Congratulations! It’s a girl…born of the miracle of blogging. I’ve realized creating a blog parallels conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. Conception… that moment when an idea occurs to you that will be the nucleus or spark of your blog. Not quite as much fun as true conception, but to those of us obsessed with writing, it will do in a pinch! Pregnancy is that time when you write and rework, watch it grow and take shape, getting bigger and more complete with each passing moment. Tweaking lines here and there, surfing Goggle for just the right image to illustrate a point. Then, labor and delivery… POSTING DAY! Definitely a lot less painful than the real deal, but oh, just as exciting to see this little baby posted in all its final glory, just like your first glimpse of little Ashley or Bobby after all those hours of painful labor. “Look, that’s MY baby blog, the cutest, smartest one in all the nursery of blogville!”
If any of my readers have not yet discovered “stuff southern people like”, written by girloutofdixie I’m here to ‘hep’ you out. Check out this link to her very funny posts. How can you not love “Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit (and other colorful expressions)”? Exercise caution; her posts have been known to cause hot coffee to come spewing out of my nostrils.
Let’s return to Paris and what has now turned into THE CONTEST FROM HELL. Deborah, my roommate and competitor in this modeling contest to win the hearts and minds of The Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys, was a sunny, outrageously fun girl, and despite her great success and my utter failure, we got along famously and had lots of laughs. As often as possible we tried to rendezvous and have lunch together. Our life of crime started out innocently enough, as these things so often do.
One weekday we were having lunch in a bistro when the men at a neighboring table began flirting with us. WHAT, French men flirt? Mais non! Say it isn’t so! By the time our espressos arrived they had offered to buy our lunch if we would meet them for drinks after work. Okey dokey on the lunch buying thing, but as to drinks, not so much. Deborah had a fiancé in the film business back in LA, and I was now channeling my “woe is me, poor, poor, pitiful me” routine and hating all things and people Francophile. I’d even gone so far as to swear off French fries for the rest of my days, if God would just hear my pleas and get me out of this hell hole called Paris. We thanked these good little froggie men and bid them adieu, promising, but never intending, to meet them at the George V later for cocktails. We had progressed about a half a block, when we heard shouts of “Mademoiselles, wait, wait. You forgot to pay your check.” “Oh no, the gentlemen at the table next to ours were buying our lunch.” “Ok, so sorry to trouble you.” And off the waiter trotted, and our criminal career, short-lived as it would be, was born.
Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, wasn’t hanging out with Deborah and me. Every day, five days a week, for two weeks, we played out our little scam and it worked brilliantly and effortlessly. We would always select a table next to several men who were just being seated as well. We would engage them in conversation and some harmless flirting in front of our waiter/garcon, and very casually and slowly exit the bistro when we’d finished eating. We were careful to choose restaurants where we could sit near the entrance, without stairs or multi-levels to impede us, just in case. The crazy thing about this was that Deborah always had plenty of money to cover these meals, but my silly pride wouldn’t allow her to continuously pay for my food; clearly I preferred criminality over humility!
Until the eleventh and final day, the scenario never varied from that first escapade. Our waiter or a manager would always follow us when we left without paying our tab, and we would always inform them that the gentlemen at a certain table were paying our check. They bought this story every time, because they’d seen us engaged with the men at that table and it seemed totally plausible. The final Friday we did this, however, something didn’t go according to plan. I still to this day don’t know what alerted the restaurant or our waiter, but when we left without paying and were followed, the con didn’t fly and the boy confronting us immediately drew a whistle from his shirt and began blowing it with furious determination and yelling for the police.
With KK streaming behind me and snow boots pounding the pavement, Deborah and I flew into the nearest Metro entrance and jumped on a conveniently incoming train. Back in the day models toted around giant, cumbersome, leather portfolios that usually weighed at least 20 pounds. So there we were, weighed down by these heavy beasts of burden, breathing hard and laughing about our close call, when we saw two French policemen (gendarmes) hurrying towards us in the adjoining subway car. The next twenty minutes were a blur of running, dashing from one subway car into another heading in the opposite direction, leaving Metro stations, running a few blocks, and re-entering the subway yet again in an attempt to head off these two very determined Keystone cops.
Goodness, all this for a lousy $40 lunch! Eventually we shook them off, and believe me when I say my life of crime was well and truly finished! Chastened, Deborah and I vowed “No more free lunch”. I only had one more week left in Paris anyway, so it was finally OK to spend some of my closely guarded $200 on food.
With eight more days left on my commitment to the Paris venture, and no bookings in sight, I found my way to a pay phone and called my parents. I was sobbing as I begged them to send me a ticket home; I just couldn’t face another week of rejection and humiliation in this place, and goodness knows what horrible fate awaited me back in NY when Wilhelmina heard about this! My parents felt strongly about the ethics of fulfilling promises and honoring commitments, and gently declined to throw me a lifeline. They did offer to send me a one-way ticket from NYC to Texas after I returned from France. It was then suggested that when I finally returned to them AND my senses, and gave up this silly notion of modeling and New York, I could marry a nice young man on one of the adjoining farms and produce some nice little ferret-faced children. Yikes!
Then, on my last full weekend in France, we were all invited to Claude Francois’ beloved country home south of Paris.
It was called Dannemois, and probably would have been one of the great memories in my life, if I hadn’t been such a sobbing, driveling, emotional wreck. Deborah had flown off to London for the weekend to meet her fiancé, so I was on my own with no one who spoke English as a first language. I was exhausted at that point by translating every word from French into English, then back again in order to converse, and my heart just wasn’t in it anyway. Martine tried her best to cheer me up, but I was hell bent on being a sob sister for the entire weekend. Other than tears and woe and self-pity, there were only two things I remember about that Saturday and Sunday.
One was an odd ‘beauty’ ritual, whereby we were all sent out into the snow and freezing cold, then brought back inside to a huge sauna where we were slapped with eucalyptus branches. This was an attempt to make one’s skin glow, but it just made me cry harder. The other was that Martine informed me I had a full-day booking on Friday, which would be my final work day in Paris. With eyes averted, no one could would tell me who I would be working for, or what the shoot entailed. Thank goodness, or I might have committed hari kari right there in the sauna!