15 October 2005

When size 42 is too small…

I’m going to try to reconstruct things a bit here, since I didn’t get a chance to write my blog for this day. But, it was a day full of adventure, so I must record it!

First off, I got my Carte Bleu today. In other words, I’ve got a credit card. Look out, stores of Paris!! OK, so it’s really more of a debit card, so it’s not like I have unlimited room to go crazy. But, since I’ve lost weight since I got here, I was in desperate need of some new clothes (or at least a belt to hold my pants up!)

Muriel to the rescue, again! She started off with finding out what was wrong with our internet provider by calling customer service on our behalf. It’s not worth explaining, but basically, we got screwed. In the long run, though, it’s for the best because the company we were going through was the most expensive option (unbeknownst to us). Muriel said that she’s going to call a different place for us on Monday and find us a better deal, so we should be reconnected in about a week or so.

More important, however, was that Muriel took us shopping! Without the benefit of malls, I’m at a bit of a loss on where to go and what to do. So, we started off in my arrondissement, where she showed me some of the best stores in terms of quality and price. (She was also kind enough to point out the extremely expensive stores so that I don’t go in by mistake!)

However, I must say that I am extremely displeased with how the sizes run around here. It’s hard enough to cope when you first go into double digits in the US (how I wish I had more thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the week in junior high that I was a size zero). But, to go from a size 10 or 12 to a size 42 is nothing short of traumatic! Muriel reassured me that the numbers really didn’t mean anything, and that like most stores in the US, the same size fits differently in each store. But, when I picked out several pairs of jeans in size 42 and they wouldn’t even go over my hips? Oh la la la la la la.

Another annoyance is that stores are not air conditioned. As I understand, Europeans love to make fun of our addiction to air conditioning (“They even need their elevators air conditioned!” laughed some Romanians that Colin came across in DC a few years ago). Well, call me a spoiled brat, but trying on clothes while you’re sweating SUCKS! It was so hot in those dressing rooms. I commented once to Muriel that if the stores really wanted to sell the sweaters they had out, they really needed to cool the place down. She laughed, but I think she laughed *at* me, not *with* me. Oh well. I guess you can take the American out of America, but not America out of the American.

After finding jeans and pants for myself and Colin, it was late enough that we were ready for dinner. Muriel and a friend were going to a concert, so we decided to eat in a restaurant close to the place they were going. Colin had been in that neighborhood and knew of a good Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, it appears that it has closed since he was last there because we never did find it! Instead, we ate at the Café de la Musique, which turned out to be excellent (not to mention expensive). I had a dish called “The Tiger that Cries” – sorry, it wasn’t actually tiger, but beef. Colin had a fish dish, and Muriel had some kind of chicken; all three were fantastic. I couldn’t help but think about how sad it is that Americans have such a problem with obesity, despite the fact that the food is total crap compared to France! Yes, McDonald’s is everywhere in the US and in France, but you can get more (and much better) food at a French café with less money than you would spend on a value meal here. Plus, if you’ve seen Super Size Me, why would you want to eat at McDonald’s ever again??

Anyway, after we parted ways, Colin and I headed into the metro to start our journey back home. As we were headed to our connection to the four line, we could hear a lot of shouting and commotion, and I asked Colin, “What is that?” He heard someone yelling in a megaphone and assumed that it was rappers. (In retrospect, I find that conjecture really funny.) As we got closer, I quickly became convinced that it was a fight, and started to get a bit nervous. Then, several members of transit system security came running up. At about the same time, Colin spotted the guy on the ground in handcuffs, and the police officer on top of him with his knee planted into the arrestee’s back. The guy yelling into the megaphone was actually another police officer, who was telling everyone to get out of the way. We realized later that the guy being arrested (as well as most of the mob standing around watching) was black, and all of the officers were white. Not that it was a racist arrest – but we think that the crowd was arguing with the officers because of the racial difference. Just a speculation, of course – I have no idea what anyone was saying. Mostly, all I could think about was the advice that’s generally posted on the consulate travel advisory pages: Americans should avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Needless to say, we got the heck out of there!

Fortunately, we made it home without further incident, though I was certainly glad to be out of the metro when we left it. Paris is a different city at night, but fortunately, our neighborhood doesn’t seem to have the night life that others do. I feel really safe out after dark in the 14th, especially when I’ve got Didge with me. Mostly, I see families with kids or elderly people, so I’m less likely to run into some kind of bust around the corner!


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