Mom, Meurice and Me

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Mom, Meurice and Me
Mike’s parents met in a hospital, she was his nurse. The Blackmans met on the street in San Francisco—they were married two weeks later—and Laura’s mom and dad met in a fight over the last wooden boat at the fountain in the Luxembourg gardens. My mom met my dad smuggling drugs into Spain.   With a history like my mom’s, naturally, I check her suitcase twice before we go on a trip. Considering that the last time I tried to enter the U.K. on the Eurostar, I was detained by two immigration officials, searched three times, and finally had a tracking device placed on my passport linked to a file in the computer that shows up each time my passport is scanned, I took extra care. Mom’s bag was checked, once for drugs, once for possible stolen goods and once for the hair dryer adapter. Though Mom went to Berkeley in the ‘60s, is a Democrat and a Buddhist, she doesn’t actually do drugs. Her worst offence is the half a glass of Merlot she has with dinner.   Mom came to London for a visit because I— homesick for San Francisco and sick of London—called and begged her to. She came to my rescue a week later. One night in my apartment in South Kensington proved to be enough for Mom, who was not impressed when I served her canned tomato soup and coffee from a box .The next morning, she and I arrived at Waterloo bound for Gare du Nord.   We were two hours early for our train. Two hours. I tried explaining to her that this is not necessary, but my mom used to own a travel business,—hence, as she puts it, I have no business arguing with her about travel arrangements. I taught her how to slide the new hi-tech electronic tickets into the slot and we were on our way. Or so I thought. That is, we were on our way until my Mom’s suitcase was scanned. I stood and watched in horror as my Mom was searched and all of the contents of our luggage poured onto a table and rummaged through by a skinny man with a thin red moustache and very dirty fingernails. He seemed to find a satanic pleasure in removing each and every article of clothing in the overstuffed bag, one at a time. I thought I might faint.   Mom is meticulous about folding. I don’t even bother packing my own suitcase anymore, because I know she will only repack it. Her left eye started to twitch when thin moustache got one of his dirty finger nails stuck in the fine weaving of her Lora Piana scarf. Some people say that my Mom looks like Catherine Deneuve; she did not at this particular moment. Having found no cocaine, Sticky Fingers began to place everything back in the suitcase, until Mom yanked it from his grasp and began her meticulous folding routine.   By the time Mom and I arrived in Paris, after receiving a cold latte minus the vanilla syrup we ordered; and realizing that there had been a serious faux pas with our seat bookings—that we were sitting in coach, behind an Indian family’s 10 year reunion—Mom wished she had packed some drugs in her sock rolls.   When we arrived at Gare du Nord, all was mended and we found our perfectly lovely driver who whisked us through the 30 members of the Indian family reunion and straight through the monumental Place de La Concorde to Le Meurice. (A very nice hotel, and one of the reasons traveling with my mom is so delightful.)   Yes, the chandeliers sparkled. Yes, we took tea and used Wifi for free while drinking Martinis in the low-lit bar. Yes, there were pictures of naked people up all over the hotel. And by pictures, I don’t mean age-old paintings of naked nymphs dancing around a fountain, but recent photographs of naked women with their naked bodies draped on famous sculptures in Paris museums. One picture was of a male and a female; they were intertwined on the floor of the African Museum and well…never mind. Mom, being a photographer, was fascinated by the perspective these photographs were taken from; I was fascinated that any person could pull their leg over their head and maintain the position long enough for a man wearing matching black denim to take their photograph.   Mom and I happened to meet Matching-Black Denim the next morning, when after our extravagant, 65-euro each breakfast of croissants and jam, we bumped into a writer I know, who happened to be having tea at the Meurice to interview the naked photographer, otherwise known as Matching-Black Denim, which he was indeed wearing when Mom introduced herself. The naked photographer led Mom around the bar, the entrance hall and all the way to the elevator bank describing the lighting and the different exposures he used in each one. He paused to comment on Mom’s serious Lyca camera hanging around her neck, which she tells me is just like the one Robert Capa used to capture the landing at Normandy.   Feeling nauseous while looking at the naked people after a breakfast of sweets, I decided to leave Mom to explore the pictures while I searched for a pair of boots to replace the ones stolen from the cloak room, last year at Laura’s company Christmas party. Yes. The time I was forced to dress up like an…
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