Sunday, August 24, 2008

Since When Is It Ok to Have a Wolf as Pet?

A brief thought on pets in Paris. 

There are a lot of Jack Russell Terriers here. Strangely, there are also a lot of wolves being passed off as "dogs." As a resident of Paris, this concerns me. 

Just because you put a leash on that thing does not mean it is a dog. It is clearly a timber wolf that is ready to bite peoples' faces off at any moment. That thing belongs on the pages of the inappropriately dark Brothers Grimm fairytales that ruined my childhood; it does not belong on the streets of Paris. 

I am all for rescuing animals that need homes, but the WEREWOLF at the end of your leash does not need a home. It needs a forest and a deer to devour. 

Then again, if you have a wolf, maybe I should have one too. It's kind of like the SUV syndrome that swept the United States a while back. People thought they needed big cars to defend themselves against all the other big cars on the road. And before we knew it, every other housewife was driving an Escalade, and all the kids wanted this for Christmas:

Do we really want the Wolf War to escalate in the same way? Don't make me get a liger, people.   

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feeling Lucky? It Might Be Your Face

For the past three weeks, I have been feeling really lucky, and not just because I get to live in Paris and write blogs all day long. I know that I am lucky because a random guy on the street chased me down to say, “Excuse me. Do you know that you have a lucky face?”

Oh do I?

This was a few weeks ago. I had taken a long walk that took me from the Bastille, along the Seine, all the way to the Champs Elysées, where the Tour de France had just ended that afternoon. The Champs Elysées was still buzzing with people and shards of glass and the sweet smell of Carlos Sastre’s victory, so I ducked onto swanky Avenue Montaigne to avoid the madness.

But even greater madness awaited me! As I ambled down the street, gawking at very pretty clothes that I will never own, I was approached by a semi-sketchy guy. (This is a daily occurrence for me in Paris… no need for alarm…) But his status leapt from “semi” to “completely” sketchy when he told me I had a “lucky face.”

He was speaking English, but surely something had been lost in translation. It was the creepiest compliment (insult?) I had ever received—from a stranger at least. I think he wanted to keep chatting, but my fight-or-flight instincts were beginning to kick in and, being a coward by nature, I fled. Past Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, all the way to the Plaza Athenée… safe. Safe and lucky!

The other night, I was walking past the famed spot on Avenue Montaigne, and I recounted my story to a friend. Lo and behold, the exact same thing had happened to her in the exact same spot. Impossible! Paris only has room for one lucky face, and it’s mine!

But no. Apparently the world is crawling with lucky faces. Multiple Google searches have taught me that the “lucky face” line is as old as time itself. Apparently it’s some fortune-telling gimmick that dudes on the street use to lure you in so they can make predictions about your life and then ask you for money.

I’m not big on having my fortune told, but I am big on having “lucky” body parts. And I look forward to a lifetime of attributing all good luck to my face.

Person A: “Thank God we didn’t miss the plane.”
Me: “Why don’t you just thank my face?”

Person B: “It looks like the weather is going to clear up for Oliver’s wedding!”
Me: “Well then Oliver is forever indebted to my face.”

And so on and so forth… for the rest of my life.

Megan and I comparing lucky faces. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bourgie Smart Car Rebels Outside of Hipster Fête

It’s official. Hipsters are intent on world domination, and they are reproducing at a frighteningly rapid rate. It’s gotten to the point where I occasionally pass by a reflective surface only to realize that—to my horror—I am involuntarily dressing like one. The shame!

Spinning out from the epicenter of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hipster enclaves have emerged and are thriving in locales as diverse as Buenos Aires, Berlin, Montreal, and (my favorite) Providence, Rhode Island.

And Paris is no different. Here, many hipsters make their happy home in Belleville (in the 20th arrondissement), and it was there, stranded on a curb, that I ended up two Saturdays ago at 4am.

You might ask why, and what does this have to do with a Smart Car? Well, as you know, Smart Cars are tiny, cute, and environmentally-friendly. But they’re also opinionated and elitist. And when forced to drive to the wrong side of the Parisian “tracks,” so to speak, they act out. To contextualize, the Smart Car in question hails from the 16th arrondissement, (Paris’ Upper East Side, if you will).

To give you an idea of the class tensions at work, I will refer back to my favorite show (and moral barometer) Gossip Girl. If Gossip Girl were set in Paris, Serena van der Woodsen would live in the 16th, and Dan Humphrey would live in Belleville. In TV time, that’s a 30-second commute, but in real-time, these neighborhoods are on opposite sides of Paris—both geographically and metaphorically speaking.

My friends and I were in Belleville to attend a party that, for all intents and purposes, made me feel like I actually was in Williamsburg (except with more rosé and a view of the Eiffel Tower). Who knew that American Apparel and black skinny jeans would ultimately become the unofficial uniform for (slightly) alternative youth throughout the world?

Anyway, when it came time to leave, we discovered that my friend’s Smart Car would not start. At first, we thought the problem was mechanical, but in retrospect, it was clearly socio-economic. She was pissed off about being parked on the fringe of society, and she was going to make us pay. After an hour of coaxing, she still would not move. When we realized she was smarter and more determined than we were, we taxied home.

The next day, when my friends went to retrieve her, she started instantly. Her point proven, she high-tailed it back to the 16th for some foie gras and Sauternes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All the World's a Runway

Fashion is fun, but even more so, it’s funny. Exhibit A.

I’d like to say I never worry about what I’m wearing, but that would be a blatant lie, and I am not a liar. I worry a lot—it just doesn’t pay off.

On a good day, I imitate what my cool friends are wearing, and I end up looking OK. Not great, but acceptable enough to be let out of the house. On other occasions, when I become bold and do my own thing, then we begin to have problems.

In Paris, mercifully, there are plenty of stylish French girls around for me to emulate—though I doubt I’ll ever really get it right, as last week’s shopping incident confirms.

I was strolling around, “researching” some potential purchases when I came upon an H&M. Ahh, my old friend. These days, I’m generally trying to avoid anything that isn’t 100% cute, authentic, French, and preferably passed down from generations past, but sometimes I give in to the forces of global commerce. And my inner sociologist wanted to do a little compare-and-contrast exercise to see if H&M is the same here as it is in New York.

I was delighted to find that, in Paris, H&M is in fact quite different. Once inside, I was instantly drawn towards a section of drab-colored, confusing, shapeless dresses. Très French! I’ve noticed there is a marked difference between the shape of clothes in Paris and the shape of clothes in New York. Here, things are looser, more billowy, more open-to-interpretation. Read: Parisian girls are less slutty and more creative. In terms of cultural It-girls, think Lou Doillon vs. Lindsay Lohan.

So I was mesmerized by this section of amorphous dresses that seemed to say “Wear me with Ray-Bans and a scowl.” 20 minutes later, having tried on a few, I realized that there was something decidedly off about these clothes. Not even my favorite belt—“winged glory”—would be able to make sense of this situation, and that’s always a bad sign. Is it possible that even these dresses knew I was American and, therefore, unworthy of wearing them?

And it was at that moment that I realized I was shopping in the maternity section. To be more specific, I was in the “Futur Maman” section. Yes, I had been ogling over-sized, prenatal muumuus, imagining myself strutting the streets of Paris.

Sometimes I amaze myself. But to be fair, since when does H&M have a maternity section? Seriously, come on. When you’re pregnant, are you still scrambling around trying to find cheap knock-offs of up-to-the-second trends? Apparently in France, yes.

No wonder W wants to hire me... or not.


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