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Sunday, May 08, 2005

dress me in leather, and sell me to the italians

It was early when I set out yesterday, full of croissant and a baguette smothered in butter and honey.

I jumped on the metro, eager to be one of the first at the flea market. I was returning to the market I'd been the day before, after realizing I wouldn't find shoes at their prices anywhere else.

Within minutes a dark haired French man was pulling a pair of leather boots onto my feet. When I told him I would think about it, he grabbed my arm. We bargained with each other. Once again, I said I'd think about it. He grabbed my arm again, said he really needed to make this sale, and lowered the price even more. When I had him down from 75€ to 50€ I knew I had better take them. And I really didn't want him to physically rip my arm off. I'm not good with blood. So after five minutes at the market, I left with a pair of genuine leather black boots, a steal for 50€, and jumped back on the metro.

When I set off for Notre Dame, I had another experience with leather.

A sharp rental car pulled over at my side, and a well dressed Italian in a suit and designer sunglasses called out to me. From the map in his hand I assumed he wanted directions.

He told me that I was beautiful, and that he had an offer to make me. Oh god, I thought, I'm a French prostitute. On the map he showed me an exhibition place of some sort that he had just been for a fashion affair. He had four styles of leather jackets, each worth thousands, which he shozed me pictures of in his portfolio. He said that because I was beautiful he wanted me to have all four.

"Look, I have nothing to give you," and I meant nothing.
"All I want is a kiss," he said, and then pointed a large black plastic bag in the back, "Do you wish to see the models?"
"I don't kiss strangers," I replied.
"It's just a kiss, these jackets are worth thousands. Look, I'm harmless," he said as he pulled off his sunglasses to reveal gentle eyes.
"A kiss means something to me. That's not my style."

I wished him a good day and walked on. I have no idea what his true intentions were, or how far he was stretching the truth, but I felt as my naievity was being tested. How low will Gill go for sweet Italian leather?

Notre Dame was stunning, the epitome of Gothic architecture. I was struck by the jamb statues, the figures that surround the doors, reminding me of my studies in art history.

After suffocating on tourists, I decided to go outside of my guide book. I wandered aimlessly, and came across a parade of uniformed men on horses, the first 40 of them playing instruments. I kept walking, and eventually came across a market. People pushed and shoved, while the market men yelled out loud, stacks of produce, giant blocks of cheese, and rows of baguettes filling the scene.

I bought fruit from a man who called me the judge, "le juge", by the way I inspected each apple and pear. He went off on the nutritional values of fruit, and said "Aurevoire princesse" as I left smiling.

I kept walking, past a group of winos, each with a bottle quickly running low, even though it was two in the afternoon.

For dinner I found myself in a restaurant with red lighting. The owner of the restaurant spoke as if he'd started work with a few glasses of wine, his eyes coated and words slightly slurred. He asked where my boyfriend was, and made faces at me everytime he passed my table.

For dessert I saw a film on the Champs Elysées. It was impressive, charming actors, real emotion, and believable scenarios. The jokes and dialogue were fiercely clever, and I beamed to find how well I understood them. Throughout the movie I studied the French culture, the way the families interacted, and the secret to being a French woman.

This morning began with an almond croissant. Not warm, but just the right flakiness, the icing sugar melting on my tongue.

It's a big day, my last full day, and tonight I meet my famille Francaise.

La vie est belle.


Blogger Lucy said...

gill you are more than amazing
i love you!
you are me


12:13 AM  
Blogger dbry said...

Good luck with your family tomorrow! I know it will go great! xoxo!

3:39 AM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Mon Dieu,

You have the world at your feet. Stay away from those Italians... and have a wonderful evening... I'm sure your French family will love you but not as much as I do. Bon voyage to Castelnau de Montmiral. The sleepy little town will feel tame compared to Paris.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Gill -
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to give you a proper goodbye. Let's just say that on my last night I most likely would have done something foolish had I come up to your room, considering the state I was in.
Regardless, I want you to know that I miss you, and I hope you're having the time of your life. It sounds like you are, and I'm envious of the fact that you're in Europe and I am not. Ironically, my mother is going to Europe in a few days for five weeks. After reading this blog, I'm upset to say that most of her time will be spent in Italy. Watch out mommy.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Just Another Dick said...

So from what I have understood so far, Gill is loved international just as she is in Canada... Please don't make the entire world fall for you, that will only end in toruble!

Gill a real "femme fatale"

10:38 PM  

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