Ma Femme Cuisine
Something needs to be said about the apartment we were spending our last week in. There were sliding glass doors that allowed one to separate the bedroom, its WC and shower, from the more spacious living room and kitchen part of the apartment, which had a comfortable sofa suitable for a smallish wife person to sleep on, and its own WC. All this would come in very handy, because we moved in on a Wednesday, and the next day those academic friends from London arrived, and although they knew there was a chance* they brought covid with them, they decided spending time with us was worth the risk. Risk? To whom? Why to us, of course.
On Friday the husband could hardly stay awake. The visitors left later that day. The next day I could hardly stay awake, and the day after that, Sunday, the fever and vomiting started. Francesca used one of the covid home testing kits we had with us, and gave me the bad news: covid positive. Shit, fuck, bull balls. I was more than a little disappointed. This apartment was in gallery/cafe central, and I’d need to spend our last days in it in bed. Fuck, shit, bull balls.
[*As it turns out, these visitors probably did not bring covid with them, and the 3 of us got it together, possibly at a Moroccan restaurant we went to their first night in Paris.]
Francesca moved into the living room, kept the sliding doors mostly shut, and would periodically watch to see if her husband’s feet were wiggling, this being taken as a sign of life. She tried to fix me healing food, but I’d lost all appetite, and the only thing I could keep down was yogurt. That was my last week in Paris, spent mostly in bed, and more than a little bit pissed. This 5 week trip was more dominated by foreign friends visiting us than any previous trip. Way more. And in the end, over two years after the Chinese exported their microbe to the world, it finally got us. And it was entirely avoidable. [Well, not really, as I said. Or maybe.] Francesca came down with a milder case, but yesterday, 3 weeks after initial infection, and now home (don’t ask), we both tested negative.
My health permitting further EU travels, will we allow any other foreign guests to intrude on our travels? Initially, when I was “very very angry”, my attitude was no. No capes, and no visitors. After a few days resting at home, and now feeling just “very angry”, I relented. All friends save two will be permitted to seek us out. [Again, reason for excluding them was unwarranted, so …] I have not told the London duo that they are personae non gratae, forbidden our refulgent presence in future, but correspondence on their end has dried up*, compunction (?) finally ascendant.
[*Correspondence has restarted, and they corrected my impression that their son had recently had covid, leading to my impression they could be disease vectors. In fact that spawn had had it months earlier. Still, we are feeling ill disposed to encouraging visitors next time, and my oncologist saw no reason there shouldn’t be a next time, so yay.]
Prior to London duo arrival Francesca and I went to new Top Gun film, and Francesca was considerably more keen on the prospect than I. But she had a ball, and as the film was in English, with French subtitles, she laughed heartily at several of the lines of dialogue. A French couple sat to our right, the male closest, and he found Francesca’s enthusiasm amusing and infectious. His date, Francesca says, would periodically peer around her date and glare knives at Francesca (yet another French coquette). She should have restricted her bile to her date, for in response to Francesca’s enthusiasm, he overcame his French reticence and began laughing at some of the lines that were amusing Francesca. His date, perceiving her date to be under the influence of another woman, was unamused. As usual, I noticed none of this, but Francesca’s ability to absorb social interactions in her vicinity is truly spooky. The date – the girl – exuded vapidity, and Francesca annoyed and perplexed her, and her date found Francesca far too interesting. Yeah, so, that happened.
The day the London duo arrived we went to a Moroccan restaurant, as mentioned. Peter Woit, my favorite physics blogger, was to have joined us, but he came down with something, which likely saved him from catching covid (well, not really; he told me later it was covid; and, you know, we traveled all over France and Italy in 2021 and nothing, and it was, or so we thought, by far the more dangerous year).
Moroccan dinner done, the four of us wandered over to a nearby park. We sat and ordered drinks at a nearby kiosk, and sat at a table to enjoy same. Or we would have enjoyed them had the London male, whose displeasure with our company was coming to a boil, not said something of a political nature that Francesca wasn’t about to let rest. A heated debate ensued, alternately frightening and amusing nearby patrons. At one point I looked across to the London wife, who was, like me, a noncombatant, and said, “How ‘bout them Red Sox?”. This had a very marginal defusing effect. Eventually I did interject with some equivocal words of wisdom, and we all calmed down. When we departed we left a barely visible trail of smoke behind us.
We shortly thereafter encountered something curious. Along the parks edge, on the street, there were around 20 tinted window police (?) vehicles, one full of electronic gear. And dotted along the whole stretch were numerous gendarmes carrying some lethal looking weaponry.
Now, it must be said, our London visitors, are somewhat timid, so when they saw me approach one of the heavily armed guys, they scurried (Francesca says they actually ran) away quickly, wanting nothing to do with whatever I was up to. And here’s what I was up to. I approached the nearest of the lethally armed guys, and indicating all the vehicles, and his equally lethally armed compatriots, asked, “Pour moi?” Initially perplexed as to what the fuck I could possibly mean, he replied “Pour vous?” I beamed in a friendly manner, he got the joke, smiled in response, and a I nodded and carried on, my London friends now but specks in the distance, hoping that that vast distance was sufficient to escape the fusillade of bullets that would inevitably be aimed at me. In the end they needn’t have worried; fewer than five shots were fired in my general direction.
Having caught up with visitors and Francesca, we ended up wandering into a gallery show with displays of really awful art. One of the patrons tried to pick up the male London friend, but we saved him. Evidently bronze etchings were involved.
Further perambulations brought us to an enormous area of cafes full of people having excellent cafe time. I love cafe time. I got the London duo to confess that there was nothing like that in London.
Something else of note occurred our last week in Paris. The Mona Lisa was attacked: “Witnesses said that the would-be vandal approached the artwork wearing a long wig and dressed as an elderly woman in a wheelchair. He allegedly leapt up, attempted to smash the glass, and failing that, smeared it with cake. As he was tackled by guards, he threw roses, Reuters reported. He shouted “think of the earth, people are destroying the earth!” in French as he was taken away by security. A Louvre statement confirmed the attack on the artwork involved a ‘patisserie.’” Ah, Paris. Ah, France.
I have a few notes put at the base of this travelogue as reminders. One of these is “hyper psychedelic dream”. As some of you may know, in my teens I “experimented” with LSD. This is not to say that I put some of the chemical in a test tube and analyzed it. No. I popped pills, the third and last time overdosing. So, over 50 years later, I’m sleeping in France, and I have a dream that in many ways exceeded in weirdness an LSD overdose. Lots and lots of colors, and things happening that made little sense. On a scale of 1 to 10, its bizarreness exceeded 11. By a lot. You should have been there. It may have been due to something I ingested – probably some cheese. I am strongly affected by some cheeses, Camembert in particular, which ought to be illegal.
I have another reminder note that says simply, “Pyramid vs friendly dog”. This is a really good story, or did you miss the part that it involves a dog. Here’s the thing, though: I haven’t a clue what that note refers to. Disappointed? Not half as much a I am. We never went to the Louvre pyramid, so it wasn’t that. And why should there be a “vs” between “Pyramid” and “friendly dog”? Perplexing.
A final note regarded catching covid from [with] London friends. I’ve modified this a trifle, to protect the innocent, but this is a text I sent to French Maryline: “The problem is, we’re really-good-fun, and many of our friends crave our really-good-funness, and visiting Suzanne and myself allows them to experience really-good-fun. And that is why this pair of Brits – actually just the wife (the husband, with each passing year, finds us more and more annoying) – knowing there was a risk that they were covid carriers, were willing – nay, desperate – to put us at risk so that they (she) might briefly experience really-good-funness, as their lives in London were 180 degrees out of phase with that state. She hoped, I believe, that the covid already in their home would not affect us. She was wrong. The lesson: being really-good-fun is hazardous to your health.” [Well, it is, even if none of that actually happened.]
And speaking of disappearing glaciers, as I write this (2022.07.19) parts of Britain are reaching temperatures never before reached. Some airport runways started to melt. Meanwhile, in France, this headline: “Outdoor public events have been banned in an area of France as a record breaking heatwave sweeps across Europe.” So, sure, maybe I have years to live, but I do wonder if European travel will remain viable for as long as I am viable. (And now, at the end of August, 2022, much of the USA, Europe, and China, are drying up. Some bizarre things are being exposed as the waters recede. The earth and I seem to be crumbling in synch.)