Great Parisian fireballs

09 May 2006

France: With intro in the style of any travel journalist's piece on France, and dedicated to Simon Howland:

One week ago I touched down SAS 798 (SAS stands for shit non-budget air service that charges for sandwiches) at the Charles de Gaulle and caught the RER to Gard Du Nord, surfacing from le metro to almost be knocked down by some rollerbladers as I headed to Emilia's petite apartament near Laumiere, which the next morning I discovered was close to a boulangerie, where I bought some croissant and quiche before heading to le Loire valley, to sample vin and see chatueaux.

The previous week has certainly been a gastronomique experience, with the emphasis most definitely on the 'gastro', which has laid me low for four days. Then my washing detergent gave me an entire upper body rash. I could have stayed in Borneo for the same symptoms at a cheaper price.

Going to the doctor was a fun experience. You enter this waiting room, and after an hour, if you weren't already sick, you can be pretty sure you will be in a few days. I diagnosed one women immediately with chicken pox, but it still took the doctor 20 minutes to do so –though I didn't want to hang around to find out if I was correct. When you take a seat in the waiting room you say 'bonjour' to everyone, like at an A.A. meeting "Hi I'm Michael and I'm bleeding from the ear and have pus behind my knee".

But now I'm on the road to recovery, the secret medicine is actually coca cola. Despite not drinking it for 14 years, that first mouthful was just as refreshing as the ads suggest.

Heeding docs advice that everything bad is good for my gut, i started on vodka tonics shortly after 10pm. Drinking at a dubious international bar (essentially where American college students come to reminisce about shared experiences at scouts), i soon began to get that familiar clammy feeling.

Excusing myself to the bathroom three metres from our table, i contemplated how to make this toilet trip as least embarrassing as possible. Obviously matches where the answer, so i whipped out a packet and began a frenzy of lighting. I then thought i could be even more effective if i dropped ,matches directly into the bowl.

It was going well, but then i heard a sound like ripping velcro and a flash of orange on my groin drew my gaze. Goddammit my pubes had caught fire and this wall of flame was steadily advancing up my tshirt. I won,t tell you how it ended, but i wont need to trim that side for quite a while.