she's writing a novel

a lot of her writing tends to be tongue-in-cheek. this is because she grew up in an evangelical tradition which was more concerned about where else she might be putting her tongue.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Viva La Insistence!

Part I.
On Monday night the Russian lover and I wandered around Center City, trying to decide where to eat for dinner. On the street we bumped into our usual waiter from the Creperie Cafe, the place we have brunch almost every Sunday. The cafe is stereotypically French, and so is the waiter.

He was out with a friend of his - also French. They were very trashed and very happy to see us. They insisted we accompany them on their search for an after-binge meal. We knew there was little chance that drunk, insistent Frenchmen would accept our deferral, so we followed them to Monk's (the Belgian beer and mussels joint).

They insisted on a bottle of wine, and when they saw the waitress pour a glass merely a quarter full, they waved her away and told her they would do it themselves. As soon as she was gone, they filled each glass as full as it would go until the bottle was empty.

We drank and they regaled us with stories. The waiter's father owns a beach house on Ibiza, because his father is rich. He quickly clarifies that it is his father who is rich, and not he ("I'm a waiter!" he laments, although he is really a student who waits tables). The downside of this wonderful house is that it is next door to the house owned by Liam Gallagher. Gallagher, they assert, is completely insane and physically violent. Once he walked up to their table in a restaurant and punched their friend in the face, apparently unprovoked. It's too bad about Oasis, they continue - they were brilliant, they did too much drugs, they sputtered out early. And now...instead of being the next Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher is nothing but a terrible, awful, frightening neighbor of theirs on Ibiza.

They try to light cigarettes, but the waitress tells us that we can't smoke at the tables. We can only smoke in the bar (the bar which is 15 feet away from our table). At this they shrug and put out their lights. They tell us that at least Philadelphia is a little better than New York when it comes to smoking, but it is still hard coming from France where everyone smokes everwhere. There they smoke in the trains, they tell us. And students smoke in class, where the professor smokes while he lectures. They allow that someone ought to draw the line on the actual bongs in class, though.

They continue to put back wine and tell us about their lives and thoughts as French guys in Philadelphia. They want to know where they can find a decent club, and we tell them "New York." They're dissapointed, so they ammend their question and ask where they can go to avoid "JER-zeee BEE-tchis." Jersey Beaches? "No-no-no. BEE-tchis with zee LEE-tle shirts, zee ugly shoes, zee bad hair...all looking like zee same." Ohhh, Jersey Bitches. Hmmm. We rattle off a few places with tolerable crowds. They tell us about the places they spin house music, and we say we’ll stop by. They invite us to their Bastille Day party-- an event for Philadelphia's young French underground, who've banded together in an effort to create a social scene. We promise to come, and satisfied they stagger out into the night.

Part II.
On Tuesday night, the Russian lover and I had a spat. I stormed out of the pub, and went for a fuming walk around the block. I was pissed as hell and stomping down the street in four inch heels and a little black dress, with an expression that dared men to comment on my passing form. Most of them were bright enough to discern that when a woman is clearly upset at one man, chances are high that she’s prepared to take it out on all of them. So I fumed unmolested, until an unperturbed fellow with a pleasant smile stopped me.

He must know who I am! Where I am going! What is my name! Where I will be and can he see me there! Can he call me?! I can barely process what is happening as he walks with me. His name is Sebastian! and he is from Paris! and I am lovely!

He can’t come with me now – he must return the video rentals.

But soon, soon, at 10:30pm tonight, he will call me! Then we will meet! Yes? We meet? He doesn’t relent until I nod and reassure and smile. Then he releases me to go on my way. Strangely weary from the encounter, I decide I have forgiven the Russian.

The operative words for Frenchmen are insistence and persistence. You will never out-insist a Frenchman on anything, and you will never out-persist in fleeing a Frenchman who is persisting in pursuing you.

La Insistence…THIS the French win.


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