Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pardone M'Whaa

There is a show on television that simulates life on earth after the extinction of man. I think they’re pandering to the Mayan demographic. Left unattended the vacant buildings have all sorts of vegetation slowly overtaking them. After only being away for ten days my body does a good impression of those buildings. Things are growing out of inappropriate places. My bathroom cabinet resembles a tiny garden shed with all sorts of tools for trimming, pruning, and edging. It’s a constant battle of upkeep and my curb appeal is getting tougher to maintain the older I get.

The trip I’m referring to was to France, my first and hopefully not my last there, although, they may feel differently. When asked how I found the French I’d say “Easy, they’re all over the place.” (If you like that joke then look for my new book “The Wit and Wisdom of Popsicle Sticks” under my pen name: Earl Leon Dementia) In preparation for my journey I watched every Pepe Le Pew cartoon I could get my hands on and purchased a Marcel Marceau French Mime to English Dictionary so I could converse with the natives.

In fairness, I did try to speak the language but apparently they have an obscene word for every common one. When I ordered the duck it came out grilled assholes. My wife nearly died of embarrassment when I asked for the check but came out as if I was referring to a female body part. After a few days I gave up and resorted to my Inspector Clouseau impersonation speaking only English with a French accent. I was getting so use to speaking this way that when I came across another American I began to pretend I was French trying to speak English. When I moved my chair in a restaurant so a gentleman pushing a stroller could get by he said “Mare See Boo Coo.” whereas I responded, “Your French is most excellent monsieur.”

With the exception of the aforementioned dish, the food was phenomenal. My daughter had a hot chocolate and brioche with sugar every morning for breakfast. Although, memories of my mother kept popping into my head when she did. My mom was uncomfortable being treated and had to complain about something along the way to discount what you were doing for her. When taking her to lunch for her birthday one year she ordered chicken salad on a brioche. When the sandwich came she looked down her nose and in her best Edna May Oliver voice announced “That is not a brioche!” Where in the waiter skulked away as heads of other patrons turned toward our table. Will my lunch PTSD ever go away?

It was interesting being in a socialist country. I don’t know why everyone here is so afraid of it? Everyone gets paid well, has free health care, take six-week vacations, there is a more even distribution of wealth, and no one ever asks for a tip or expects one. The service was just as good if not better than in the U.S. too. Except for the cab drivers that is. They seem annoyed if you want to hire them. After getting off the train in Versailles dragging along our luggage we asked a cabby for a lift to our hotel. He began arguing with my wife in French. When I asked her what that was all about she told me he said “Why don’t you just walk? It’s only a mile and a half down cobblestone streets.” It seems they would rather just sit around and smoke cigarettes than do their job. Once you get in the cab they do their best to get you out as fast as possible.

Many of the tourist in our hotel, and I believe this is true with many Europeans, have no shame in their bodies no matter what condition they’re in. This is the part of Puritanical America that I appreciate. After walking several hours in the sun and seeing the sites of Aix-en-Provence, we went back to the hotel to relax by the pool. It wasn’t very relaxing to me, however. For lounging a short distance away was a rather old couple. He in a Speedo too sizes too small, and she a one piece that could have used one more. They started rolling around on the blue chaise lounge like a couple of teenagers. I remember it was blue because it matched the veins in her leg. His hands were all over her stretch marks like he was reading the sports section in a Braille newspaper. We traded the pool for gelato the following day and never looked back.

Being back home a week now, my body is fully recovered. I did some sketching while in France, but not as much as I’d have like. I am hoping to use my reference photos for a painting or two at which time I’ll publish them in a future blog. Below is one I did by a very different pool. Seems I spent a lot of time around pools. We most certainly want to go back someday. I hear they have some great museums there too.