lundi, juillet 18, 2005

Le Bal des Pompiers / The Fireman's Ball

Now here is a French tradition I can really get into - The Annual Firemen's Ball.

The idea is simple. Each neighborhood's fire station opens their doors to the public on the 13th and 14th of July starting at 9PM and throws a humongous ball lasting til 5AM. DJ's are hired, lights are strung up, bars are set up, and firemen in each neighborhood gussy up in their uniforms for the local girls, serving them champagne and beer with a flirtatious smile. (Okay, minus the hats.)

Women talk about the Firemen's Ball with voices filled with hope, as in "So-and-so met her fireman at the Odéon Ball last year, and they're still together!" Parisian firemen are apparently the most sought-after, perhaps in part because it is the hardest brigade to get into, and the one that keeps their recruits in the best physical shape.

As a first hand witness, I can attest that the brave firemen of the 6th arrondissement and their champagne pouring skills are very well selected indeed.

I love the idea of a public service opening its doors and saying, come celebrate the National Holiday with us. Better yet, let me serve you alcohol in uniform! (Vive la France!)

Hell, let's get totally sloshed, dance to themes from Grease, Flashdance and Thriller, and while you're at it, get a load of my abs as I dance on top of the bar for you as a service to the community!

It's a nice little tradition that feels all historical and Old Europe-y. Think about it - a public ball in an enclosed courtyard, the eligible young men in uniform, the giggling girls - only the meddling mothers and Colin Firth were missing!

I wonder if there aren't a suspicious number of calls coming in for fires in young women's apartments on the 15th of July.....

mercredi, juillet 13, 2005


As you will see on the sidebar to the right, there is a link to a novel I started a while back. I abandoned it temporarily after discovering how much AOL was charging me. (Don't get me started on how much I hate them). So, long story short, I haven't gone on the site where the novel is hosted in quite a while. For some reason, today I did. I found in the comments section a message from an anonymous person who obviously knew me a long time ago. It got my imagination all fired up, and now I am absolutely determined to find the person who wrote it so I can turn off my head. Some references in there really got to me. I'll reproduce it here, in case that same anonymous person has somehow found my blog as well:

Anonymous said...

I believe this Baron is no good for you. You should be with me. I am a Prince and long to sweep you off your feet and take you to my country... the most beautiful country you could ever know. Come with me my love to the land of Laboritorio. We will drink fine wine and watch the sunsets from Laboritorio. Many years ago near a frozen lake on an Isthmus you said you'd come to Laboritorio. Will you join me now?

-M.S. Prince of Laboritorio
(if this makes sense to you, let me know I've found the right Pen-a-lope)

Penelope said...
To the Prince of Laboritorio,

You have the right Penelope.

Now how do I find you?

I'm dying here. Please put me out of my misery and reveal yourself. My head can't take this.

dimanche, juillet 10, 2005

The Color of Gold

"Gold is not a color!" Kate insisted, stomping her foot on the slightly muddy surface of the playground, "My father's a jeweller, and I should know."

I didn't really see what her father being a jeweller had to do with my answer of "gold" to the question of which crayon color was my favorite. I liked its different-ness, its metallic reflections, the way it would make a whole coloring book object shine when you pressed down hard enough, and filled up the princess' engagment ring or the prince's crown.

Kate said "I should know" to just about everything, and even though I had just recently met her, I was beginning to suspect that maybe she should, but that didn't mean she necessarily did. It was one of those adult phrases she liked to parrot, and inevitably it would stun most of our classmastes into silence for its brashness. No one dared respond that her father was not in fact a jeweller, but the very effeminate window dresser of a local jewelery shop. I suppose we must have sensed that do so would break some elementary school code of letting people have their illusions. There was Besty who thought she could fly, and would swoop around the halls and playground, her arms extended like a brave eagle. She would run and flap, and shout into the wind, and none of us was ever tempted to tell her that she was still on the ground. She also thought she was a character in a television show, and sometimes insisted on being called "Mrs. Marple." There was Bryon, who was obsessed with Spiderman, and would cover his notebooks, compositions and backpack with remarkably well drawn sketches of the superhero in different poses. No one pointed out to him that he was obssessed with a cartoon character. We avoided bursting each others' bubbles, there was an unspoken solidarity among the few white kids that it was hard enough to be a "honkey" without having your security blanket of an illusion being yanked from your little hands.

The day I met Kate was the first day of kindergarten, and I excitedly came home announcing I had made a "Chinese" friend. Petite and fragile, with a rather large head and ears that stuck out, Kate had worn her too short hair in pigtails tied so tight to the sides of her head that they actually pulled her eyes into slants.

In comparison, I was tall and blonde and outgoing, and I suppose I felt rather like I had stumbled upon a real live China doll I could carry around and protect, and play with until I got bored and left it sitting on a shelf somewhere in my room, remaining on the periphery of my conciousness, jogging a memory whenever I passed and caught its eyes.

To be continued....

mercredi, juillet 06, 2005

Ripped in Two

The other night, I fell asleep holding Stéphane's hand. I dreamt I was in the back of a car with the windows open, and a violent rainstorm was raging outside. It was night, and I was wearing the grey and black polka dotted silk scarf he had given me in Troyes to console me after getting a haircut I didn't like. I had burst into tears when the hairstylist had finished, thinking I looked too masculine, crushed at haven been given bangs without consent. Afterwards, he took me to the textile town's well-known outlet stores to buy his mother a Mother's Day present. Deciding against a colorful silk nightgown, we found an accessories store, where he saw me fingering the grey and black polka dots of the scarf. He bought it for me on the spot. I half wanted to tie it around my head in 1950's style to hide my hair, but decided to be brave instead. It was just hair, after all.

In the car in the dream, I had the scarf in my lap, and was once again fingering the polka dots, when suddenly, the wind picked up and the scarf was wrenched from my hands, flying out the open window and up into the stormy sky. I lunged for it, grabbing it with one hand and holding onto it with all my might, when there was a sudden clap of thunder and bolt of lightening, and the scarf ripped in two.

The next day, Stéphane told me he had seen his ex-girlfriend while I had been away in the States, and she had asked him to come back to her. A few days later, he did.

I haven't worn it since.