Musings on Paris and Parisians

Bonjour to one and all this morning!  The sky is gray again, but it is that time of year.  Or as the green grocer on my


says, "C'est la temp" with a shrug.  If it rains, if it snows, if it is nice...that is his answer for the weather.  I love him.  He has this tiny little store which has the best apples and other fruits and is open until midnight.  He is Middle Eastern as is his elderly father who works during the day.  I have never seen him without his green army jacket on!  He is always friendly, unhurried,  has a word or two that I can understand and is patient with my childish french.

Speaking of neighbors, I have not seen Claude Montana this year, although the girls in the patisserie say he is still here and doing well.  I see the sweet homeless Italian man whom I wrote about last year.  He sits, with his new puppy,  right on my doorstep.  I always get my change ready before I even go down the stairs.  He is smart.  He is right by the patisserie/boulangerie and people can drop their change in his cup.  And he has that adorable little puppy.  I asked him where last year's dog was, but he did not understand me.  This puppy looks EXACTLY like last year's puppy!  My guess is that when last year's puppy went through puberty, he was off, looking for love.  Most of the homeless who are not addicts have dogs.  I think it is nice because they can take care and love each other.  My jaded landlord thinks it is a ruse to tug at people's heartstrings so they will give them more money. If so, it tugs on mine, that is for sure.

French people are a funny group. (I am sure they say the same about us.)  Not funny haha, because that they are not.  Oh sure, they say the occasional funny thing but it is rare.  They are a more serious lot and more proper.  For example, they are quiet and mind their own business.  Sometimes too often as I, a visitor, have had to assist two old men with white tipped canes find their way in the metro.  Everyone else just scurried by them.  And they do not move.  If you are walking toward them on the sidewalk, they will not move .  I think they would rather collide with you than move.  Also, on the sidewalk, they may stop to parle with a friend and  will stop dead in the middle, seemingly oblivious to all those who must go around them.  It does not matter if they are holding up a whole group.  In a store, (don't even get me started on my experience in the "French Best Buy" sort of place) a customer may take forever arguing, visiting, or looking through every battery made in the whole world, while the line behind her grows like a python.  She doesn't care and neither does the cashier.  There is NO sense of hurry. Not even in Starbucks. When the metro stops for repairs or for whatever reason I cannot understand, and it happens a lot, they are patient to wait.  No one gets mad, gets off, calls in to thier boss.  "What can we do?" That is their mindset.  I am freaking out, getting mad or nervous that I will be late, trying to act with a wisp of ennui like they do. I am breaking a sweat and trying to calm my racing heart because I know I might be late for school!  I am hysterical inside, thinking, why don't things work right here?!  No one seems to care!!!  But I act so sophisticated like they do, yet thank the Lord I get to change out of my sweaty clothes when I get to school!

Speaking of being hot, another thing  I notice here is the poor temperature regulation in buildings.  Perhaps that is because I am a woman of l'age certain but I am either freezing or roasting.  Here is an example... it is cold outside.  After all, it is December, non?  C'est le temp.  But when you go inside a restaurant, it is the degree of the core of the earth.  A happy medium would be nice.  One of my friends did the intensive basic in the summer and said it was sooo hot in the kitchen, she thought she would die.  But it is hot inside in the winter too.  I think part of it is because the buildings are so old, of course, but I just think they don't care if they are hot or cold! On the metro, it is tres tres crowded.  Sometimes it is so crowded that every corner of my body is pressed into someone.  So you can imagine the body heat, let alone the possible body odor.  Anyway, the French stay calm as cucumbers, dressed as if battling the toughest blizzard with their coats, heavy scarves wrapped around and around their necks, and perhaps a jaunty chapeau.  But me, I am having a heat stroke. Every inch of space I get, I strip off another article of clothing.  It is a good thing I am not too far from school.  Another few Metro stops and I might just arrive in my birthday suit.

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