Lisette, my angry house mom, found my (sketchy) press credential cards. She says she was cleaning my room and noticed them—I believe she was snooping. “Are you here for the Jacques Chirac story?” she queried. I could tell I’d gone up about seven notches of respect on the Lisette ladder so I just sort of went with it, “Wasn’t it spectacular how many heads of state were here?” I beamed. Since then I have been the clear favorite amongst Lisette’s guests. “Dat last banana is for Madame O”. “No. No. You make you own coffee. Dat coffee is for Madame O”. Sure, I haven’t been exactly honest with her but then, who are we kidding, her real name is not Lisette.
My eye never got better. Yesterday a little girl at the puppet show stuck her tongue out at me. She was probably 3. Anyway too old for a binky so when she dropped it and I accidentally stepped on it I didn’t feel horrible. She buried her head in her mom’s dress and just pointed in my general direction. Sometimes it’s good when you don’t speak perfect French.
The puppet show was at the Luxembourg Gardens. All the little Gabrielles and Théos and Martins (MAAR-tan) sat on the front four rows. The story was Cinderella. There were some similarities to the Americanized version but some differences too. Someone named Guignol would appear from time to time and the kids would all shout, “Guignol! Guignol”. Clearly a crowd favorite. There was no wicked stepmother in the French Cinderella but the wicked stepsisters took up the slack. They were so brutal to poor little Cendrillon that one little Théo yelled, “Vous êtes méchantes!!” (You are mean) which started a front four row explosion. MÉCHANTES! MÉCHANTES! It gave me a little glimpse into The Reign of Terror we’ve read about in French history.
Luxembourg is my favorite of the French Gardens. It’s not a park because you can’t play on the grass. That’s the French distinction between park and garden. The little ponies, the sweet boats that little boys (mostly) sail on the water fountain sea, the puppet theater— they just never get old.
And of course, the Merry-Go-Round. Here they still hold out the little rings that kids try to grab with a stick. This little Gabrielle grabbed the brass ring. That never gets old either.
The whole city of Paris, it seems, is going for the brass ring. Everything is being polished and shined so by the time the 2024 Olympics rolls around this place will be a palace. But each time I come I notice changes I don’t like to see, like people eating and reading (phones) while walking. There are also more chain restaurants. There are now easily fifteen Mexican restaurants when six years ago there was one.
Slowly slowly Paris is losing its Frenchness. Thank God this little Martin still knows what it means to be a Frenchman.
Thank you for following. Your likes and comments give this one eyed apparently old and partially dishonest writer a reason to keep going for the brass. À la prochaine mes amis!