maandag 1 december 2014

A Darker Side of Paris

It was in the lovely spring of 1975. The two former students were very happy to get the opportunity to visit the city of light, Paris. That they had to travel with a group of new colleagues of one of them was not very important to them. There was a whole schedule figured out where the group would go and at what time. They got a copy of that schedule from one of the organisers, just tore it to pieces and threw these in the waste bin in the train. They had their own plans!

When the company arrived in the morning at the station Gare du Nord, they marched like a group of geese to the hotel. It was not very far but the load of beer the young men had been drinking during the night on the train caused a headache for both of them. So they were glad that the distance to the hotel was not very far. Their company agreed to have breakfast in an hour, but the youngsters excused themselves and said they were going to lay down for a while. The others looked at each other without concealing their annoyance with this behaviour.

In the late afternoon they went from the room they shared downstairs to the dining room. Their group had left hours before to see the tourist sights you ought to have seen when you have been in Paris. There was no possibility for a little meal the staff of the hotel told them. They shrugged and went to the nearest Metro station. They decided to visit Montmartre first, for sure they would find something to eat over there.

In the Metro they started a conversation with two girls who were very generous and shared their baguette and camembert with them. The girls insisted that they would visit a concert the next night. The band should be awesome. Vaguely they knew the name, it was a French band that played a sort of symphonic rock music. So an appointment was made, they would meet in front of the tent where the concert would be in.

Montmartre proved to be a bit boring in the opinion of the boys, so they went to a brasserie ordered beer and some snacks and soon felt really okay again. New plans for the evening were made. They would go to Place Pigalle, the red light district of Paris is around this square. They would visit some clubs, just have fun and not being bored by their group at the dinner table.
After visiting some normal bars it got dark and they discussed the situation of one of them. He just found himself a new place but had no glasses. Here in Paris were nice beer glasses nobody had in their own country. They decided to get at least one beer glass from every bar from then on.

Leaving the next bar was almost impossible for them, they both had a laugh fit and went outside while glasses were clinging under their coats. Outside they thought about a logistic problem: how to walk around all the time with these glasses. So a porch in front of very dark house was chosen to drop the glasses over there. When they would feel like going back to the hotel they would collect them again.

Having drunk a few made them bold enough to go to a club. They agreed not to buy champagne, would stick to beer. It would be expensive enough already. The prediction proved to be right, for this price they could drink five beers at home in a bar. But the club was really special!

There was a stage completely draped in red velvet. On this a blond girl in lingerie was sitting on a chair. She seemed to have one duty over there: to look pretty. The young men agreed that she really was attractive, but took better notice of a girl with a darker skin and raven black hair at her feet. This girl really was gorgeous and the less pretty lingerie could not hide this.

After a while one of the young men thought he saw the blond wave at him. He looked questioningly and pointed at himself. The blond nodded and gestured with her finger that he should approach. He went over to the stage and the blond asked him to sit on the edge. She started a conversation: where they came from and such. She made amazed sounds and told him he could sleep with her for only 300 francs. He was quite startled and had to seek for words. This was made even harder by the dark haired girl who sat next to him. She put her hand on his crotch and made encouraging gestures over there. It seemed to be ages before he was able to answer the proposition. He explained that they were students and didn’t have much money to spend.

The blond reacted disappointed and asked if the boys would give her and her girlfriend champagne because they were quite thirsty. The dark girl nodded and played with the buttons on his fly. When he said no, she withdrew her hand like she was bitten by some wild animal. The blond waved the young man away, so he walked a bit awkward back to his friend. Of course he had to explain what had been going on.
Suddenly the club didn’t look that nice. The velvet was a bit worn and they agreed that the blond was wearing a wig. The waiters looked a bit unfriendly and huge. They decided to leave without glasses. Outside they agreed not to try another club but just go to another bar. And they should take a way at least one glass. This was agreed with a sort of oath.

In that bar the price for beer was a bit more normal. Two women came sitting on the stools next to them at the bar. They openly discussed the physics of the young men. Even with their little bit of knowledge of French did they understand. Both women had a fur coat, probably imitation. One had a blood red blouse and the other a blouse with tiger print. After two beers the ladies asked for champagne, instead they gave them a glass of red wine.

The women were having a lot of fun and the youngsters laughed along although not aware what the fun was about. The tiger blouse told them she was going to make one of them very pretty. The red blouse said that this was an excellent idea and while one held his head the other painted his lips red and gave him blue eye shadow. She showed him the result with the mirror on her powder box. It was very pretty indeed!

In the meantime the other young man had put his glass under his coat. But this barman was very attentive and yelled that he had to put the glass back on the bar immediately. And they should leave at once! This leaving lasted to long according to him and suddenly a sort of bulldog appeared which he directed at the boys. They just shouted at the dog that he was very good and sweet. But the dog didn’t understand this and took the shoe of one of them on his mouth and got his teeth through it.
This made very clear that they had to get out quick.

Outside they had a good laugh and decided this would do it for the night. To collect the glasses was the next goal. They wandered around, every street resembled the other and walking into a few porches by gamble didn’t help. The glasses seemed gone forever.
So no beer glasses this time and they should go back to the hotel while they still were able to talk comprehensively. So they walked to a taxi stand. They were lucky, there was one.

Ordering where they had to go proved to be a problem. Both had forgotten the name of the hotel.
So there was a lot of laughter in the back of the car.
The taxi driver got them to tell where the neighbourhood of the hotel was. Very experienced he talked a bit in his walkie talkie and swiftly drove them to the hotel.

When they went upstairs they encountered the group who were going in the direction of the breakfast table. They were looked at with a frown, but just wished them a good morning and went straight to their room.
They took off their coats and the one with the make-up on took a glass from under his sweater.
Laughing out loud they fell asleep fully dressed on their beds.

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