I had just arrived in Paris three years ago when a screenwriter friend generously invited me to attend the first screening of his movie at the Opera Garnier. I panicked that I had nothing to wear. Figuring it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I thought why not go to Galeries Lafayette and splurge on an evening gown? Countless evening gowns later, which were either too small in the butt or too big in the chest, I finally asked the salesgirl for advice.
'Don't you have anything that would look good on someone who's Jennifer Lopez in the rear and Kate Moss in the top?'
She frowned. 'I'll see what I can find,' she said, throwing open the curtain to the dressing room and disappearing back into the store.
I finally settled on an extremely overpriced ruffled spaghetti strap top and horribly expensive silk pants. I had never spent that much on one outfit in my entire life. (But that was my first year in Paris. The real spending, it came later.) The hem of the silk pants came undone after wearing them only two times. Then I accidentally washed them. In my washing machine. I really should never buy expensive things - they deserve better homes.
The night of the film screening, I got a big kick out of the people watching. My friend had told me there would be lots of celebrities and other VIPs there, and I tried to guess who amongst the crowd was someone famous. Usually, the women who wear something totally kooky are either in fashion, the arts or rich enough to buy some of the horrors you see from the haute couture designers. One woman, whom I supposed was a VIP from the outfit she was wearing, had on those footie things they give you in shoe stores to make it easier to slip in your feet, only hers were violet and she was wearing them with gold strappy high heeled sandals and an evening gown. Confused? So was I. So much so that I didn't even notice what her dress looked like.
But I was also slightly concerned that the red wool cape I had chosen to wear over my horribly expensive black outfit would be out of place. Too flashy. Too old rich lady looking. I was terrified I would be the only person in red.
But la dee dah, I was at a private screening with real French movie stars! None of whom I recognized! Well that's not entirely true.
After the screening, there was a champagne reception. My friend, nervous about the reviews, downed two glasses in a row while listening with half an ear to the hollow assurances of his agent. I was looking around when I caught sight of someone I thought I recognized. He was obviously famous, surrounded by a group of people eagerly vying for his attention, his arm draped around a blonde half his age in an elaborate red evening gown and, to my surprise, a regular pony tail, complete with an everyday elastic band. (The I-don't-spend-time-on-my-hair look is very popular here.) He was only a few feet away and I was looking straight at him, trying to place who he was. I had a vague sense that he was a has-been singer, but then maybe I had seen him in a movie, too. I suppose I must have had an intense look on my face that made him think I wanted to get his attention because he began to stare back. Intensely. Desperate to place him, I poked my friend's arm.
"Who is that guy standing over there? Some cheesy singer, right? Or is he an actor?"
My friend discreetly looked over and turned back around to look at me incredulously before saying, 'That's Patrick Bruel!"
"Oooooh!! That explains it!" I replied, relieved to have put the name to the face. Patrick Bruel is indeed both a has-been singer, and nowadays, more an actor than anything else. A pretty darn good actor, too, I have to admit. In his musical heyday, though, his concerts were composed of masses teenage girls screaming "PAATRIIIIIIICK!!!!!" swooning and bursting into tears at his rather fluffy lyrics.
By this time, my friend was introducing me to some of his acquaintances, and I had my back turned towards Paaatriiiiiiick and his entourage, who were starting to head out. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him slip through the crowd behind me, and to my utter amazement, felt his hand cup my ass as he passed by. I nearly choked on my mouthful of champagne. My friend saw the expression on my face and asked if anything was wrong. I waited until I was sure the entourage was out of hearing distance and leaned in to whisper,
"I can't believe this, but Patrick Bruel just grabbed my ass!"
"You're kidding me!" my friend said.
"I swear!" I took another sip of champagne and looked moonily at my ass, "I'll never wash that cheek again. I will have it bronzed! PAATRIIIICK!!"
The next day at work, I couldn't help myself. I pranced around my office and stuck out my rear, saying,
"Do you wanna touch this? This right here? Cause last night, baby, Patrick Bruel sure did!!"
The story proved so popular that one day recently - three years after the fact, mind you - a colleague sent me the following email :
"Just heard Patrick Bruel is getting divorced.....You wouldn't have anything to do with that, would you?"