaking his head, at how uncooperative I was. It doesn’t happen often, but these things do happen in Paris. If you stand on a street corner for more than a few minutes, looking like you’re not going anywhere, people might think you’re a hooker. And if some guy likes your look, he might just ask you ‘how much’. I know it’s a serious issue, and women are sexually exploited all over the world, it’s not something I take lightly. And prostitution is illegal in France too, but it is also tolerated, and it’s a line of work that some women choose of their own accord instead of working at something else. The woman I frequently see in my neighbourhood doesn’t look unhappy, and she doesn’t look any more distressed than the women I see at the checkout counter at Safeway. These are not young girls; they’re grown women and have a right to make their own choices, however different than ours. And I have to tell you that, with all serious thoughts aside, I thought it was funny that the guy thought I was a hooker, in no make-up, my frumpy go to the hardware clothes, old enough to have grown children, and in my housewife role. In a funny way, it was a compliment of sorts, and it really did strike me funny. How much? Are you kidding?? But he wasn’t kidding, which was what made it funny. Me? A hooker?? Oh please. I laughed about it every time I thought of it yesterday. He thought I was a really bad sport and seriously lazy not to oblige him. Welcome to Paris!!!
No one propositioned me at the hardware store, and the rest of my day was pretty tame. I got the things my daughter needed, did some errands for myself, and had a fun evening out to dinner with a bunch of women friends, we gabbed until after midnight, and went to a restaurant where they specialize in soufflés. I had a cheese soufflé for dinner, and a chocolate one for dessert. And it was delicious and the evening fun. The night before I’d had dinner with friends, and gone to a ‘chocolate tasting’, like a wine tasting only chocolates (one of my serious vices!!), made by eight chocolate makers in Belgium, England, and Italy. It was delicious although I nearly overdosed on chocolate. Tonight, I’m going to the movies. Tomorrow night is the Music Festival in Paris, with professional and amateur musicians playing music all over the streets of Paris. I’ll be watching this event with three of the composers I wrote songs with last year. This weekend I’ll be seeing more friends. And in 2 weeks, the Haute Couture fashion shows will take place, which are always exciting. The sales will be on soon in the stores. And I’ll go on vacation with my kids this summer, and one of my daughters is getting married in August. But in the meantime, I am trotting off to the hardware store, and someone asked me ‘how much?” The sheer absurdity of it was priceless. And although I don’t actually like being confused with a hooker, it was a backhanded compliment of sorts. Life is never dull in Paris. More soon. Hope your summer is off to a great start!!!