Vocab Friday: The Crazy Edition

Yes, that is a Sephora box you see there. Of course I still hate them, but it just so happens that they’re the only people who carry my most favorite shampoo, so I have to cross the picket line every now and then in the name of good hair.

Good hair that I almost lost today in the midst of mid-day Parisian traffic, because wouldn’t you know it, the crazy continues! This time on two wheels!

See, rather than wait 15 minutes with my bookbag and shopping bag and Sephora box for the bus, I decided to haul it on over to the Velib station and rent a bike. Really, why waste a perfectly beautiful day ensconced in the safe confines of a bus when for just 1 euro I could be cruising on a public rental bike through the streets of Paris? Without a helmet?

So after tipping over twice, I gained control of my bike and sped off. In the wrong direction. Faced with an impenetrable roundabout/intersection, I pedaled down a narrow side street, only to be confronted by angry delivery trucks and shouting pedestrians.

Sweating and swearing I finally popped out on the Champs-Elysees. You know, that 6 lane death trap of lawless french drivers. Oh boy. With a white-knuckle grip on the handlebars I took a deep breath and swerved into the flow of traffic. Just picture it: Me on an overweight beach cruiser, sporting baby blue fake Raybans, pedaling furiously between taxis and frantically ringing my bike bell. SSSSPRRRIIIIIIIIING!

Which finally leads me to today’s vocab. Because reading that story probably made you think, sweet geezus she is nuts. Well, if you were French, you might ask instead:

Tu as fumé le moquette?!

Which means literally, Did you smoke the carpet? or in essence, What kinda crack have you been hitting?

My answer: the pain au raisins and champagne kind.

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Lost and found.

Some of you might recall the crime wave that hit (me specifically) back in January. During that hellish week a 4 foot tall pickpocket absconded with my wallet, used my bank card to purchase metro tickets and was never to be seen again.

Or so I thought. I had long ago cancelled all of my credit cards and ordered a new driver’s license when an interesting letter appeared in the mail. It was from the Prefecture de Police. It made me slightly nervous, since, you know, I had that little misunderstanding at Sephora. But alas, it wasn’t a warrant for my arrest (which probably would have made for a much more interesting blog post). No, it was a letter saying that the police had found my wallet.

Glory be! My fabulous yellow patent leather portfeuille was in safe hands once again! And for the low low price of 10 euros. I could get it back. Needless to say, I high-tailed it over to the police station, practicing my vocabulary on the way. I wasn’t sure who I’d be talking to, or what I’d have to explain. I assumed it wasn’t every day that someone got their wallet back from a thieving gypsy child.

I arrived at what might be the most well-organized operation in France. It was a room similar to the DMV, with a woman handing you a ticket as you entered. When my number was called, I went to the window, handed over my letter and ID, and waited for my item to be retrieved. They were pumping people through the lines with a speed and efficiency I have yet to experience anywhere in the vicinity of Paris. They must have to deal with a lot of stolen stuff.

Indeed, while waiting, at least 5 other people recouped their wallets. One man got back a basketball. Another beamed as he inexplicably collected a plastic bag of what looked like pistachios. This made me giggle but also feel slightly incensed at the brazen tactics of Paris pickpockets. Pilfering a man’s snackfood? HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?

It was then I realized that some of these items weren’t stolen – simply lost. Left on the metro. Dropped on the bus. Et cetera. I started to wonder if maybe that petit pickpocket was a figment of my imagination. Is it possible that I simply lost my wallet in the street somewhere? Left it on the counter at the boulangerie?

Nah. I’ll stick with my original story. I’ll need the street cred for when Sephora finally decides to pursue those shoplifting charges.

The mean streets of Paris.

Sale season in ParisLast week Paris was a bitterly cold and unwelcoming place. But I didn’t let that slow me down, no sir! It’s SOLDES season! It was my expatriated duty to brave the mean streets for the annual January sales, because hey, they’re a cultural tradition. And indeed, I was happily elbowing my way through the deal-hunting crowds, right until I stepped into Sephora.

Maybe I was high on the fumes of French consumerism, because I swore I’d never return to that international beauty emporium after one of their perfume sprayers verbally assaulted me during a pre-Christmas visit (another story darlings, for another time). But I forged ahead, in desperate need of mascara. While there, I opened a pot of concealer (that was already open, dammit!) and was subsequently accused of trying to steal it. I think. I know there was definitely angry French being hurled in my direction, and I was forced to buy the stupid pre-opened makeup. But for all I know, they could have just been exceptionally horrified by the bags under my eyes. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m currently listed as public enemy #1 with the French police.

Which is funny, because the next day my freshly concealed under-eye circles and I were the victims of a real crime. Yes, despite many hysterical warnings about “theiving gypsies,” I got pick-pocketed on the metro. By a 7 year old. He pushed into me on a crowded train, looking panicked. I was about to ask him if he was lost, and then I was going to say wait-uh-minute you just took my wallet didn’t you, but by then of course it was too late, he was slipping out the doors just as they closed. It all happened in maybe 2.5 seconds.

Sans concealer!

I considered yelling for the police. But what was I going to say? Yes monsieur, a very small child in an orange puffy coat absconded with my wallet before I could even think of the word for thief in French.

Seriously. What kind of world do we live in where a kid can rob you blind right in front of your (baggy, but well covered) eyes?! I prefer American criminals thank you, they’re much more straightforward about their business.

Quel dommage. I am now wallet-less. Euro-less. DC Drivers license-less. I’m also deeply saddened knowing that poor little guy is being forced to rob people instead of getting any kind of a fair shot at life. So if I ever see him again, I’ve devised the perfect plan for retribution: First, I will get him off the streets. I will find him a loving and stable family to live with. I will make sure he’s enrolled in school.

Then for a little taste of some harsh American-style justice, he’ll be required to make all trips to Sephora for me and wait in line at the DMV for my new drivers license. And if that won’t turn someone off a life of crime, I don’t know what will.