30 Sep 2012

Smooching in Paris

Another late night, another pair of tired, drooping eyes sitting opposite a computer screen.  Yep, that's me in a nutshell.  Last night I experienced my first house-party in Paris, and I'm glad to say I made it out alive.  It was the 19th birthday of the guy I'm living with and he had about 30 friends around to celebrate till the wee hours of the morning.  I wasn't sure what gift to get him so I made my merry old way to the supermarket and found a bottle of Champers for just over a tenner.  It probably tasted rancid but I presumed that by the time he drank it, he wouldn't have known the difference between a €50 bottle and my cheapo version.  I mean, how many 19 year olds can really appreciate a good glass of Champagne anyway?  I know I can't, and I'm 20.

So last night was pretty entertaining.  I use the word entertaining on purpose, rather than incredible or amazing.  Why?  Well, all in all it was a very fun night, but a few things "went down'' which I shall recount.  Of course I shall try my best to protect the identity of anyone involved.  Emphasis on the word "try".

kiss kiss kissFirst off:  The whole kissing on two cheeks thing is starting to piss me off.  I don't even want to say how many people I was forced to kiss last night. You know how in the UK we'll ''judge'' someone on their handshake?  I mean, there's nothing like a limp handshake to ruin your day.  Likewise, you don't want all the blood in your hand squeezed into your elbows now, do you?  It's all about maintaining the right level of pressure and grip.  I don't want to feel like you're handing me a fish, but I also don't want a Chinese burn.  In France however, handshakes don't really happen.  Although I've had a few people, on realising that I'm English, who have insisted on throwing their right hand at me.  Perhaps to make me feel more at home?  But it just feels strange.  But back to kissing.  Last night I experienced a range of kissing techniques.  Some of them were so airy fairy that it was like the kisses just got lost in translation and never quite arrived.  Maybe that's their style, or maybe the person was repulsed by me.  Hoping it's the former.  Others practically slapped the side of your face with their cheek, while some almost drooled half way down your face.  I'm not sure whether there's an art to giving "la bise'' or not; are you actually supposed to kiss their cheek, or is it really much more of a cheek bash with a few added sound effects?  Beats me.  And apparently stubble is à la mode with 19 year old guys - if I wanted to make out with a porcupine, I'd let you know.  

And if we're going to mention technique, I might as well mention strategies.  Where exactly on the face should this kiss be placed?  Are we talking slap bang in the middle of the cheek, or perhaps a little closer to the mouth, just to be that bit more daring?  But then perhaps that's a little too cheeky for when you've only just met.  And then there are those kisses which are encroaching on an ear nibble, which is just plain nasty.  Which gets me thinking of those weirdly "romantic" gestures boys sometimes make which involve hair smelling (or in some cases "eating") because they drunkenly insist it tastes like strawberries.  I'd rather you consumed my bottle of Herbal Essences - my hair doesn't look or smell this great for you to salivate all over it!  

And then you get the tongue down throat, I want to rape your face type kisses.  Thankfully I didn't have to endure any of those last night but let's just say the party was home to quite a lot of PDA.  You know that slightly uncomfortable moment when you realise that the two people next to you are practically eating each other’s faces off and you've unconsciously been staring at them for the past 5 minutes?  You want to pretend you're disgusted, but frankly, it's pure entertainment and you're loving the spectacle.  And then you turn to your right and two people are going at it against a wall and all you can think of is ''oh DO get a room! But please, not on my luxury Egyptian cotton!''

Then you notice the guy in front of you on the dance floor is inching his way closer and closer towards you with his mouth hanging open, like a lion ready to pounce on a deer.  As much as the inside of your mouth looks tempting young chap, I'd rather lick a doorknob.  No offence…

And then you fall into bed at 3am when the party is still going strong because you remember that you do in fact have work on Sunday morning which requires a reasonable level of level-headedness.  You then realise that some partygoer has left a half-empty bottle of Kronenburg next to your bottle of deodorant which means they were probably having a drunken nosy around your room.  You frantically check your laptop is still alive and functioning and that someone didn’t hang it off the balcony as a practical joke.  But maybe that’s more of an English thing.  You then wake up at 4am to find a boy in the middle of your bed in between you and your friend who seems insistent on “joining in” on the fun.  A random Italian who cannot speak French and therefore cannot understand that you want him to leave.  One thing leads to another and you end up commissioning a troop of five men to heave him out of your bed.  Only in Paris!     

Watch this “personal” space.


28 Sep 2012

Passion in Paris

http://images.forbes.com/media/2010/08/24/0824_flirt-boundaries_390x220.jpgSo I've committed the typical faux-pas.  The lowly intern falls for the stud in her office.  How conventional.  He's not quite my boss, but he's definitely a lot more important than I am.  Although that's not a particularly mean feat. 

I'd hoped somewhere deep inside of me that he was still looking for ''The One''.  I'd told myself that the silver band on his ring finger was simply jewellery.  Perhaps even a purity ring.  So what if he's married and has kids?  I didn't see Kristen Stewart backing off.  Of course I'm kidding.  I don't pounce on what my paws don't own.  But that won't stop me forever admiring his beautiful face.  And that's not even mentioning his marvelous gait and manly facial hair which altogether make him look like a rugged God sent down from Mars.  *drools on keyboard*
And then you catch his eye once in the space of 3 hours and you make yourself believe that he's been staring at you for the past 20 minutes, trying desperately to hold your gaze for little more than is comfortable.  Just so you know that he's passionately and unequivocally in love with you.

You become obsessed with applying that extra lick of mascara to intensify each bat of the eyelash, and you're constantly checking your hair hasn't gone AWOL in the elevator mirror.  (Which, FYI, it usually has.)  Every moment of free time is spent painting your lips a darker shade of red to make you look that inch closer to kissable. And then every little bump in the corridor or awkward smile from desk to desk is scanned through your brain a million times before in some twisted part of your anatomy you believe for a second that he might feel the same way

And then suddenly you realise that there really only is one God and all this time you've been kidding yourself that he - this gorgeous human being who wears jeans like a tortoise wears its shell - could ever want more from you than to hand him something from the printer.

27 Sep 2012

Sassy in the Seventeenth

You know how they say a smile can get you places?  Well I think that’s true.  In some cases.

After a frustrating phone call with someone from T-Mobile who said it would take them 28 working days to send me an email with an access code to “unlock” my phone (for the price of £15) to use it with other networks, I decided I had two options.  1)  Buy a French phone.  2) Go to some dodgy phone-unlocking shop.  The former was a possibility but I knew that the cheapest rate would be on Amazon.fr – but this would take about 5 days.  5 days I don’t have.  The latter therefore seemed a lot more appealing.  But I live in the 6th arrondissement; the chic, sophisticated, fashionable arrondissement which is not home to semi-illicit places like this.  After some intensive googling, I decided to trundle over to the 17th arrondissement to hunt out Koto Mobiles - a shop which prides itself on its ability to unlock any phone, as well as selling a variety of cheap, sickly accessories to prettify your mobile.  Since when was phone-jazzling cool?  

The majority of the shops on the street were closed down, barred or graphitised.  Splendid.  Perfect hide-out for a Thursday afternoon.  I walked nervously into the shop, slightly worried that I might have entered a dope parlour, brothel, or that my purse would get stolen.  (Gotta love excessive stereotyping).  I immediately brought out both my phones and said “est-ce que vous pouvez debloquer mes telephones portables s’il vous plait?”  

To cut a long story short, I did some bartering and instead of paying 25, I paid 16.  I’d been told online that it would be 5 per phone (but turns out that’s only if you own a brick), so I felt it was only fair that I work some of my British charm into the equation to avoid excessive costs.

Bartering: Your Secret to Saving Money on the Things You Want or NeedBartering method (got this down to a fine art!)-: When it was time to pay I emptied the contents of my wallet and said in my sweetest, most angelic voice “I only have 17”.  He looked at me for a moment and then waved his hand, saying that was fine.  I grinned, unknowingly flicking my hair to exceptional effect (girl next door, say what?).  But when it came down to it, I actually only had 16.40.  I smiled at him innocently, tilted my head to the side and kept 100% eye contact.  He glared at me slightly, but I knew I’d won the battle.  Although he did call me “maligne” which I translated literally to mean “malign”, or “evil” (sob).  On closer inspection in a dictionary however, I realised it actually means “smart” or “cunning”.  Ahh, so he worked out that I was trying to manipulate him to get a better deal?  True that.  Language barriers are nothing; as I previously stated – it’s a smile which gets you places.

He then introduced himself and after asking for my name he said “ah, like Tony Montana?”  The only reason I know that Tony Montana is a fictional character from the 1983 film Scarface (#nerd), is because each day when I Google myself to catch up on the latest gossip (I’m practically famous you know?), the name Tony Montana has inevitably appeared on Google’s radar.  So I replied in the positive, adding “or like Hannah Montana”.  “Who do you prefer?” he asked.  In a freak on-the-spot decision-making process I went for the pop star.  *hides face*

But in a phone-hacking shop, all formalities are dropped.  Numbers are not exchanged on the corners of magazines or diagonally across napkins.  By placing my phone in his company, I was unknowingly giving him my digits.  Which is probably why I received a variety of texts from him upon leaving, commenting on how “charming” I am.  Man clearly has good taste.  I decided not to reply (being the grateful person that I am).  The things I have to do to avoid creeps in Paris…

Watch this space.


26 Sep 2012

The Rose Bakery

Secretly tucked into the very quaint Rue des Martyrs near St. Georges, Paris is the Rose Bakery.  I’m such a foodie and after hearing many great things about the place, my friend Ella and I decided to go there for a much-needed Brunch.  Yes, it’s a little on the expensive side, but they do have pancakes with maple syrup (need I say more?)  When we walked in, there was a mound of exotic salads on our right; amidst cakes of varying colours and flavours, and gigantic hunks of cheese which I just wanted to cradle (I’m already having cheese nightmares by this point).  Perfectly square home-made quiches with crusts that melt in your mouth; vibrant green haricots verts; rainbow-orange carrots, grated and dressed in lemon vinaigrette.  I even spied something which looked like Eton mess.  I felt like tiptoeing; as if I’d entered a magical food realm which could so easily be quelled by human existence.  At this point I wouldn't have been surprised to turn around and see an Oompa-loompa churning up a chocolate souffle.

http://hipparis.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/TartesRoseBakery2.JPGMen and women were ordering sumptuous amounts of the food spread out before them as a small man boxed them up neatly for them to take home to their doting families.  Waiters paraded from the kitchen hatchet with vast loaves of fresh bread and new salads ready to compete in flavour and display.  Around the back you could make yourself at home in the cosy little café with their rustic tables and chairs.  The waiters all smiled and spoke in English too; the fresh from the oven brown crusty bread was brought to the table on a wooden slab.  I decided to go for the home-made broccoli quiche with a plate of fresh veg and Ella went for the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.  I also ordered a glass of orange juice which was nothing short of electrifying.  It arrived, foaming at the top.  It was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, bursting with fresh orange pulp which tingled your lips.  For 6.50 it was no bargain, but I had entered orange-juice heaven.  It surpassed Tropicana a long time ago.

Ella’s latte arrived with a slice of green tea cake.  And yes, the cake was green.  Not a luminescent, sickly green, but a dusty forest green with a splattering of purple.  It was simply so beautiful; so exquisitely executed that I wanted to talk to it, to congratulate it.  

The café also served as an organic health store, promoting shelves of dark chocolate, wheat-free products, organic cereals.  I want to live here...

I left, 21 euros in debt.  But 21 worth spent.

Watch this space.


24 Sep 2012

Il Pleut à Paris

rain rain rainSo it’s raining cats and dogs in gay pareee.  I actually fear leaving the apartment, in fear of what it might do to my hair.  I did have an umbrella, but I foolishly left it in an umbrella stand in a café.  When I left it had stopped raining so I didn’t think to pick it up.  Grrr.  Not sure whether to invest in a big-ass umbrella for all my rain needs, or brave it like a trooper.  Rain, as you well know, often comes with a generous dosage of high-speed wind.  Last time I checked, little umbrellas (and even relatively big ones for that matter), were not designed to withstand heavy blasts of wind.  Many a time has an umbrella friend of mine aggressively flipped inside out.  In public too.  The audacity!  I’m contemplating bracing the weather in a shower-cap, but I’m a little too vain for that.  I mean…as much as I’m rocking the shower-cap look, I think it’s one of those “behind closed doors” wardrobe malfunctions.

The reason I’m desperate to leave the apartment is because it’s my day off and I don’t really want to be cooped up inside watching TV and getting cosy in my duvet, eating ice-cream from a tub with lots of toffee sauce and multi-coloured sprinkles.  Wait, let me rephrase.  That’s what I’d love to be doing, but it’s what I shouldn’t be doing (damn you conscience!)  This is a day for exploring Paris.  For ruining my gorgeous leather boots in a 4-inch puddle.  The day for frizzy hair, see-through white tops and damp jeans that chafe between your thighs.  You know all those wonderful things brought on by the rain?  I’m not fooled by those romantic movies where the guy and gal find themselves in the middle of a rainstorm and don’t try to run inside for shelter.  Rather, they start locking lips in the middle of the street with the rain pelting them on the backside, the girl’s mascara (not) running down her face (geeez, she’s wearing the waterproof stuff), and her gorgeous mane of hair which manages to stay KMid style.  That rain was totally photoshopped; I’m not fooled.

http://www.kids-health.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/girl-in-the-rain.jpgThe “stuff” I’m currently listening to aggressively flooding the streets of Paris is altogether a different matter.  The sort of rain which slides between cracks in the windows and before you know it your windowsill had become a haven of whirlpools.  
The one question I have now is: is there an app on my phone which I can install to locate someone in Paris to purchase me an umbrella, and bring it to my door?  Is that too much to ask? 

Watch this space.


21 Sep 2012

Money Must Be Funny

“La carte bleu” is a necessity in any shopper’s wallet.  Or a debit card as they refer to it in the UK.  I’m not sure if that’s because all debit cards are blue in France, or if it’s just a saying.  But currently I’m lacking in that department.  Sod’s law has it that my bank isn’t open at the weekend.  I mean, whoever made that rule up was in need of a little reformation.

Today I needed to pick up my debit card from the bank because I received a letter saying it had finally arrived! Hooray.  They obviously didn’t use the word finally in the letter, but after being in Paris for 3 whole weeks sans debit card, I was starting to get fed up with eating stale sandwiches filled with grated emmental and soggy tomatoes.  As tempting as that sounds.  Eating out of the bin was never really the backup plan…

I knew the bank closed at 17:15 but I didn’t leave the office until 16:40 as I was filling out forms at Human Resources (ironically, giving them my bank details).  The journey home takes anywhere between 35 and 45 minutes so I was slightly hedging my bets, but I was determined to satisfy the current emptiness of my wallet.  And being as good looking as I am, I knew for a smile I could win over any banker’s heart.  #sarcasm.  Nevertheless, I ran to the train (in the rain, I’ll have you know), slipped twice, stumbled onto the metro only to have my bag squished and my face almost sliced in two between the sliding doors.  I then ran like an absolute loony from the metro stop towards the bank, arriving at 17:15 on the dot, rang the doorbell (you can’t just “walk in”), and a man comes up to the door and shakes his head.  I put my hands together in prayer - begging, pleading, smiling, winking, miaowing…I even mouthed “PLEASE”, but again he shook his head.  I pretended to weep, but for all he knew it was just the rain smudging my mascara.  I looked like one of those lost, abandoned puppies left on the street begging for shelter.  Or the heroine out of a romantic drama who turns up at an imposing mansion after a 30 mile trek in the pouring rain only to get rejected by the presumptuous porter who is unaware that the love of her life is sitting at arm’s reach within the confines of this stately palace.  Except the love of my life in this ever so unromantic situation is played by “la carte bleu” in the starring role, and the stately palace is simply La Societe Generale.

He then proceeded to pull down the blind so I couldn’t see inside.  Was my beauty really that piercing that he couldn’t bear to look at me?

Coming to think of it, my lonely hearts ad should probably be: 

Money-less Monty must meet minted man to make Monty merry. 

Without a debit card this weekend, I have approximately 11 euros for splurging.  Guess I’ll be ordering a glass of your finest tap water then…

Watch this space.