I feel like I won the lottery. Really, there’s no better way to describe my disbelief-mixed-with-jubilation upon my arrival in Paris this morning. For a while there, it wasn’t looking good for me and the300+ other passengers on my flight (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other travelers to/from Europe). But the volcano and the jet stream came together and gave the world a break. That was very nice of them—don’t you think?
Needless to say, both Miami International and Charles de Gaulle airports were crazy. The unbelievably swift check in and pass through security in Miami were, as it turns out, the calm before the storm. Because once I got to the gate—well, the angry-villagers-with-torches-and-pitchforks-scene came to mind. It felt like there were twice as many people at the gate as could fit on the plane, which made perfect sense once the woman at the check-in counter (who I came to call “The Gate Master”) started asking/begging for volunteers to give up their seats to those who’d been stranded by the volcano and were now stuck on stand-by.
But once we were in the air, I didn’t detect any relief. It felt like business as usual. So I settled in to my new Vanity Fair magazine as I waited for my “chicken or beef?” dinner to arrive. And that’s when I realized that the French have finally taken over Hollywood and the media. First there was the Balenciaga ad with Charlotte Gainsbourg. About 20 pages later, there’s Marion Cotillard for Dior. And six pages after that? Audrey Tautou for Chanel No. 5.
After double-checking to be certain I’d been mailed the U.S. version of the magazine, I decided that this was kismet—whatever “kismet” is. After all, here I was, on the first American Airlines flight to leave Miami for Paris in a week, with three beautiful French women to bid me a bon voyage.
Well, that’s the story I told myself, anyway.
Our arrival in Paris was … unceremonious. There was no applause upon landing. No comments from the flight crew. No band to play La Marseillaise at the gate. Leave it to the French to show such nonchalance.
However, in the taxi on the way into Paris, my driver commented on the fact that there was finally traffic again, becoming the first person to show even a modicum of pleasure at the return to normalcy. He also offered me a little language lesson (by request) on the gender of the word addresse. After giving him the address of my apartment in the 7th, I realized I had to meet someone first. Unsure of the “sex” of addresse, I simply stated, “Nouveau addresse, s’il vous plait.” But since word genders always throw me for a loop (and will continue to do so until the end of time), I asked him, “nouveau ou nouvelle?” Well, he was thrilled to be able to offer a brief discourse on the subject, and equally delighted that I knew enough to inquire. I believe that I might actually have earned a gold star, or would have had he any available.