Before the whole London bit of our Great Euro Tour 2013, Mr. Floozy and I were in Paris for a day. Weirdly, we flew into London and then took the Chunnel to Paris right after we landed. Somehow that worked out better price-wise. The lack of sleep from the time change and the exhaustion from traveling made everything take on a surreal quality. I get extremely loopy when I haven't slept and my memory of those events is cloudy. I think I remember having some really weird conversations with the nice French ladies who sat next to me on the train and offered me peanut M&M's. I remember vaguely talking about the movie Napoleon Dynamite. And maybe Utah pioneers. And they looked at me like, Whatever, Crazy American Lady. Here, have some more peanut M&M's.
(All through Paris I saw people eating peanut M&M's. What is with that?! It's like they were just discovered by Parisians and considered haute cuisine.)
Mr. Floozy was seated waaaaay back somewhere else on the Chunnel ride and could overhear snippets of our conversation, which was stilted because of the language barrier and weird because of, well, me. I am weird when lucid. Get me sleep-deprived and I will start seeing pink elephants. When I get weird, Mr. Floozy becomes my handler. He let's me know when I am over-sharing or mumbling or whatever. He helps me rein in my dork. Like Mike Birbiglia, I DON'T PICK UP ON SOCIAL CUES. Thankfully, the ladies were nice and always smiled and I am sure that somewhere in France a blog post is being written right now about how there was this weird American lady on the Chunnel who rambled on about ligers and bonnets.
Finally, after several hours of cheap snacks and no sleep we got to our hotel.
In Paris, France.
Here. Look. This was our window view.
I know! It looks like Paris! Sure, we were in Paris, but I didn't expect something so Parisy. It was like we were on a movie set or something.
Mr. Floozy and I took a biiiggg nap and then woke up and had an excellent dinner somewhere. And yes, you are supposed to 'power through' to avoid jet lag, but one of my friends from Belgium who travels overseas all the time (hi, Ellen!) told me that this works for some people, but not all people. If you are really tired, take a nap. You will still sleep through the night. And we did. We slept soundly in our wonderful, luxurious, Parisy Paris hotel room.
The next day I was on my own while Mr. Floozy went to business meetings. I had read on the hotel website that the Louvre was in walking distance. This was a lie. As I learned after about an hour of walking. I turned around and went to the Eiffel tower instead. I had to meet my husband in the afternoon for our train to Brussels and was running out of time. So, the Eiffel tower it was. It was cool and touristy. Nothing more or less than I expected. And despite all of the PICKPOCKETS ABOUND BEWARE! signs, I wasn't artfully dodgered once.
And I was only street-conned twice.
What! I didn't have my handler!
The first was a lady draped in peasant garb. She came at me with deliberation. 'You dropped this ring!' she said, waving a cheap, fake-gold ring at me. 'No, no! It isn't mine,' I assured her. She thrust it into my hands and said, 'Take it!' I held it for one second too long, though, because then she was demanding a reward. 'You give me money now! Is nice ring!' 'I don't want the ring,' I tried to explain. I knew this wasn't working and I was out of my depth. This lady was a pro. 'Here's a euro,' I said as I fished though my wallet as she watched. 'I can't buy a sandwich with that!' she exclaimed. 'Here, give me that $20.'
I gave her the American twenty dollar bill and she walked away. I now have a dumb ring bouncing around in my purse with the rest of the flotsam. And somehow I feel like she deserves that twenty bucks. She has a finely honed skill and I respect that.
The second time I was street-conned was by this attractive Indian man who stopped me and said he was an artist and 'liked my style.' Flattery works. Even totally bogus flattery. He asked me if he could draw my picture. Having just been conned, I was wary and determined to not be suckered again. 'I don't want to pay anything!' 'Did I ask you to pay me?' he calmly replied. Gah. He had not. Yes, I am a sucker. 'Fine.' I can't deal with confrontation, so I thought the quickest way out of this was to comply and get it over with. I followed him to a bench and he studied me as his pencil scratched across a paper.
He showed me the final results and I gave him two euros so that I could make my escape.
I have lost the artistic sketch he made of me, but I have redrawn its likeness to the best of my ability.
It looked something like this.