Why? Aside from being unquestionably hot and a near-genius, it is because I DROVE A CAR IN THE CHARLES DE GAULLE ROUNDABOUT. You know, the one with the Arc de Triomphe in the middle? The one you say to yourself you will never drive through whenever you are in it as a passenger?
Yes, moi, little moi, drove through it for a total of twenty seconds of screaming and being guided by a Spanish friend who kept pointing wildly at the car in front of us saying, "Just follow him!"
Not only that, but I rented this hot little convertible for a cheap price on a SUNDAY in Paris without even knowing that it was hot or convertible. I know crap about cars, so when faced with two choices on the rental internet site, I chose the one named for the ancient Egyptian equivalent of a soul. See how clever I am?
All of this because I had received an invitation to a lunch and open house for a chateau outside of Paris. I had inquired about it for an upcoming financial seminar I am supposed to organize.
I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. It would have been nice to make it a romantic getaway, but lately I am about as good at romance as I am at reading maps.
So how else to get to a chateau an hour and a half away from Paris but a rental car and a good friend as co-pilot?
So Alice and I set off at 11 AM this morning, armed with maps, movie-star scarves and sunglasses, a blanket and picnic basics in case the whole thing sucked and we decided to escape to a nice little field somewhere.
It was a gorgeous day, and so were we in our little Ka, the top down and our scarves flapping arrestingly. The handsome invitation said the lunch started at noon, and never the first to arrive, we estimated if all went well, we would make it there by 1 PM. The rental car was due back in Montparnasse at the latest 5 PM or we would pay for it twice.
We took the wrong way a total of five times, almost ran out of gas once, and couldn't get the CD player to work.
But we made all sorts of other discoveries.
- If you take the wrong highway within thirty minutes of leaving the city, don't fret. An eclair break in the parking lot of a suburban shopping center does a world of good.
- If you think you should stop for gas or to pee, by all means, do. You will be much, much happier.
- If you end up waiting to do both, you will risk having to pee behind a building in front of the entire countryside while being entirely too conspicuous in a move-star get up of scarf and sunglasses. You will then risk being so flustered at almost running out of gas in the middle of nowhere that you cannot figure out how to take off the gas tank cap, which is located on the other side of the car from the pump, and will have to enter your bank card code twice because you have taken too long to yank the hose over to the driver's side, all while a line of ten cars of local villagers is waiting behind you.
- If you have endangered your life by pissing off local villagers in your fancy city car, get out the chocolates you brought along and dig in while tearing out of the parking lot as fast as you can. Go in any direction.
- Often times, detours for emergency gas can actually put you on the most direct route to your destination.
- If you arrive at 2:15 PM for lunch at a high-end chateau that wants your company's business, the valet will simply smile at you and show you the way.
- If there no place to sit at the lovely tables set out on the lawn around the tent with the delicious food and wine, a cat hair covered blanket that you so smartly brought with you makes do nicely on the grass.
- Freshly-picked strawberries and sweetened sour cream is a lovely accompaniment to a glass of Macon-Villages on a sunny Sunday in the country.
- You might discover that a seemingly unremarkable chateau is the place you vow to spend at least one terribly passionate weekend with someone very dear to you, if not use it for your wedding - if you ever get married again.
- Laying on a cat hair covered blanket in the sun in the countryside at 3:30 PM with a good friend and a glass of Macon-Villages are not ideal conditions to make you actually leave in time to get your rental car back to Montparnasse before 5 PM, and you probably won't even care.
- If your CD player doesn't work, and you're in a really cool convertible car with a good friend on a sunny day, you can belt out Edith Piaf songs while gesturing dramatically into the wind.
- ALWAYS stop at that gas station ahead to pee. Even if you don't have to yet. You will.
- If you are stuck in Paris traffic jams with the clock ticking away to paying double for your rental car, the last thing you want to think about is how much you really have to pee. And how much money you would pay just to be able to pee. Right then and there.
- If you turn in your rental car an hour late, but you both look too adorable with your scarves and sunburnt noses, the guy behind the desk won't even charge you. And will even let you use the employee bathroom.
- If you manage to drive in Paris and the countryside, get lost and find your way, almost run out of gas, but find a service station in the middle of nowhere, almost miss lunch but eat and drink well, get cool gift bags just for showing up, croon long-forgotten songs into the wind, and avoid paying for the rental car twice, you will feel on top of the world. After you pee.
- Accept random invitations in the mail that at first you think might be too much trouble. There could be a little magic lurking behind them.