Drink, Grovel, Fuck: City of Love
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Paris looks just like it does in the pictures, which creates a sort of Christmas-every-day desensitization. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t feel anything particularly strongly, though I tried on my first day. I managed to stumble past 80 percent of known Parisian landmarks in one go: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Galleries de Tuilleries, Grand Palais, National Assembly, Arc de Triomphe, etc. I just kept walking, waiting for the experience of being in Paris to click, for travel to tap a vein. At some point my body starting giving out, and I plotted a walking course back to my rented flat on Google Maps, too intimidated as yet to try the Metro. Two more hours of legs seizing up from foot to thigh, back screaming, neck-metal (from an earlier-referenced injury) cinching up shoulders as miles of pretty white buildings, giant monuments, abandoned cathedrals, and hermetic palaces lurch by.
This touristic overdose destroyed my entire musculature and I was unable to do much more than fetch wine from the supermarche for two days. After recovering the ability to walk for more than ten minutes I pegged the Louvre as the best cultural edifice upon which to crack my shell and expose myself to visceral and mind-expanding experience. Inside the museum, the external experience of Paris repeated itself. Hours of oil paintings, white statues, porcelain objects. An astounding monotonicity of subject matter: Jesus, angels, portraits of unimpressive people seared into art history like reflections in puddles, horse battles, poultry in various states of preparation. Nearly every room is plastered in paintings from floor to ceiling; everywhere the eye turns a dozen invaluable works of man jam into your eye at the same pressure and thus prevent penetration, like walking on nails. The one painting given its own space to establish a presence, the Mona Lisa, is riveted behind tinted, apocalypse-proof glass, and wears a 20-tourist thick beard, festooned with cameras and phones, all fighting to suck something essential out of a celebrity painting. The Louvre should burn it, add a dollop of its ash to the water supply every year, raise admission prices. Two stars on Yelp.
By the time the weekend arrived I hadn’t spoken to anyone in five days, and it was becoming obvious that I couldn’t pierce the postcard carapace of the city on my own.
In the spirit of my trip, then, I decided to actually “go out” solo on Saturday night, strike up conversations with strangers, and maybe, hopefully “pick up” a lady. I had done neither before, so I purchased a fifth of Jack Daniels to provide extra-strength social lubricant, and accidentally drank most of it while searching online for amenable nightlife destinations in Paris. As such I set out in a rare state of optimism and confidence which was further enhanced by drinking the rest of the fifth out of a Coca Cola Light bottle on the way to Candelaria, a “speakeasy” cocktail bar hidden behind a taco counter in the 3rd arrondissement. It turned out to be full of European tourists. I stood at the bar for 20 minutes before I summoned the power of alcohol to interject myself into the conversation of three moderately attractive Danish women. I announced that I was a travel journalist collecting opinions on the Parisian bar scene. They weren’t particularly interested in talking to me, so I offered to buy a round of drinks. They weren’t particularly interested in this, so I claimed it was all on expense and thus nothing off my back. Thus I purchased 20 minutes of desultory conversation for 50 Euro.
The next place on my list was boarded shut, and I was coming up pretty empty re: genuine Paris. As a last ditch effort I navigated to Rue de Clignancourt near my flat to try and drunkenly gouge my way into conversation at one of the popular bars. Memory becomes a little watery. I found myself talking about something or other with a 20-something French woman. She invited me to an apartment party, and I found myself wobbling down the street with a garrulous crowd, elated at my great good fortune, but mildly worried at how drunk I already was. So I took a Bat-pill (Adderall) in a major gamble to rally and socialize with cool kids. Though I abused the drug liberally in London, it’s generally a really bad idea to drink heavily on it, as the interaction can turn you into a full-on wreck. Nevertheless, it worked! I was sitting on a couch, smoking a cigarette, drinking JB, and arguing with a hipster-bearded French comic artist about latter-day Cronenberg movies! Women were dancing and drinking wine!
I had penetrated to the heart of a foreign youth experience! Maybe I could even sleep with someone.
It was time to surreptitiously chew some Viagra, get off the couch and…
I return to consciousness and am being blown by a big-bodied black woman in some kind of enclosed alleyway. She looks kind of like Macy Gray. This isn’t necessarily what I had in mind, and I don’t remember her being at the party, and this condom is cramping my style, but hey, this trip is all about trying new things so just go with…
I click back on in a side street in Little Africa, surrounded by African youths who are jeering at me and arguing with Macy in French. One of them tries to extract my wallet from my back pocket, and while I’m swatting him off another lifts my camera out of my jacket. I play tug of war with the lanyard while the crowd laughs; he wins and I chase him around two or three blocks until he disappears. I return to Macy who is still yelling at the laughing teens. Fuck you guys! I just lost all the pictures for my…
I am back in my flat, Macy has her tights off, but is still wearing her top, which is a little weird, and is grinding in my lap, trying to get my semi-flaccid penis into her, which works for three or four dips, but I can’t really feel anything, maybe if I take more Viagra…
Macy is attempting to jerk me off, massaging my prostate with a condomed finger (what the fuck? Parisian women do that?), complaining that her arms are tired and why can’t I just come already. She pulls her tights back on, wants to leave right away. I should walk with her to an ATM on the way to the Metro. Buh? For the 200 Euros.
This explains the preponderance of prophylactics on all digits and orifices.
My bank card won’t work on the ATM. We try another. Clearly, my account has been frozen yet again for foreign activity. Macy is on the phone, furious, screaming to someone about a deadbeat customer. Oh fuck. I’m good for the money, I just have to call the fraud center during U.S. business hours, I’ll meet you back at this corner at 8 p.m. tomorrow with the cash. She is highly skeptical of the proposition. She takes the seven or eight Euros I have on me. She will see me tomorrow. She knows where I live, so I’d better be there. I thank her for the mutual trust. We hug goodbye. I have had a real experience. I have full-well ruined myself.