“I could have a relapse in the middle of the night!”
“No, you couldn’t.”
“Why couldn’t I?”
“Because the middle of the night was about two hours ago.”
Well. Good morning. It’s 3:15 AM and I have still not been to bed. That is, I haven’t slept yet. I’ve been sitting in slash on my bed for the last…well, okay, all day. It’s a combination of waking up late, taking a nap, and having about a million thoughts and plans and to-do lists running through my head at any given time. And now I’m afraid I’ll never sleep, since I started Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe about half an hour ago. I just read the Paris chapter, and it’s hilariously familiar. Observe:
“The French, for instance, cannot get the hang of standing in line. They try and try, but it is beyond them. Wherever you go in Paris, you see orderly lines waiting at bus stops, but as soon as the bus pulls up, the line instantly disintegrates into something like a fire drill at a lunatic asylum as everyone scrambles to be the first aboard, quite unaware that this defeats the whole purpose of lining up.”
I actually noticed this yesterday (at least, I think it was yesterday). I took myself to the library for some new reading material (one of which, Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One took me about two hours this evening to finish). I had gotten off the train earlier than usually and walked a few extra blocks from Pont de l’Alma to my destination, past the Musée du Quai Branly (where there is currently an exhibit on MAORI, which is a great crossword word, and also a series of sculptures of bulls dancing on pianos) and the Tour Eiffel. This is part of my New Year’s Resolution, also known as Project Fight the Year Abroad Fat.
Anyway, it was pretty darn cold out, and as I am too vain about my curly locks to wear a hat, my ears and cheeks were good and numb. I did consider a hot chocolate, but then I thought it might undo the good work I had done up to that point in my day. So I decided to go back to the Marché de Noël, on the other side of the Eiffel Tower, for a hot cider (slightly more caloric than tea, but not even close to as caloric as chocolat chaud à l’ancienne). When I arrived at the stall where they were selling the cider (as well as freshly-fried churros and not-so-freshly-made crèpes), there were only a couple of people ahead of me…and yet I waited a solid five minutes to be served. I’m not sure if I was supposed to call out my order to the girl wielding the crèpe-making instrument, which was undoubtedly hot and pointy, or just wait for someone to notice me standing there. People kept arriving and sort of insinuating themselves in front of me, and I just didn’t quite have the cojones to do anything about it. I feel the same way getting on a busy train. I’d just as soon step back and let everybody else cram themselves onto the train cars, rather than push and claw my way through the rest of the people for a square of floor space only big enough for my left foot.
The hot cider was good, actually, and I felt very virtuous. At least until I bought Petits Écoliers from the vending machine at Auber on the way back from Théâtre de L’Athénée, where I saw my very first real French operetta, Terrasse’s La botte secrète. I think I understood a grand total of a third of what was said–just enough to infer the situation and to have a couple of good laughs. I almost didn’t get to see it, however, because I actually bought my ticket for Wednesday night. I had it written in my planner for Wednesday night, and yet I turned up at the theater on Thursday night. Luckily, the folks at the ticket booth were very kind and sort of quietly inserted me, for no extra charge, into the audience for last night, in the seat I had paid for: right in the middle of the first balcony, the best seat in the house.
The good news about being up this late (which may be a personal record for me) is that I will have no trouble staying awake till midnight to ring in 2012. Happy New Year’s Eve Day, blogosphere!