Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bad Scene at Bastille Day

Yesterday my husband and I decided to go check out the Bastille Day Fest that's held every year in the city. Last year, when we'd gone with friends, we'd enjoyed superior champagne in buckets full of ice set on outdoor tables, enjoyable live music from the band jamming at the front of the street, and delectable chocolate crepes. Mmm! We only had good memories as we approached the scene of the crime.

Something, though, had happened to the festival this year. Perhaps it's because of the debacle incited by Jacques Chirac? Even if he did say that American hamburgers were good. This year, the venue was utterly packed. Barely enough room to breathe, people literally on top of one another. Last year, it had been much roomier, with more air. The music was screechy, French affectations of Warner Bros. cartoon tunes, done in a post-modern horribly atonal fashion that had tears running out of my eyes. I know it's so juvenile, but I really wanted to put my hands to my mouth and yell, New York style, "YOU SUCK!" Worse yet, the prices! One glass (probably about 4 oz.) of the good champagne was $12.50, cash only. We looked at the Spanish sparkling wine, the cava, and that went for $6, which was acceptable.

However, I was getting a very bad vibe from the entire scene and turned to my darling before he could put money down for the drinks and said to him, "Maybe we should go home and grill steaks and pop open a nice bottle of wine or sparkling there instead? I could make asparagus and mushrooms and we could throw on mashed potatoes, too?" His beautiful blue eyes widened in surprise, their long eyelashes glowing in the sunlight. "Are you actually saying to me that you don't want me to buy any drinks here?" I nodded. He put away his wallet, surprised beyond belief, because I love going out and adore crowds and luxuriating in summer weather, but this time I just couldn't deal with it. Could it be PMS?

We turned to leave. I said, "I can't pin-point it, but it's a bad scene. I'm really uncomfortable and don't like anything this year -- the music, the prices, the people. Something's wrong." That's when he told me that the festival seemed to be full of overdressed and anxious middle-aged women looking for men. Several had made eye contact with him and tried to smile at him and move in his direction, only to then notice that I (very casually dressed in a black tank top and khaki Gap shorts and sneakers) was holding his hand. Then the look on their face would change entirely, in his words, "Get really weird," and they would literally turn their backs on him and start scanning the crowd in a different direction.

As soon as he told me, I realized that what he was saying was true. There were many happy couples there, and some groups of guys in their 30s, but there were gangs of very overly made-up women wearing a "pick up uniform" of white capri pants, 4" high heels, expensive pastel tank tops with metallic leather purses. All of them seemed to be wearing a preponderance of perfume, green or blue eye shadow, and very gaudy pink lipstick accompanied by towering, teased, manes of bleached blond hair. And he was right -- they really were looking at him, and any other male around. Because I'm fairly small and was wearing my usual getup, I didn't have a neon sign over my head saying "Notice me! Notice me!" I guess I should have put on some of that flourescent eyeshadow.

Damn the French!

We took a walk in the neighborhood to clear our heads and then head home, but I just felt so.... sticky afterwards, and he said to me in our car, "I want to take a shower and clean myself off." I kissed him and said, "Let's go enjoy an evening together. Thank you for taking me to the Bastille Day Fest even though it was so bad."

Now that we're married, we can stay in on a Saturday night, grill steaks and potatoes for each other and watch "The Pacifier" while eating. I love going out, but it seemed right to simply relax and clear our heads after the brawl of desperation at the fest. My darling later smiled at me and said, "You know, I have bottles of 1985 Krug champagne. I'm saving it for the reception at our wedding." Awww! Now that will be the right place to enjoy incredible champagne with my darling and amongst those we love.


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