Thursday, October 4, 2012

Friends and the Eight Senses

Note to the reader: If you find these updates to be silly and superfluous, please let me know and I will not send anymore.  Writing is serving as an enormous relief for me as I transition into my life here but of course, just as my addiction to red wine and Oreo cookies, this hobby can be discreetly stored away in the closet.

Friends and the 8 Senses

When I am feeling a bit sad or melancholy, I tend to consume large amounts of noodles. With butter, with cheese, with herbs and with an extremely ravenous appetite. Lately however, I am tempted by neither noodles nor any other carbohydrates that I frequently inject into my bloodstream for a quick sugar high of false happiness. Despite this lack of appetite I am not necessarily metamorphosing into a sleek-slim-and-sheek** Parisian.

On Friday however, I woke up and made a conscious decision to embrace my new home and explore my senses as they relate to the women I have met thus far. So while I am still quite lonely and do not have any friends yet, I have started to emerge from my self-imposed-6-inch-thick-tortoise-shell and meet people but I have only met a few people in our weeks here. So, if I recount the people I have met according to the senses they have stimulated, my impressions would be something like the following: 


A trip to the salon this Saturday was invigorating since a creative genius covered my 4-inch gray roots. Her work was tinged with a series of exuberantvoila-like-zis-oh-la-la and interspersed with a series of would-you-like-ze-cafe-o-maybe-ze-petite-apero? Yes, since the clock had struck 11:15 one was granted social permission to begin consuming alcohol. I opted for a strong cafe instead but let the record state that I was the exception in the salon. By the time she was finished with my hair, I noticed a number of fairly inebriated octogenarians who, despite the wine, managed to apply their lipstick correctly.  

I left the salon looking like a woman who was ten years younger than the woman who had entered. I was even able to ignore  - for a fleeting moment - the fact that the rest of me has been seriously neglected since leaving Asia. What is the state of my feet you ask? They have grown 3-inch deep calluses that would allow me to scurry up palm trees and collect coconuts. And what is the state of my hands? One can see that have recently been required to wash, scrub, iron, clean, cook and shake. I tried to give myself an emergency manicure but discovered that painting ones own nails and staying inside the lines (like a coloring book) is virtually impossible. 


Strangely silent. Murmurs. Everyone is terribly well behaved in this neighborhood. At times I have to bite my tongue for fear that I will endure an attack of oral-Turrets and run about in the middle of the road shouting profanities. This weekend was amusing since two men walked up and down the street early Sunday morning playing the accordion and trombone. They were loud, full VOLUME, invasive and out of place - it put me in a lovely mood and as I tapped my feet to the tune, Cedric giggled and clapped his hands from our perch on the balcony. At one point the men encouraged us to toss them coins but this seemed a bit demeaning, no? 

The next day we were invited to the home of a friend-of-a-friend and the couple was lovely yet restrained. And my son happened to be severely sleep-deprived that afternoon and felt inspired to use his lungs. I have a strong suspicion we will not be invited back.  


As a child were you ever forbidden from touching something, anything, or even everything? The warnings would emerge as guttural moans increasing in intensity and fervor - Do not touch the vase, it will break. Do not touch me, your fingers are dirty.

When invited to the home of another friend of a friend I sat in S's living room terrified to breathe (for fear that my germs might spread), to touch (for fear that I would secrete nasty oils from my fingertips) and to shift around (for fear that my vibrations would cause one of the many pieces of perfectly positioned pieces of art to fall from their perch). I had the sensation of reverting to my childhood when the list of do not dos was often terrifying. The texture of the couch was sensual, fabulous and while it was tempting I sat on my hands and refrained myself for fear of soiling the fabric. 
I avoided pouring myself a cup of tea for fear that I would spill it on the table. I delayed going to the bathroom until we reached a café two blocks away for fear of accidentally breaking the plumbing. I hesitated to touch her child in greeting for fear of breaking her fragile-toothpick-infant arm.

In terms of refraining myself, the same applies for the gorgeous-hunky-desperate-housewives-handy-man-from-Paraguay that comes by our house to fix things every so often. Ay, dios mio. 


Smelled like home. Like grandma's home. My new friend R is a goddess in the kitchen and my tastebuds were overwhelmed and for a moment I fell deeply in love. Andy and I were at her house for dinner on Saturday and we returned home purring like cats and tempted to rub our bellies, fingers hooked under our belts as homage to the Chinese men on the streets of Shanghai.    

At home however, we were accosted by the horrible and lingering smell of the natural herbs creams-bulbs-oils I am meant to massage-rub-and-pat into my bald spots whose periphery seems to grow by the minute. Perhaps a beret is in order. Or perhaps I should learn to bake, allowing the scents of butter-cinnamon-and-spice to meander through the halls of our happy home. Ha ha. That is an amusing suggestion.  


Lets return back to the topic of food since everything (life, friendship, status) is associated with food in Paris. On Friday I was invited to O's home for lunch. A friend from university, A, introduced us online and I was initially a bit worried since he owns nightclubs in NYC and tends to surround himself by women who sport false-breasts-lips-eyes-coupled-wtih-empty-brain-cavities-and-a-heightened-ability-to-find-rich-prey-in-nightclubs. You all know the type, the Russian models prowling the chic streets of NYC. Lady O is a family friend and the two families started vacationing together in St. Tropez when A and O were mere toddlers. The kids, ahem, even kissed under the pingpong table when they were six years old.

She is a lovely, borderline hippie yet bourgeoisie woman who lives in an entertaining and lively neighborhood. Her dining room table was overflowing with different platters of vegetables, meats, salads, cheeses. A cornucopia of delights. Walking (or waddling) back to my neighborhood I felt my infusion of energy and positivism to decrease, literally sapping out of my pores as I passed - one after the other - tight lipped ladies who click clacked in their patent leather pumps, smoothing out their cashmere sweater set lest they cling to their bosom and tantalize the neighborhood butcher. Going forward, I am going to wear a short skirt with a tight blouse that has not - oops - been fully buttoned and red shoes. Indeed, high heeled red shoes are key to causing scandal in this neighborhood.

I may even ask that Andy trail behind me with a camera, documenting all the women who are aghast as I pass en route. 


I was introduced to C shortly after our arrival through a close friend from Spain.  While my friend is lovely, her friend C seems to have consumed a few too many cups of special-kool-aid-mix. C has checked all the boxes in terms of her blossoming and prestigious career path, her delightful-coordinated-and-multi-lingual children, her sexy husband, and her jet-set travel and social schedule. At the same time she is absolutely and categorically exhausting to be around. One can see her begin to twitch when things are not perfect, one can sense the false smile when she proposes another way of doing something (e.g. pouring the tea), and one instinctively senses that she was sufficiently spanked as child.   

After an afternoon in the park with her and her children I felt as though someone had split me open, removed my insides, kicked me about, and then re-stuffed me with a different material. Cross-eyed, sweaty, and drained, I returned home, chattering wildly to myself. 


I sit confused and bewildered. The conversation was surreal and I felt as though a camera might emerge from behind the closet door to reveal that everything had been said in jest. I met K through S, a friend in NYC. Our kids are the same age and I invited her over for a late afternoon play date and apéro. During the course of our email exchange I asked whether she had any allergies or food preferences. A summary of her response was as follows: No bread, no dairy, no preservatives, no sugar, no red meat, and no processed foods. And things should be bio and natural. 

So I find myself in a conundrum - how does one makes bio-hummus or prepare a platter of natural charcuterie? And more importantly, this begs the question of why someone would opt for such meal choices? Perhaps I will toss aside my planned menu and serve a cup of kale-leek-and-tofu-juice? And how can someone married to a French man not eat bread - I was under the assumption that before a foreign woman was allowed to marry a French man she had to take a vow promising to provide bread-cheese-wine-and-many-children till death do us part?   


This one is debated as no singular mechanism has been found that allows people to perceive time.  Most people detect time when looking at someone since age invites a plethora of changes - wrinkles, baggy eyes, droopy knees, dimply bum. Experimental data has conclusively shown we have a startling accurate ability to start demonstrating signs of middle age at about, hmm, now. 

But then there are the blatant exceptions and it turns out that two of the women I have been introduced to in Paris are ridiculously-annoyingly-gorgeous-and-immune-to-aging. Why is it that this insecure-stout-aging woman (me) is quite suddenly surrounded by models? One of the women, K, was very humble when I asked what she did for a living but it turns out she is bloody famous! Her home is littered with magazine covers and photographs or her meeting every head of state in the world who, inclusive of the female ones, is standing at her side with a love sick expression plastered on their faces. 

Needless to say, I feel like a bit of a pork-stuffed-won-ton when standing by her side. 

End Note

So everyone, we are officially living in Paris. This was declared last week and not by the residency papers but rather by the sudden influx of sex spam to my telephone. I suppose this is a subtle Welcome to Paris message from the local mairie.   

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