Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Raw Meat

I hated Paris the first time I visited. The second time occurred accidentally, just four weeks later on a night train from Rome.

My plan was to arrive in Paris in the morning and get on the next train to Bruges, but plans are usually a bad idea. The moment my train arrived in Paris, the conductor made the announcement that the transportation department was on strike for the next twenty-four hours (because workers fight for their rights in other countries); therefore, no trains would be coming in or out.

I was stranded. In Paris.

After setting up a night at a Best Western online, printing out the directions and map so that I could ask for help, then trudging through the sunny streets of Paris with my comically full backpack and flipping off the bastards who refused to help me when they recognized my terrible American accent tripping over their beautiful language, and yell/crying at a man at the American Express shop who HAD to help me, I found my bed for the night and promptly ate a $7 Toblerone from the mini bar.

Impressive sentence, eh?

The Toblerone would not be enough to satiate me, and I was in Paris, after all. I left the hotel, but not before I opened my window and hung my head out to look up and down the dirty streets, JUST LIKE THEY DO IN THE MOVIES.

I do not remember the name of the cafe, and even now, when I think about it, it seems too charming to have existed. When I entered and chose my table beside one of the servers in the back who was taking a break and eating, he, along with the other servers, all of whom were male (annnnnnnnnndattractive), took notice.

I was at the end of my journey. I had three days left (three crazy days), and it was probably obvious.

When the server beside me could no longer endure my furrowed brow as I pored over the menu, he cleared his throat, and I looked up.

"You should try the special, no?"

"What is the special?"

"I am having it, it is good."

(The dialogue may seem stilted, but you need to imagine me talking to a really hot guy in Paris. He was really hot.)

" it?"

He then tried to find the word for raw ground beef with the help of his colleagues. The special was raw ground beef, mashed potatoes, and something else I can't remember.

I respectfully, and charmingly, declined and settled, instead, on Tuna salad (which is not made with mayonnaise in France).

I forgot to bring my journal. The whole point was to sit in a cafe in Paris and write in my stupid diary, and I left it at the hotel. So, I asked a server if I could borrow a pen (because I forgot that too) and proceeded to write on my placemat:

Sitting in a cafe in Paris. Didn't intend to come back here, mais c'est la vie. I couldn't find a room online in Bruges. Tonight I am spending $96 to stay in a best western, and I get to take a bath. Feeling awkward sitting here alone across from an employee that speaks english. This cafe is run by cute boys. Expensive--maybe that's why. They tried to get me to order raw ground beef--what the guy across from me was eating. No. I sat in on a mass at Notre Dame tonight. The singing was beautiful. In French though (what the hell, Caroline). I wonder what is taking my salad so long. Should have brought my journal and a book--so as not to look lonely. I still hold that eating alone looks more pathetic than it actually is, and having something to read while eating alone looks less pathetic. Not enough people to watch without looking ridiculous. Where is my salad. I feel quite at peace--like I could sit in silence for a long time. Like I could close my eyes in the middle of a crowded street and not worry about anything. 

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