01 November 2005

Happy Toussaint! Er, wait…

Colin and I celebrated our first French holiday today, or more accurately, our first Catholic holiday. Today is All Saints’ Day, otherwise known here as Toussaint. By mistake, we thought today was the equivalent to Memorial Day in the US (it’s actually tomorrow, the day after Toussaint), so we headed to the Cimetière Montparnasse to pay our respects to Georges Auric. (In retrospect, I think we still would have gone today, since the libraries were closed for the holiday anyway.) There were tons of people at the cemetery, so it’s not like we committed a big party foul. The picture to the left shows the flower vendors outside the main gate of the cemetery. In case you can’t tell, chrysanthemums are the flower of choice for this occasion.

I’m not sure if wishing someone a “happy” All Saints’ Day is truly appropriate, given that it is more or less a day of remembrance. It’s probably not as tacky as wishing someone a Happy Yom Kippur (i.e. happy day of atonement), but we decided not to take our chances by sharing our well-intentioned wishes with the French.

Anyway, we found our way to M. Auric’s grave and left a little pot of purple mums at the foot of his stone. We stood there for a few moments quietly, since it seemed silly to walk for 20 minutes and just spend two seconds at our destination. Selfishly, we were hoping to find the widow Auric there, but no such luck. (She is still alive, but won’t consent to interviews with anyone. It’s quite frustrating for Auric historians, including Colin! He has written her and had letters forwarded by a mutual acquaintance, but no luck yet.)

On our way out, Colin remembered that he wanted to ask where Auric’s first wife, Nora, was buried. So, we went to the cemetery’s conservation to have someone look her up in the books. (You can go to any Paris cemetery to find out where someone is buried if they are in the city.) As luck would have it, she is buried at Montparnasse: in fact, Mme. Auric is in the same spot as M. Auric! We were very surprised to learn this. She died roughly a year before he did, so in theory, there should be a marker with her name. Now, however, only Georges Auric appears on the tomb. There is plenty of room for Nora’s name on the same stone, and yet there is absolutely no indication that she is in there with him. What the heck??

Thoroughly mystified, we decided to head back to the grave to make sure we didn’t miss any markings. In the meantime, we learned that you can borrow large watering cans from the cemetery to clean off graves, so we decided to spruce up the Aurics’ resting place a bit. Upon inspection, we found a number on the top side of the stone that indicates the number of the plot. It is dated 1982 – the year that Nora died – so that’s the only indication that someone was entombed there that year.

So, why is there no mention of Nora? She was a painter, so she conceivably has a little bit of celebrity status around Paris for her portraits. Plus, why wouldn’t she want her name on her grave? Colin and I can’t help but wonder if the widow Auric has something to do with this. Georges and Michelle Auric were married for less than a year when he died, so we have all kinds of theories about why he married someone so much younger than him. (Was she a gold digger? Did he want someone to protect his estate?) It’s a mystery, Scooby Doo!

By the time we finished at the cemetery, we were both starving. We headed for a nearby café to grab a couple of croque monsieurs and cokes. I actually ended up getting a salade niçoise instead, which was fantastic. The nice thing about salade niçoise is that there isn’t really any dressing on it, except for the oil they put on the slices of potato. I get a little tired of iceberg lettuce drowned in ranch! The salade is topped with tuna (forget about Star-Kist, this stuff was awesome!), tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, and anchovies. Colin opted for a croque madame, which is basically a ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg sunny side up. (There is always a TON of cheese on the top of the croque sandwiches, which is great. Amy likes cheese.)

You know, one of my favorite things about getting Coca-Cola in restaurants is that they bring it in a glass bottle. Then, they give you a glass and open the bottle for you. There is something really charming about the whole process. Plus, I haven’t seen glass bottles of soda since I was a little kid! (I distinctly remember being in my parents’ kitchen trying my best to open a bottle of Diet Pepsi once, which I promptly spilled all over myself and the floor the split-second that I got the cap off.) The picture to the right is actually from a different day than today, but as you can see, I am thoroughly pleased with my bottle of Coke!

We capped off our holiday celebration with a trip to Darty to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Try to contain your envy. (Our old vacuum was slightly more efficient than using a Dustbuster.) Unfortunately, it was only after we bought it that we realized that the buses were not running regular schedules today and as such, it would be faster to walk home. All I can say is that it’s good to be a girl because my knight in shining armor insisted on carrying it himself (and he didn’t even whine about it too much!)

As somewhat of a side note, I never really mentioned our tour of the Boulevard de Clichy last Friday. I wasn’t going to mention it, but then I realized that no one is ever going to believe that I lived in Paris for nearly a year without going up to gawk at the sex shops! (Kids, this is the part of the City of Light that the guidebooks and your parents won’t tell you about…) My main reason for heading up to the north part of town was actually to get a picture of the Moulin Rouge. (I took a picture last summer, but a pickpocket stole our camera in Montpellier before I got it downloaded.) Much to my disappointment, I did not run into Nicole Kidman or Ewan MacGregor while there, but I did get a good picture! (They starred in the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!, in case you didn’t get the reference.)

Anyway, Colin and I took a walk down the Boulevard o’ Sex and giggled like a couple of preteen school girls at everything. I hadn’t planned on taking pictures here, but when we came across the Supermarché Erotique (the Erotic Supermarket), I just couldn’t help myself. Going along with the theme, they actually have grocery store shopping carts for you to use! I didn’t find out if they packed your purchases in brown paper bags, though. Hope no one is too disappointed! (If you are, come visit and I’ll let you make the purchase.)

If I don’t lose my nerve tomorrow, I’m taking Didge to the vet to get his nails clipped. I don’t really want to go all the way up to the English-speaking vet’s office in the 6th, so I’m going to attempt to communicate in the little office around the corner from us. Surely it won’t be too hard to convey what I need, right? Right? Why are you laughing?

Colin is going absolutely nuts in the other room, so I can only assume that soccer is on. Apparently, France is up 2-1 over the Greeks right now. I could honestly care less! I find soccer really dull in comparison to football or basketball. Basically, all I see when I watch soccer is a bunch of people running around on the biggest possible field that they could find. “Ooh look, one person is close to the goal … oh wait, the goalie just kicked the ball 300 miles across the field, so we all have to run the other way now.” Man, I’ll take a lousy Mizzou football game over this any day! (By the way, I’m really TICKED that the chicken hawks won last weekend.)


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