Bourgeois, but Still “Adorable”

“You ride the Metro?!”  Parisian friends had been aghast that we would be so common, but then fearing they had offended us quickly modified their stance. “Well, I guess it works very well for tourists and students to get around Paris.” It also works very well for those of us who have decided to live the life of a Montmartre local for two months.

Anvers Metro

Friends also advised us that if we were determined to live local, we should buy a month’s metro pass which allowed unlimited rides. Key to its purchase was an “official” photo taken in one of the kiosks at a train station; the photo instructions were very clear: we were forbidden to smile, wear glasses, have any hair over our faces and we MUST look straight at the camera. The result was a true mug shot (missing the ID numbers) and worthy of a “most wanted” poster hanging in US Post Offices of yore. Perk looked particularly degenerate in his picture (I realized that I rarely see him without a smile!)

Worth 10,000 Words

With photos in hand we stood in line behind 30 or so others at the ticket/information booth at Gare du Nord .Only one attendant was on duty; we marveled aloud at his patience as he sold train tickets to London, answered questions about Metro connections, explained the value of Euros, sympathized with a couple who had missed their train to Amsterdam.  The blonde university student behind us in the queue listened to Perk and me chatter, and then asked in broken English why we had the photos. We explained about the month’s pass.

As the queue wound slowly forward, Perk worked with her to figure out which would be the most economical package for her three-week stay in Paris. (You know how he LOVES numbers!)  She decided on the month’s pass, but needed to get her picture taken. At least thirty more people had joined the queue behind us. She pondered. Were the savings worth losing her place in line?

“You get your picture taken, and we’ll save your spot,” we volunteered. The students behind her agreed to the plan and she loped toward the nearby kiosk.

Inspector Clouseau

Soon she was engaged in an argument with a uniformed agent. He kept shaking his head forcefully, “No, No, NO!” She kept arguing, gesturing toward Perk and me.  “Yes, Yes, YES!” The uniform eyed us suspiciously as she kept talking. What was she telling him? Why did he keep looking at us? Did he think we were smugglers, terrorists?  Had he seen Perk’s picture?

Perk’s Paris Metro Pass

The ticket line moved forward as they argued. Only two groups were ahead of us. Finally he shrugged, and she dodged into the photo booth; the uniform continued to watch us closely.

Within minutes and pictures in hand, she jumped into line behind us. The agent grimaced and moved away.

“Thank you,” she gasped.  “The kiosk attendant wanted to work on the machine. He said he would take 30 minutes. I said, ‘No, I must have my picture taken NOW.’ He argued.

“I said, ‘My parents are waiting in line for me. See, they are over there. I must hurry.’ He still didn’t believe me. ‘They will be angry if they have to get out of line after waiting so long. If you don’t believe they are my parents, go ask them!’”

“I know it was not nice of me to say such a lie. But I knew you would help me out. You are so gentille.”

“Adorable” in the US. “Gentille” in France. Either will do.

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Comments

  1. What can I say? I knew when we setup the blog then dropped you off at the airport you would keep us engaged!

  2. What a great story Cyndee! Every bit of your time there is an adventure and I love the way you share it in your writing. Perk, if I ran into you looking like that, I’d definitely be scared. Keep smiling….

  3. I certainly am going to enjoy Paris for two months!!! Keep on bloggin’!!!

  4. OK…so, Perk looks like a disturbed person that we need to keep far away from small children!
    When Aubrey and I were last in Paris (his favorite city ever) we went everywhere on the Metro. I did not understand it all but he did and we went all over the place like locals. It is great system.

  5. Love your writing Cyn, but are you sure that’s not a prison ID of Larry !! LOL

  6. Anne Cheng says:

    That young lady sure had you two pegged!!! Couldn’t have picked a better word!

  7. This is so fun to follow you, its like being there!

  8. Vicki Manning says:

    I am so glad that you are having fun. You have the best perspective on things. Life is an adventure. Thank you for reminding us of that with your great stories. I miss you.

  9. Cyndee & Perk, but how else would you travel around the greatest city in the world?!?! BTW, I love the pic of the Art Deco Metro stop. Perk, I have never seen you without that big, beautiful smile (you certainly look like a Parisian now! hee hee)

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