Friday, April 29, 2005

Summer time, and the living is….sleazy

It’s coming up to a year since I’ve left Australia so I’ve only had one of each of the European seasons up til now. But one thing I did quickly learn is that the weather warms up, so does the blood of the would-be Parisien Casanovas. So it was with this knowledge in the forefront of my mind that I slipped on my mock wedding ring before heading out on an afternoon jaunt round the right bank and Notre Dame.
Though I know it's no-where near as bad as some places, a woman walking alone gets a lot of ‘bonjours’, smoochy sounds and general leering on a warm day in Paris.

So, wandering airily round the Seine, camera in hand, the word TOURIST was clearly visible on my forehead to the standard array of hawkers who were trying to liberate me from some of my money. I picked up a couple of ‘speak English you dummy!’ books for the boyfriend before returning back home to massage my temples after one too many smoochies, gypsys bearing postcards (I have no idea...), hordes of german school groups and multiple demands to paint my picture because I am so verreh be-yu-tee-full.

On another subject, teaching your native language to a foreigner can be an eye opener at times. I've recently been confounded by the discovery of groups of things called denominable nouns and indenominable nouns existing in singular and plural form, and those that can be both depending on the slant of your eyebrows and the lilt of your voice and irregular plurals (really? We have all that?)

Today was also Phase II Integration Procedure Day as the application for my social security number (supposedly made by my temp agency in September last year) has evidently vanished. So more tickets and queues and waiting rooms and stamps and assurances that things will shortly be arriving in the post (works hard for its living does my letterbox), but still, it got me out and about on my bike in the spring sunshine. Though it seems that crazy French motorists are not the only thing to beware of (and frankly that's already more than enough),cue one wasted beyond all forces of gravity woman who managed to veer off the sidewalk by a good 3 metres as if summoned by the magnetic forces of my precognition (which played the entire scene out before she even smacked into the pole that sent her reeling into the oncoming traffic like a pinball). So after picking her off my handlebars, I advised her it might be better to keep to the footpath. There might not be a precognitive cyclist there to stop her ending up in the path of an oncoming bus next time. I feel confident my message got through to her.

5 comments:

ViVi said...

I've been accosted by gypsies with index cards as well, when a girlfriend from back home was visiting and we were wondering through the Latin Quarter. I said yes without thinking and she flipped her cards until she got to the English one, which explained that she had thirty brothers and sisters and her parents were killed and blah blah blah. It took quite a while to get away. I know that sounds very harsh and cold, but when there are gypsies on every corner, what are you supposed to do?

Nyx said...

If it's any consolation, it's always the same women and it's very likely nothing but a big old scam. But the face of the homeless and poor in a large city like Paris is confronting, and also confusing when you start seeing the same people giving the same spiel over a very long period of time. I like to give a little money to musicians, because they can make travelling on the metro just that bit more pleasant - but as sad and cynical as it is, I don't know the real story behind every beggars plight, so I tend to keep my wallet to myself.

wandering lizard said...

Ah, the inevitable foray into proper english lessons. I've been drafted into that by someone here preparing for the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) before applying to a PhD program in the US. She stumped me on the first question - when is it proper to use "talk" instead of "speak". For example, "I spoke to my boss" vs. "I talked to my boss". Similarly, when do you "talk/speak to", vs. "talk/speak with"? I'm told that there is a rule about this, and that it will probably appear on the TOEFL, but frankly, I have no clue. I said I'd talk to some friends about it.

Nyx said...

Or, alternatively, you could speak with them... ;)

wandering lizard said...

yes, or I could speak to them...