After a few days in Angers last week, my friend Natalie jetted off to Spain to visit another friend. I was supposed to join her in Barcelona, but the rent reimbursement check that had been posted three weeks prior didn’t reach me in time to book a flight. Mystery solved: it got mixed in a stack of mail my landlady hadn’t looked at since Christmas. Gee thanks yet again for nothing, la femme aux grands yeux. (My roommate and I call her The Woman With Big Eyes. It’s pretty self-explanatory.)
Natalie had to fly out of Paris Wednesday morning, though, so I joined her there Tuesday night. After crêpes for dinner and dessert, we headed to the Champs-Elysées,
I was, to put it nicely, freakin’ pissed that my check had been sitting in a pile of junk mail on my landlady’s kitchen counter rather than buying me a ticket to Barcelona, but as Elizabeth Gilbert says, God doesn’t shut a door without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies. Since I didn’t drop a ton of money on a weekend in Spain, I decided that it would be okay to do a bit of shopping during France’s weird government-regulated January sales period. I could do that in Angers, of course, but it’s way more exciting in Paris.
So, after seeing Natalie off, I took myself out for a day of shopping in Gay Paree. Trouble is, months of painstaking frugality made shopping surprisingly difficult. I was terrified of suffering buyer’s remorse later. I had made a list of (mostly boring) things I’d had my eye on for several weeks, but I didn’t even buy everything on the list because I couldn’t stand parting with money like that.
Consequently, I made an interesting cultural observation. I have a theory as to the real reason that French women are thin: in a land known for lingerie, if you wear over B-cup bra, you will be punished with crippling prices on a limited selection of ugly bras that are inadequate for real boobage.
I did have a nice, if exhausting, day walking miles and miles around a few parts of Paris I had never explored, though. All day, only one person Englished me (that is, responded in English when I asked a question in French). Another great thing was that the theme of the day was Things That Are Accidentally Funny.
As I wore out my feet, legs, and patience looking at a ka-jillion shops, I kept thinking of a dress I’d seen in a little boutique in the 11th arrondissement that I had decided against on the principle that I don’t need it. It was stuck in my head as badly as that Shakira & Dizzee Rascal song that was playing all over Paris. After several hours of thinking about that dress—and feeling disappointed that the only things I had chosen (khakis, a black cardigan, and a white shirt) were things I could have gotten anywhere—enough was enough. If I didn’t buy it, it was going to haunt me forever. With just over an hour ’til my train, I ran through the Metro and the Paris streets back to the little boutique and tried on the dress, which of course fit perfectly. It was a big splurge, even at 50% off, but je l’adore and it will be my Special Paris Dress until I’m old enough to be ashamed of my legs, at which point it will either be my daughter’s Mom’s Special Dress from Paris, or, if I’m famous, auctioned for charity. I’m not going to post a picture of it yet because I’m saving it for my anniversary dinner with Jef, so until then, just imagine this: Mad Men meets mermaid.