File Under: Shitty Mornings in Paris

Paris is a moving, breathing city where bad things can happen despite its impressive views and charming buildings. I’ve witnessed unconscious motorists lying un the ground after a motor scooter accident, i’ve had scam artists approach me and I’ve stepped in dog crap (just once.) These things, although troubling, don’t happen all that often and aren’t personal attacks so I don’t take them personally.

Until today.

I had just left my house on my way to class and was waiting at the crosswalk. A man crossed the street and asked me if I had a cigarette, passing me on my left. I initially shied away from him because I wasn’t expecting him or anyone to approach me so early in the morning. My next instinct was that he was a little too close to me and that, with my iphone in my right hand, he might be using this question as a pretense to mug me.

My face, known for giving my trouble as it can be a bit too expressive at time or deceptive, must have shown disgust. This dirty look  followed by a “Non” (No, i don’t have any cigarettes) must have been too much for the guy to handle. He grumbled something at me and then he struck me on my right arm. It was a cross between a punch and a slap. I haven’t been hit by a male stranger since 5th grade when the boy I rejected softly slapped my face.

I was not expecting that type of physical contact at all. Obviously this man was not in his right mind. I felt helpless as there were only two other girls nearby, both who seemed unwilling to help.

It goes to show the progress I made in the French language when I instinctively turned around and yelled in English ” What the FUCK?!”. I wanted to do or say more but realized it might have been unwise and unsafe to do so.

I turned away and continued walking. It killed me to pretend as though nothing happened and I hated feeling so helpless. Maybe in a different situation I would have done or said more, but I didn’t want to take a chance with this guy who seemed a bit dangerous.

I know it’s not Paris’ fault and this sort of event could happen anywhere but I can’t help but to feel that I really don’t like Paris today.

Breakfast at Le Bon Marché

Saturday morning I went out in search of an almond croissant. I had a specific patisserie in mind where  I had read some of the best almond croissants are sold. However, after that first bakery in my neighborhood was either sold out or stopped carrying all almond croissants, I then made a long journey to three other bakeries to realize les croissants aux amandes are maybe less popular than I expected. (Traditionally almond croissants were a way of salvaging “old” croissants that weren’t sold the day before. Is there an inverse relation between the inventory of almond croissants and the quality and popularity of that bakery’s croissants?)

But after crossing a few neighborhoods I finally gave up and settled on a pain au chocolat at the fourth patisserie. At least it was one of the patisseries that’s on my list of Parisian cafes, patisseries and restaurants, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. After paying for my pastry and exiting the bakery, I ran into a problem that often arises in Paris during lunch time, at least for me anyway,: I’ve bought my pastry à emporter (to-go), now where do I go to eat it?

Usually I choose to sit in a garden, on the steps of a museum or return to my apartment. There really isn’t any other option. But today I was too far from my apartment and it was raining. I thought about standing under the covered outdoor entrance at Le Bon Marche (think Barney’s NYC) but knew I would get stared down for devouring a croissant while standing and in public. Or worse, be told that I’m in the way (a.k.a. spoiling the facade of the building and ruining it’s elegance).The second best option was just to take cover under the store’s awning that stretched along all four sides of the building.

I began to walk slowly down the sidewalk, tearing pieces of of my pain au chocolat and admiring les vitrines (the store windows) where on display were some of the store’s products: black leather gloves, Chanel bags and shoes, jewelery, etc. It took me about a minute to realize that I had accidentally, (serendipitously) stumbled into a reenactment of the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. All I needed to complete the scene was a black dress, black gloves and a pearl necklace.

I do however need to figure out a way to sort out this “lunch dilema”. The most economic and time efficient lunches are those in which you can just pick something up (whether it’s a sandwich, something from the grocery store or, as I often do, choosing a pastry from one of the best patisseries in town) and eat it “at the office”. Except i have no office and my lunch hours usually falls in between when I have classes. If eating in museums were normal I would probably do that. But alas, I think that would not only warrant a few stares but would probably also solicite one or two quick blows from the guard’s whistle, as I’ve often witness happen when some tourist is violating an establishment’s rules.

There was a woman who I saw…

1) Il y avait une femme que j’ai vue tuer.

2) Il y avait une femme que j’ai vu tuer.

Both of these sentences are very similar but have completely different meanings. The verb voir  means to see and is is conjugated in the pass tense above and is written both as vu and vue, which translates as “saw”.  The verb voir is also considered a verb of perception, meaning that it is a verb that refers to one of the five senses (touch, taste, sight, sound and smell).

The rule is that a verb of perception (voir, or in this case vu) can be altered by the gender of the object ( in this case it’s “une femme” [a lady] which is a feminine noun) if the object (une femme) is both the one being perceived and also the actor (the doer, if you please) of the infinitive verb. The infinitive verb (a verb that has not been conjugated) is represented by tuer, which is the verb “to kill”.

Case 1: If la femme is both perceived, here meaning that she was seen, and she is also the actor of the infinitive verb tuer (to kill), the verb of perception is altered to show gender agreement. The result is vu becomes vue.

Case 2: If she is only perceived by one of the five senses but is not the actor of the infinitive verb tuer, the verb of perception, vu, is unaffected and remains written as vu.

Conclusion: 

Sentence #1 can be translated as “There was a woman who I saw kill.” (As in, the woman is the killer)

Sentence #2 however translates to mean “There was a woman who I saw killed.” (As in, the woman is the victim.)

Now those are two sentences with opposing meanings with significant difference in meaning. And all of that is due to that seemingly minor addition of the letter e !

 

Spotted: In the 75008, Stacey La getting scolded by une petite vieille dame

Paraphrasing what a little old Parisian woman said to me today:

“It’s really a shame that your skirt is so short. If it were longer it would be much better. You have to be careful going around with a skirt like that. If you go to certain neighborhoods you could get raped. (Did she really just say that? Yes, I think she did) You’re so cute but it would be best if you wore longer skirt. Goodbye. Have a good day.”

Yes it was windy, yes my flared skirt was short and appeared shorter with heels but I was wearing opaque, black tights and holding my skirt down gracefully! Not to mention she’s sharing her belief that a woman’s outfit causes her be harassed and raped, but that’s another problem for another day.

I’m not really bothered but I thought it was funny and very frank of her, a complete stranger. This is something that has never happened to me and I don’t think would ever happen to me in New York.