I am new to my ‘hood and when you’re new in Paris, it takes some time before the locals acknowledge your existence. Especially if you have an accent and they assume that you’re just another visitor who is staying in town for a month before heading back to the ranch.
I have learned some tricks, like informing the butcher that I have a Mr French who is genuinely French and an ex-rugby man and he really would not appreciate it if I told him that the butcher had talked me into a noble pheasant (50€) for my humble coq (12€) au vin. Or informing the wine merchant that despite my accent, I had enough common sense to know that you don’t use a Premier Cru Classé as a cooking wine.
At the cafés I sit at the bar and chat up the staff, sharing jokes and trying to be charming, so that they’ll remember me the next time I stop by. I was doing well at the café downstairs, having bonded with the owner over Les Landes, where we both spend our summer holidays. This morning the bar woman and I progressed from vacation chatter to weight issues and were laughing heartily as we bantered about this summer’s beach fashions while I completed a sudoku in Le Parisien newspaper. I was making a friend and I was starting to feel pretty cool when the owner stomped up from behind me, mumbling something about annoying patrons who hoard the papers to do games, as he swiped the broadsheet from under my pen!
I turned to look at him in utter shock. He saw my face and was immediately embarrassed (at least now I know he recognizes me), and started back pedaling, explaining that a patron on the terrasse wanted to actually read the paper and he’d return it in 3 minutes. He opened some People-like rag and shoved a crossword puzzle under my nose. Great, French crosswords for celebrity stalkers, just my kind of thing.
I threw my coins on the counter and stalked out of the café curious to see who had trumped me.
Gerard Depardieu!!! There he was sitting on the terrasse of my local café with my newspaper perched on his table. He wasn’t even reading it!
“Hey, you’ve deprived me of my sudoku!” I scolded, laughingly.
He looked up, unaccustomed to being yelled at by strange women with a funny accent, then joined in my laughter, offering to let me finish my game.
“Non, non, enjoy” I replied, as I whipped out the iPhone and stole his soul. A theft for a theft, as Hammurabi would say.