Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Je Suis Un Retard

At long, long last, I have found a keyboard in English. The keyboards in France are, strangely enough, not set up for people who type in English. This means that the typing class I took in high school does me no good. I am forced to hunt and peck like a moron. Actually, most everything in France is designed to make me feel like a moron. And I'm playing perfectly into their scheme.

They insist on writing the majority of their signs in French. There's the occasional "Sex Shop" or "Porno DVD", which is handy and all, but it's hardly all inclusive. In Paris, I could not read the operating hours of the Metro, so I figured it was a great idea to go for a late night beer way on the other side of town from our hostel. As we strolled leisurely to the platform to go back, French guys ran past us desperately. We figured maybe they were in training for the French relay team. Then one passed us on the way back to the platform and gave us a "C'est fini." and a shrug. So we had to hail a cab. New Yorkers, of course are aware of the difficulty of telling someone who doesn't speak English, "Drop me off at the corner and could you please roll down your window, as your body odor is making me ill." This is made even more difficult when you don't know where the hell you're supposed to be going.

Another fun mistake I made was in not realizing that the French train system is so efficient that they'll sometimes have two trains on the same track at the station; one goes in one direction and the other the other. So when our train from Bordeaux to Madrid was on Track 4, I assumed that the train I saw on Track 4 was ours. In fact, it was headed in the exact opposite direction, going very slowly. I don't know what the French word for "fuck-up" is, but I believe I may have heard it a good dozen times, accompanied by pitying stares, in the ticket office in Libourne, the tiny town where we ended up. I used to work in a nursing home. The way the conductor gently guided us to the train back to Bordeaux was exactly the way I used to take advanced Alzheimer's patients to the van for outings to the zoo.

And so we're back in Bordeaux. Which is lovely, by the way. As long as you're in the actual town and not fifteen miles out of it, where we stayed our first night here because I had stupidly booked us into a chain hotel off the freeway. Try navigating through late-night bus routes in French. We were damn lucky to have spotted the hotel as the bus passed it. We waved our arms like monkeys and squealed, "Ici! Ici! Si´l vous plait! Mon deu! Ici!"

Our second night here, forced though it was, was better. We figured out how to get around on the lovely tram system. It's convenient and fun, except for the one time when it was crowded and hellish. Again, New Yorkers, think of the 6 train at 5:oo on a Friday. Then subtract deodorant. I desperately wanted to disbelieve the cliches about the French. But this tram ride was like twenty minutes in a two-month-old litterbox. We were jammed in next to people who hadn't showered regularly since they were born. The guy who was crushed right up against me had apparently eaten ass for breakfast. The woman behind me appeared to be one desperate gasp away from a claustrophobic panic attack. I had to knock her unconscious to relieve her pain.

I do not, however, want to give the wrong impression. The French are wonderful, friendly, sexy people. Seriously, single men could do no better. Just bring some vapo-rub to block out the smell and go to town. And it's so cute how amused they are at the idiots who can't speak their language. In New York, we just spit at those who can't communicate. Here, they chuckle warmly, pat you on the head and give you a cookie.

I could live here. I really could. And if Kerry doesn't win in November, I believe I just might. That's all from France. With God's will and the help of some friendly Frenchmen, we'll be in Spain tomorrow. Pray for us. 'Cause, if I keep up with these fuck-ups, I very well might be wandering somewhere in Portugal, lost, broke and dumped by a wife who wants someone you say...moronique?