Last weekend, I was riding my sister’s bicycle to the bookstore and if I had written that sentence three and a half years ago, when I was still a student in the American university school system, I would have laughed.
Only dorky foreign exchange students ride bicycles, silly.
Ding, ding! Attention! Passing on zee left!
People, riding a bicycle is SO ROCK. Oh, the pleasure I derive, wheeling down the rue de Rivoli, the wind in my hair (you do NOT wear a helmet in Paris, that is something only dorky Americans do, and if my friend’s father reads this-- Frank Christy, a.k.a. Mr. Safety who, concerned with his college-aged daughter's solitary drive to Jacksonville, FL once convinced her to make the trek WITH A FAKE DOG IN HER BACKSEAT-- Mr. Christy, you are flipping out about the helmet thing; that is very kind, and it is going to be okay. Meanwhile, my own parents are probably shrugging and saying, “No helmet? Eh! We've got a couple more where that one came from.”)
But yes, scarf ‘round neck, trench coat of cuteness, hair unencumbered of helmet. But the best, THE BEST, JERRY is when the leaves crunch under your wheels. Or maybe the best is the gabump, gabump, gabump of riding over wooden walking bridges. Yee gads, it’s a tossup. Because life is candy and the sun is a bowl of butter when I’m riding my bicycle and you’d better not kill my buzz or I will pluck your toe-hairs slowly.
Which is pretty painful, fyi.
So I’m feeling downright kicky as I park my bicycle (ding! ding!) behind the bookstore W.H. Smith last weekend.
ENTER STAGE LEFT: bloodless mouth breather in blue uniform
“C’est interdit de se garer ici, Madame.”
Having seen bicycles parked on all the surrounding streets, I find this a bit curious and express this, genuinely. “Oh? Why?”
“Because I am a policeman and I say so, that’s why.”
Blinking, I give him a moment to add some sort of ADULT explanation-- “Midgets in orange jumpsuits will beat the baby squirrels if you park your bike on rue du Mont Thabor, Miss” would have been an improvement-- but instead he just adjusts his little blue hat and says, “I think that I know my métier.”
I think. that I know. my métier.
Sir, you are wearing the hat of a bellboy.
“Can I park it on rue Cambon?”
”Rue de Rivoli?”
I rattle off a few more surrounding streets waiting for some explanation befitting a man over thirteen, even if it was, “I don’t make the laws ma’am.” Anything but I THINK THAT I KNOW MY METIER.
“So it’s just rue du Mont Thabor that’s forbidden?” Because 'you say so' you bloodless prick, spawn of Satan, thank you very much for ruining my bicycle buzz now would you please mind burning in hell?
He gives an affirmative nod of his little pillbox hatted-head and all I can think to say is, “Oh.”
Then I turn around, wheeling my bicycle in shock, wondering, did that just happen? Did I just go from being stoned on life to popping a blood vessel in 30 seconds? Will living in France cause me permanent neurological damage? Did Adam Gopnick pay him to say that “métier” thing? Can we get a team from Johns Hopkins to take some DNA samples of this perfect specimen of a functionary alien prick, BECAUSE I’M PRETTY SURE EVEN NASA WOULD WANT TO KNOW WHAT MAKES THIS GUY TICK.