This week Brian’s girlfriend Janet got added to the “People I Annoy” list. Having known each other for a couple of years now, Janet and I get along reasonably well. She has yet to invite me over to a slumber party where everyone stays up all night to eat microwave popcorn, drink diet Pepsi, and watch Brad Pitt movies, but we are also not to the stage where I would find it necessary to hold her hostage in my garage in a convoluted scheme to help Brian discover his long lost true love like in the movie “Saving Silverman.” Mostly because that would make me the character who realizes he is gay and goes on to marry his ex-con militaristic homosexual football coach on stage at a Neil Diamond concert. Like I need to go through that again.
The whole situation started at the train station in France named “Paris Nord”. No, it’s not a typo, it’s French. Translated into English it means “the last stop before Eurodisney.” OK, maybe my French skills aren’t as finely honed as, say, anyone in Europe who hasn’t lost their tongue, but I’m not making up the Eurodisney part. I planned to “rendezvous” (once again, that’s French) with Brian and Janet at the station after their plane landed in Paris earlier that day. As much as they love French train stations, Brian’s parents trusted our navigational skills enough to remain back at the hotel.
By the time I got into town and settled into my hotel room, it was really too late to go out and do anything. I sat down on the bed and did little more than contemplate paying 400 units of the local currency for an 8 ounce water bottle from the “courtesy” bar. (Another French term meaning “we know you are too lazy, scared, or stupid to walk to the store.”)
The next day we toured the city and learned quite a bit about the history of Paris. In the morning we saw the factory where they make French people snooty. Later on in the afternoon we saw the building where all the tacky models of the Eiffel Tower are put together. This assembly process takes place in the very same factory that manufactured the metal beams for the original tower. That was until the 1980’s when the plant ran out of space and had to be relocated in the nice pristine rolling hills of Southern Asia. We finished off the day with a classy dinner. By then it was about nine o’clock at night. Everyone in our “entourage” except Brian and I decided to call it a night. We left the hotel after casually telling Janet “We’re going to hang out for a while.”
Before I go any further with the story, I should point out that Brian and I had not seen each other for the better part of five months. We talked on the phone and exchanged emails, but that doesn’t compare to hanging out in person. Up to that point in our friendship I don’t think we had ever been apart for longer than two or three weeks at a time. We had quite a bit of catching up to do. And to be honest, I really like to gossip about everything– as evidenced by the fact I spent large quantities of time writing about every minute aspect of my life, posting it on the Internet, and then begging the world to read it all.
After leaving the hotel we aimlessly walked around the city. We eventually found our way to the “Louvre” (yet another French word—this means “huge art museum with strange pyramid in the courtyard.) We sat down and talked about random aspects of our lives for “a while.” (I know that’s not French. The quotes are employed as a foreshadowing device. When I tell the story in person I make the “finger quotation mark” gesture.) Eventually the conversation started to focus around our observation that it was no longer dark. This quickly led to a “have we really been out here for seven and a half hours?” discussion.
Anyone who eats a traditional French dinner and then sits outside all night will eventually feel the need to evacuate his or her bladder. Now I’m not saying we peed “on” one of the most famous museums in the world, but I’m not going to say we didn’t pee “in the general vicinity” of said structure. After our immediate biological needs were addressed we headed back to the hotel. I commented to Brian that he wouldn’t even have to wake up Janet in the middle of the night when he got back.
This was completely true, but made largely irrelevant by the fact Janet fell asleep when we left and woke up a few hours (less than, say, seven and a half) later to notice a lack of her significant other in the room. Deciding that we had been out longer than “a while” she became very concerned about our well being. She called Brian’s parent’s hotel room. Brian’s mom was not at all concerned with our being out all night in a foreign country with no explanation of our agenda. She did what she could to put Janet at ease by explaining this is completely consistent with our past behavior.
Despite these reassurances, Janet stayed up the rest of the night envisioning our lifeless corpses floating down the river in the heart of Paris possibly to be violated in some unnatural way by a medieval sewer dwelling monster. In reality I was busy explaining to Brian all the things I saw in Amsterdam floating around in the canal water. And to this day, I can’t quite put into words exactly how that smells.
I don’t know exactly what happened when Brian got back to his room. I, on the other hand, went back to my hotel room occupied only by the bottle of outrageously expensive water I was flirting with the night before. The next morning (45 minutes later) we all met for breakfast. Janet made a point of saying she wasn’t mad at us. While I’m admittedly not an expert on this matter, I’m pretty sure that when a woman specifically says she isn’t mad that implies on some level she isn’t exactly happy either.
After all was said and done, I’m not sure Brian and I really did anything wrong. But we both feel bad Janet stayed up all night worrying about our welfare. Fortunately it didn’t ruin the whole trip. I think I did a decent job of patching things up with her a few days later when I assisted Janet in the fine art of getting drunk on plum wine at a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam. But that’s another story.