nI’m in Paris with my newly-intrepid daughter Bree.Her experience backpacking through Europe, has transformed this once reserved, homebody, into the adventurous woman I see before me today. A woman who believes anything in life is possible…. IF, you are willing to take the leap of faith required to face ones inner-most fears. My youngest daughter is formulating a plan to live in Barcelona, regardless of her somewhat reserved character, limited Spanish, and the daunting task of relocating to a country with minimal job prospects, her steadfast determination persists. (motherly pride oozes from every pore)
Our dual purpose of converging in Paris will be threefold: ONE, to discuss her options, TWO, receive guidance, THREE, to explore this incandescent city. What could possibly top all that??? How about a bizarre incident with a French waiter!
We begin our second day, shopping in the 1st Arrondissement (the district around the Louvre). After an extensive hunt for Aveda hair products, (isn’t that what everyone does in Paris?), we settle into one of the many outdoor cafés along the engaging, Rue de Rivoli.
We delight in the quintessential bowl of French Onion Soup, chaperoned by a crispy baguette, and a glass of fine French wine. Bree has insisted on paying for lunch, so while she waits for the bill, I excuse myself to search out our waiter to; #1 – have him write up our bill, and #2- inquire as to the locating of the ladies room. As with many Parisian men in the service industry, our somewhat annoying waiter comes complete with: tailored white shirt, black vest, form fitting pants, coiffured hair, steel blue eyes, and an overly confident demeanour. Considering “le garçon” has scarcely attended to us during our lunch, he’s now making direct, intense, and excessive eye contact, all the while pointing to a spiral staircase, where I presume the toilets are located. In addition, he adds the following comment in fractured english. “If you please Madame, I have a message for your tire food“. Puzzled, I request clarification, he repeats, “I have a message for your tire food”. I’m confused, and quite frankly, simply want the bill, and the bathroom, I really don’t care what he’s trying to say. I point in the direction of my daughter, indicating she will be taking care of the bill. He nods with perceived understanding, bows his head graciously, and states once again, “I have a message for your food madame, après”. I grow weary of his peculiar attempt to engage my food in conversation. I remove myself from this little tête-à-tête, by winding my way down the stairs to the ladies room below. It’s quite possible, his English is worse than my Italian.
Upon exiting the facilities, le garçon is waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase. He reaches for my hand, and as he does, I pull my arm away, making my way past him to the first rung of stairs. He smiles, and motions for me to take a seat in the chair to his right.
You may consider this strange, however, for me, when visiting a foreign country, if I don’t necessarily understand the customs, I’ll, at times, simply go with the flow. With hesitation, and I admit intrigue, I lower myself onto the chair, all the while maintaining a prudent eye on the customers & staff, to my left at the top of the stairs.
He inquires after my comfort level, then lowers himself on one knee, he tenderly lifts my foot, then attempts to remove my sandal. It would seem he wants to “massage my tired foot” not “message my tire food“.
I resist his efforts, however he assures me, with a gentle voice, and an oh so delicate, and surprisingly respectful hand, that he merely wants to “message my tire food”…. to tell you the truth my “tire food” could use a messaged. I actually look around expecting to find Alan Funt from Candid Camera, hiding in a corner, ready to reveal the classic tag-line from the TV show I watched in my childhood…. “smile, your on candid camera”. Ok, now is where it gets really weird…. he proclaims, “your ‘food’ is beautiful”, and in that moment he raises my “food” to his lips, and kisses my tired, dusty, and I suspect slightly stinky “food”.
He then request a kiss….. I reply with a definite… NO !!! However, at this point, I’ve splintered into laugher…. confusing my laughter for demur consent, he leans forward with one hand on my shin, and the other on my ‘food’, he leans in for the kiss. (same lips that just kissed my foot, and I know where that foot’s been walking) I turn my lips from his overly familiar advance, at which time he modifies his approach, he kisses my cheek, when I resist further, he retreats, without fan-fair. He’s remarkably non-pulsed by my resistance, as a matter of fact, he’s rather calm, he expertly slips my sandal back on, then helps me to my feet.
Could he possibly pull this stunt on a daily basis? Do women actually fall for this? Have I seriously just come face to foot with a full blown foot-fetish? Does foot-fetishism include; fatigued, non-pedicured, size 8, not overly attractive, Canadian feet?He’s unfazed as he directs me, without conversation, to the table where my daughter sits relaxed, and untroubled, enjoying the activity on this engaging street in central Paris. Before I regale my daughter with this “message” vs “massage” incident, I interlock my arm in hers, as we walk toward our shared afternoon at the Musée du Louvre, enjoying the company of, Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and inverted pyramids. With one final glance behind me, I spot our waiter as he casually clears our table, a look of passive contentment settled on his face, with a nonchalant raise of his eyebrow, he winks, and smiles in our direction.
Only in Paris….