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how to make an entrance

I did go for that run, this morning. Finally the weather has turned, it’s a glorious day, and I was editing the essay when I got stuck on the last line. So, time to get out. I ran in my slow and lumbering way to and around le Jardin des Plantes, and now I can state: it’s not true that the French don’t run, but it’s true that French women of a certain age don’t run, or perhaps of any age. People seem to find me an incongruous sight, a 58-year old woman in running gear, flapping down the streets.  However, it felt great. 

Particularly after last night’s enormous feast. I went to one of Patricia Laplante-Collins’ soirees; she’s an African-American of huge personality who has hosted these events for many years. Every Sunday night, wherever she happens to be living, anyone who wants to listen to a writer read or a singer sing and meet others, particularly other Americans, and eat a sumptuous meal afterwards, need only find her and pay 20 euros. There were 30 people packed into her small living-room last night, including some Australians and even a few French citizens come to watch the expats at play. 
My new friend David Burke read from his terrific, juicy book “Writers in Paris;” his topic for the night was “Bad boys in Paris,” and he told us great anecdotes about Rimbaud and Verlaine, Hemingway and Jean Genet and Francois Villon, who was a bad boy poet in the sixteenth century.  There was a great deal of mingling, and then a vast quantity of food appeared, by some miracle, from Patricia’s postage stamp kitchen. She told us that her stove had stopped working that day, so she cooked two gigots of lamb in a wok.  It was 9.30 by that time, and I ate like a wolf.
Hence, the necessity of today’s run.
Oh, but I almost forgot, conveniently, to tell you the best part of the evening – my spectacular entrance. Here’s how it’s done: you wear a tight skirt and high-heeled shoes, even though you’ve railed about how silly it is to wear the spindly things. You stand at the doorway, and someone hands you both a glass of wine AND a glass of champagne, both of which YOU HAVE ONLY JUST SIPPED. You stand on a little throw rug, and someone behind you makes a sudden move which jolts the rug. And suddenly, you feel that you are about to topple over. And you do, you crumple (perhaps gracefully or perhaps not) to the floor with a glass in each hand, in front of a crowd of 30 strangers. 
Yes, that’s what happened. I found myself on the floor and various people helped to pick me up. It was the combination of my unsteadiness in the shoes and the unsteady rug, and that when I went off balance, I didn’t have a hand to stop myself.  A Brazilian told me he thought it was great that I hardly spilled any wine. Later, when Patricia went around the room and people introduced themselves, I said, “I’m Beth, a Canadian, and I like to fall down in public places.”
But actually, I’d rather not, thank you very much.
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On Sunday morning, I went to the Mouffetard market. David Burke had shown us a turn-of-the- last-century photograph of this very street, which has housed many writers. A scene in Les Miserables takes place in the little church, Eglise Médard, in the square. The church holds its services outside, weather permitting, but the service was over and the music had begun – a group arrives with microphone and accordeons, and they play and sing. And people were dancing. An old man danced with his small granddaughter; young and old couples, middle-aged women, young girls, and around them the crowd with song sheets, singing too, and everywhere the blossoms and smell of spring – a fine, April moment, nothing Miserable about it at all.
In the market detritus on the ground were some discarded bits of lilac which I gathered to bring home. In Toronto, I have a lilac tree; here a little glass with a few blooms, which will have to do, for this spring, anyway. 
As I walked around the winding, medieval streets, there seemed to be a pastry shop on every corner, a cheese shop, a specialty store with delicacies. The cafés were flourishing, the outdoor tables packed.  I bought some supplies at the grocery store FranPrix, which is not picturesque but cheaper than the small places, and noticed that the wine I bought was considerably less expensive than the cheese.  And when I walked by on my way home, the band was playing “La Vie en Rose” and the people were dancing still. 

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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