Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blowing Smoke

Please trust me when I tell you that I just finished writing a very interesting blog. Unfortunately, French Windows is installed on my computer and, after two months in France, I still managed to get my "oui" and "non" confused and deleted it. It took all my creative energy and was such pure genius that I dare not try to reproduce it. Here is a bare-bones account:

- Amy and Fred go to dinner at neighborhood Thai restaurant, Chao Praya.
- They request the non-smoking section and know that said section exists upstairs because they sat there two weeks prior.
- Owner sits them at table downstairs with an ashtray on it. All surrounding tables had ashtrays on them.
- Amy restates her request twice. Owner reassures her.
- Later, more customers arrive. Some are directed upstairs, some downstairs.
- Without incident, Amy and Fred enjoy their entree [appetizer] of shrimp and chicken spring rolls. Mmmm, deep fried. Just as their plat principal [main dish] arrives, two patrons light-up.
- Amy tells Fred that Owner is greedy and sneaky and sat them downstairs because they were his first non-smoking customers of the night and he didn't want to walk his lazy ass upstairs to fill their water glasses. Amy further explains that Owner wanted to make his establishment look busy and, therefore, more attractive to passerbyers so he sat them downstairs by the window despite their desires.
- Fred looks at Amy like she might be paranoid. Amy tells Fred she has 5 years of restaurant experience and is nearly an expert.
- Fred succumbs to Amy's pestering and asks Manager why they were sat in smoking. Manager is stupid. Amy talks at Manager in English, which she knows makes her look crazy and, thus, makes her even more upset.
- Amy corners Owner and asks (in terrible French) why he claimed the table was non-smoking. He confesses, albeit late, that there is no non-smoking section. They just try to corral non-smokers together to fight over pockets of clean air.
- Amy is annoyed because, although France is lenient with smoking, if a restaurant is big enough, which this one is, then it is obligated to have a non-smoking section. Inside, Amy feels like a hypocrite because she was drunk the night before and had smoked a cigarette. But still, she can't get over the fact that Owner exposed her to second-hand smoke without her informed consent, stripping her of her right to choose whether or not she wanted to eat at an establishment that did not offer a non-smoking section.
- As Amy and Fred walk home, she wrestles with her emotions. She's upset that: (1) she had to ask Fred to do her dirty work and she felt that he wasn't dirty enough, although in retrospect and after she calmed down, she realized that his way of handling the situation was much better, it usually is; (2) she lacked the language skills to express her frustrations to Owner, namely, being the asshole lawyer who threatens to call the French authorities and report his blatant violation; (3) she couldn't just relax and enjoy her meal and the company of her loving and understanding husband; and (4) she can no longer eat at Chao Praya because the food is good (although Fred was very sweet and said that at least she was principled, she knew that inside he was equally regretful given that he loves their chicken satay).
- Amy realized that her outburst had little to do with the smoke or the unjustness of the situation and more to do with her inability to speak French and the realization that everything is more difficult.
- Fred reassures Amy that he experienced the same feelings when he moved to the U.S. Amy appreciates his kindness.
- Amy talks with her friend Todd (an American who has lived in Paris for 3 years). He assures her that her emotions are normal and that the break-downs will be fewer and farther between. This too makes Amy feel better.

Okay, there you have it. Although, I have no idea why I wrote the summary in the third person. Perhaps I'm trying to distance myself from myself (aka "Amy") because I'm ashamed of my behavior, or I'm crazy. I'll leave that for you to decide, dear readers. I do know, however, although I trust Fred and Todd, I wasn't taking any chances. I decided to go shopping to cheer myself up just for good measure.

Beginning the second week of January, French boutiques and stores have soldes [sales]. Items are marked down from 30% to 70% (see exhibits below). I've also attached photos of things that cheer me up when I'm feeling frustrated.

Exhibits (click on photos to enlarge)

Eggplant Leather Handbag (18 euro)

Black Leather Strap Boots (69 euro)
Butterscotch Leather Fitted Boots (I don't remember, I purchased them in London with pounds, it required too many conversions).

Hand-knitted (I think) Throw Blanket (32.50 euro)
*cat, not included*

Flowers from my wonderful husband!

Bilbo's Mug!

(This is what a cat looks like after having been exposed to numerous and repetitive flashes from a one-inch distance. I refused to stop until he did something that I found humorous. I know, I feel like Brooke Shield's mom.)

Addendum: Just when I was feeling like an annoying foreigner who had no right to complain, I found the following quote on Yahoo! today: "Polls indicate that 72% of the [French] population would support a complete ban on smoking in public places."
Yahoo! Article

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love bilbo,s mug, mom Isent you a comment on Saturday, I guess I sent it to the previous comment, mom