An excerpt from a Work in Progress.
Sally’s Report: Rail workers on strike demand a 30% increase in wages, giving them 150% of the living wage. Negotiations will soon resolve.
“Paris is always a good idea,” she said, a cigarette between her middle and ring finger. She had blonde, cropped hair with short bangs. Her lips were wine-stained. Her glasses were yellow-rimmed, thick and artsy, though she couldn’t tell me the difference between Manet or Monet. She considered herself a cultural minx, but it was all an act.
“Paris is never a good idea,” I said.
She smiled. It’s the smile little foreigners have. It reeks of “Oh, aren’t you such a darling little French man…”
As if they knew more of France than those of us who were born here. They thought that we failed to see Parisian charm because we took it for granted, and only their tourist reflections could help us pull the wool from our cynical eyes to see la vie en rose.
These bitches came here with expectations—to gorge themselves on good wine, good food, and good romances with a brooding local man. We, the French men, were on their bucket list, like the Louvre or Versailles, or that selfie holding the Eiffel Tower in the palm of their hand. They felt themselves more worldly if they screwed a Frenchman of a particular breed.
I was here to oblige, but the tiresome conversations made me want to stick a fork in my leg. I’d serve these traveling girls their drinks, and take their tips. We don’t tip in France, but the foreigners can give me their money if they want. That’s what they’re here for anyway—to be pried away from the money that burned a hole in their silk-lined pockets.
Fortunately, the more bored I was, the more interested they were. Please, monsieur French man, act more nihilistic, sophisticated, beatnik and poetic. Tell me how life is shit… save me from the dreariness of my first world life. I would be their Jean-Paul Sartre, but screwably better looking.
It fed into their little girl fantasy of having that particular brand of sophistication. It was a little dream they had—discussing philosophy inside the café-bars in the shadow of the phallic monstrosity called the Eiffel Tower. I wish someone would blow up that eyesore so that it could stop being the symbol of my putrid city. The city of lights was really the city of bums, but tourists believed in this dream so much that they were blind to the reality of what this shit hole had become in the last century. Tourists have a great sense of denial. They paid a lot to come here and were going to get their money’s worth! Reality wasn’t allowed to get in the way. This determination is what Parisian tourism is built on.
They put on their blinders to the traffic, the crowds, the garbage that floated like tumbleweeds in our concrete desert.
The blonde quoting “Sabrina” knew every word of “La Vie en Rose”, but didn’t know that some of the bridges across the river Seine were made from the dismantled bricks of the Bastille.
“Consider it revolutionary recycling,” I told her.
“Bastille?” she said wide eyed, “Like the band?”
I kissed her before she could say something so stupid screwing her would make me feel like I was taking advantage of the mentally handicapped. I pulled off her Cellu-glasses, and hung them by the earpiece on the neckline of her shirt. It rested snugly between her breasts. I took my own glasses off and placed them in my pocket. I grabbed her hand and walked her home, to her hotel room, which I would share until the sated little lady would stretch in her Egyptian cotton sheets and fall asleep. Then I’d write a note, a fondly written farewell left on the night stand, before I let myself out into the morning light.