Parisians Being Parisian

Parisians Being Parisian


Paris shopping carts
Rhythmic Parisian shopping carts. (author’s photo)

Whenever I go somewhere I come away wondering what I’ve missed. In Paris not what streets I didn’t follow, but rather on the trodden streets what I missed while looking at it. Did I drink in the cathedral’s master architecture and miss the robin on Mary’s marble toe? Its gimbaling head ticking quickly in all directions, for food, for foe. Or have I watched tree shadows gyre on a wall and missed the parade?

I’ve spent a month in Paris, thinking I could post here diligently daily. I must apologize — I gave Paris my all.  Walking miles, gawking (which is hard for me unless I’m still). Soaking in Parisians being Parisian the way Jane Goodall would observe wild chimpanzees — if she was a chimpanzee.

What I was watching for of course is what made Parisians unlike me. Not that they don’t breathe in air as we New Englanders do but that their Paris air is drenched with sex pheromones. You don’t see them but Mama if you don’t feel them my condolences to you. Matrons wear their breasts high and proud; it’s clear which men dress to the left and which to the right. A couple wedged at the next table in a restaurant, tall, well groomed. It’s possible that she never took her eyes off his all night. Next to her, arguing issues with my partner, I feel a buffoon. She’s so smooth, so elegant. They shared an ice cream dessert but she didn’t spoon in until he nudged the dish toward her.

Was their dinner foreplay?

You’re right, how the hell would I know?  It’s just I’ve never seen an American woman gaze so pointedly into a man’s eyes for a three-course dinner — but it felt like a mode both Parisians were well-accustomed to. Bien sur.


The shopping carts shown at top sat lined up at our local grocery store. To me they’re part of the Paris je ne sais quoi, the something that try as I might cannot quite be put in words. Their keen and twitchy nose for style.



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