22 November 2005

Napoleon Complexes

I coaxed Colin away from his research long enough to visit a dead emperor this afternoon. Yes, at long last, I toured Les Invalides, which includes the final resting place of Napoleon himself. If nothing else, I'll say this for the guy: he sure knows how to go out in style! Of course, Colin and I couldn't help but note the irony of a crypt that measures 15 feet high [and 4 meters long, 2 meters wide] for a guy who was only about 5'6". (OK, so Wikipedia says that this wasn't short by French standards of his time, but I still say that it's pretty scrawny to warrant such a large box.) As it turns out, he's actually inside 5 separate caskets in there. I thought that seemed a bit excessive, but I guess I can't really talk until I conquer most of Europe. Heck, I'd settle for having Didge obey me the first time I give him a command.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, the late emperor has some amazing digs for his final resting place. He's under the gold dome of the church once used for war veterans (Les Invalides was a rest home of sorts for vets, which included a church among its amenities). The dome itself is spectacular. The exterior has 12 kilograms (26.4 pounds) of gold on it, and the interior is painted with extravagent murals that mix the divine (i.e. Jesus and the Virgin Mary) with the self-proclaimed divine (King Louis XIV). I'm pleased with the picture that I got of the interior of the dome, even though you can't really see details in the paintings. What was really surprising was the altar -- covered in dust! Since that picture didn't turn out, you'll have to take my word that there are four huge spiral pillars flanking the altar to this church that were literally loaded with dust. (You almost couldn't tell that the pillars were green in some spots.) You'd think that there would be enough money in the budget to get a ladder and a Swiffer, if nothing else.

We also toured the WWII museum, which was interesting albeit in desperate need of maintenance. (Lights kept going out and a lot of things appeared to be missing or broken.) Anyway, they had some cool artifacts, including a motorcycle that paratroopers used (it packed up into a portable container for the jump!) Crazy stuff. Unfortunately, we forgot to go looking for Napoleon's horse and dog, both of which are purported to be stuffed and mounted somewhere in the museum. Oh well, that sounded creepy anyway.

I once asked Colin if we could get Didge stuffed and mounted once he died, but we couldn't agree on which of his goofy poses to immortalize. Of course, I also once regretted not naming Didge "Napoleon" because I'm convinced that he has the complex of said dictator (he's quite a shorty, but thinks he rules all). Sorry, Didge, but you're not getting a 15-foot casket or a gold dome.

On our way back on the métro, Colin congratulated me for earning true Parisian status when another passenger gave me a dirty look. For the record, that guy deserved what I did to earn the look! When we were getting on the train, he shoved in front of me (between me and Colin) and cut me off so that he could board first. Then, as if that weren't enough, he stopped right in front of the closest available seat and blocked the entire aisle so that I couldn't get any further on to the train. (He wanted to make sure he got a seat -- never mind that there were plenty available if he just kept moving.) Sigh. I guess chivalry is dead after all.

OH -- even if you go all "women's lib" on me and say that the man isn't required to allow the woman to go first or to offer her the seat, all I can say is that it would have been an equally rude gesture to shove in front of a man in the same situation.

Since Colin was on the opposite side of Monsieur Rude, I pushed past in a not-so-gentle manner, electing to bump M. Rude's elbow instead of jamming a baby carriage into the stomach of a mother already on board. I heard him say, "Madame!" at me, but Colin had to tell me about the dirty look. As far as I'm concerned, he deserved having his precious little elbow bumped, and I'd do it again if I could! So there!


This blog entry is dedicated to the undisputed World's Ugliest Dog, Sam, who passed away last Friday. (I swear, this is a real dog, not something from a Stephen King movie.) For more details, here is a link from CNN.com (or click on the title of this blog posting). You can also check out his mom's blog for more pictures, if morbid curiosity gets the best of you. Rest in peace, ugly one!


At 22/11/05 21:07, Blogger megalitz said...

bonjour! i just stumbled upon your blog and it caught my interest, as i am very jealous of your 10 month stay in france! i visited many years ago, and am longing to go back. i was all over france, and i think my favorite place was nice. i will check back on your blog to read your updates on france! are americans okay with the riots over there? ive only heard a bit of whats going on. well, good luck and have fun!


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