He Sings and Dances

He Sings and Dances

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Living in Paris, I’ve come to appreciate its
indigenous quality of life. It’s taken me five months, but when I
recently returned home to San Francisco for ten days, I quickly
realized that I have become quite spoiled by the Parisian lifestyle.

In
Paris, I enjoy daily privileges for a bargain price. I can fill myself
up with warm baguette “Pas très cuites” for a euro, sit on the sidewalk
sipping strong coffee with cream where, I rest assured I will not be
hurried by a grumpy waiter pining over lost tips….. three hours at 3.5
euros for a café crème, is well what, a little over a euro an hour? And
this includes the entertainment I get from the shows on the sidewalk,
like the man in front of Bar du Marché in the 80s black leather jacket
and the “Elle Model” baseball cap advertising newspapers for sale with
false headlines such as “Monica Lewinsky Embarks on Mission to Africa
Preaching ‘Safe Sex,’” or “George W’s Wife gives Birth to Litter of
Shihtzus.”

Sure, the scenery
is nice….not that I’ve actually been up to the top of Nôtre- Dame or
Sacré-Coeur, as my seven flights of stairs are climb enough for me, but
I’m told that you’ll find “million dollar views” for a three or five
euro entrance fee.

No, I
prefer to spend my time on foot exploring the heart of St-Germain-des-
Prés or the Marais, where, near the Pompidou–or the Pipe Building, as
I call it– one can buy a CD for four euros.

This
is my absolute favorite thing about Paris. I have literally tripled my
CD collection in five months. Throughout Paris, bookshops have stands
set up on their sidewalks where one can find recordings by Glenn
Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Edith Piaf, collections of Cuban
and Latin music, etc. There are always some less appealing choices,
such as “The Greatest Hits of Marilyn Monroe,” or Marlene Dietrich.

This week, I struck gold.

I
was wandering outside of the Pipe Building with my new friend, Jake.
Freaked out by the street performer on stilts who was dressed in full
pig costume, we wandered up the hill towards the futuristic café with
white chairs that look like flying saucers…

I’ve
known Jake for about 8 weeks. We e-mail daily, but I‘ve actually only
hung out with him once, as he lives in Chicago. We met at Coolin’s
Irish pub in the 6th through a friend of a friend. He was working on a
consulting job in Germany (he is so skilled they flew him in for a week
to take a meeting) and came to Paris for the weekend. He’s 5’11”, brown
hair, blue eyes. In his spare time he practices Yoga, cooks homemade
spaghetti sauce and travels as a photographer to underdeveloped
countries. Oh, and he sings. (crush)

Our
online relationship took a huge leap when last week he began IMing me.
Up until then, our friendship had been based solely on written witty
diatribes about our week’s work. Now, we were having virtual
conversations–and I was starting to like him more. Nightly, I repeated
my mantra, “I have a boyfriend, I have a boyfriend…” A cartoon-like
demon occupied my left shoulder; “Marc is a metro-sexual,” the angel
argued from my right, “Marc is sweet and wonderful.” Laura argued at
Starbucks, “Marc is 5,500 miles away!”

Four
days ago, the day of our first IM session, Jake asked me what I was
doing this weekend… “Having coffee with Laura (obviously),” I responded.

“Could you squeeze me in? I’m coming to Paris for a visit.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Oh, and is it okay if I stay with you?”

Hahahahaha….that’s funny. I hope Marc thinks this is as funny as I do.

Jake
arrived Saturday morning at 10 am. I didn’t have to help him lug his
Tumi hanging bag up my seven flights of stairs, as he would not be
staying with me…after all I’m a lady. A lady who checked us into a
hotel in the 6th for the weekend.

The
previous morning, in preparation for Jake’s arrival, I carried a giant
three- piece accordion cushion home from my editor’s, stepping in
multiple piles of dogmerde. Pushing the “futon” up my seven flights of
stairs I tripped over myself repeatedly, wearing a hole through the
right knee of the only pair of jeans that still fit. I arrived in my
studio to a ringing phone–a hotel in the 6th inviting me to stay for
two nights in order to write a review. Exhausted, I threw the futon
into the closet.

What was I
supposed to do? The hotel called me and asked me to do a review of
their property–they offered me Lauren Bacall’s suite for Pete’s sake!
Besides, a two-room suite would mean two places to sleep, much safer
than my one room studio with a twin bed and see-through sliding glass
bathroom door.

Saturday morning: 9:58 am

Jake
calls me as his train pulls out of the George V métro–I take one last
look in the mirror, grab the two bags of trash sitting by my door, down
the stairs, out the tall wood double doors and through the Saturday
morning market, where the perfume of colorful bouquets meets the stench
of fresh fish.

I halt my
speed-walking marathon across the street from the Porte Maillot, avenue
de Malakoff métro exit. My plan is to cross the street just as Jake
arrives at the top of the métro stairs–my speed combined with the
slight breeze will thus blow my hair back in a “runway supermodel” way.
I will then pause a few feet from him, remove my thick black-framed
movie star sunglasses, and then smile. But only after, overwhelmed by
my approaching presence, Jake drops his bags, locks his eyes with mine,
and is rendered speechless by my electric personality.

And
I’m sure this is how our meeting would have played, had I paid
attention to the traffic lights. Had the driver of the dark green mini
coop with the engine that popped not stuck his head out of the window
screaming profanities directed at me due to my carelessness.

When
Jake arrived at the top of the métro exit steps he was on the phone,
and it was not my flowing blond hair blowing in the wind that caught
his attention, forcing him to end the call, but the disturbed driver of
the beat-up coop threatening to break my sunglasses. Jake did drop his
bags, when he ran to the curb to make sure that I didn‘t end up with a
black eye. (My hero.)

I change
the subject by telling Jake the news of our hotel accommodations for
the weekend–I can tell he’s relieved that he doesn’t have to carry his
bags up my stairs…though when he loads his bags into the trunk of the
taxi and removes the sporty black zip-up jacket he had bought while
skiing in Vail the week before, I find myself staring at his tan arms
in his white undershirt–naturally defined, probably from lugging
heavy-duty photography equipment in Central America.

In
the taxi on the way to the hotel, Jake and I talk about our mutual
passion for almond butter and he wonders if I’m familiar with
pumpkin-seed butter. I have never heard of it, I tell him, but I do
enjoy carving pumpkins. Jake reaches into his carryon. He pulls out a
tinfoil wrapped package, he unwraps it slowly–carefully. I think it’s
supposed to be a sandwich, a pumpkin-seed-butter sandwich, but,
whatever it is, has lost all of its shape and become a deformed clump
of dough. He wants me to taste it…and I really like him, so how can I
refuse?

The green guck is warm
on the soft bread moist from the juice from the tomato slice. It
doesn’t taste good, but I smile and nod. I’m sure the pumpkin butter is
not so bad on its own, but this sandwhich was warm and gooey and
13 hours out of the refrigerator.

When
we check into the hotel Jake makes the hotel manager blush with his
perfect French, and our arrival is immediately followed by a
complimentary bottle of Champagne. The suite is unreal. Double doors
lead to an ivory canopy bed with silky sheets and—oh wow, no more
thinking about that bed. It’s time for a walk.

After
covering topics such as fake-bake tans in Los Angeles, the pros and
cons of owning a cat, and mechanical pencils vs. number twos we find
ourselves in front of the Pipe Building watching a street performer on
stilts wearing a pig costume who has obviously had one too many Red
Bulls. When the giant pig asks for volunteers from the audience, Jake
and I flee up the hill to a small open CD store.

As
we browse the “Four Euro!” section, Jake tells me about the a cappella
group he was in in college who performed parodies of Bette Midler songs
about college sex life. He sang bass. I convince him to sing me a song
but he stops when the pig on stilts comes up behind him adding snorts
and oinks to Jake’s a cappella rendition of the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t
It Be Nice.”

While Jake shoos
the giant pig man away, I move deeper into the CD shop in search of
better hiding…when, there he is, the man I’ve been in love with since
age three when I first saw The Easter Parade, flirting with me from a
CD album cover entitled, “Fred Astaire: He Sings and Dances.”

I buy the CD for four euros.

Back
in Lauren Bacall’s suite, while Jake sings bass in the shower, I slip
Fred into the CD player. First track: Kern and Field’s “A Fine
Romance.” I dance in front of the marble fireplace while changing into
my, going-out-dancing with a Chicago cutie wear, “A fine romance, with
no kisses–” Yet…


Kirsten
joins Bonjour Paris from Los Angeles, California where she recently
graduated from the University in Southern California with a  BFA
in Acting. Last year Last year she co-wrote the book and lyrics to a
new pop musical which expects to open in Los Angeles next spring. Two
years ago, while studying at a conservatory in London, Kirsten fell in
love with Paris and decided that she was destined to return for some
time. She’s thrilled to experience this dream come true.

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