Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just Kind Of Living Here

The last forty eight hours are probably interesting only to me, but since I am probably the only one reading this stuff, that is an extremely good reason to document them. Nothing entertains me more than reading stories about my own adventures.

Yesterday was a day of some discovery. The fact that Paris is a series of wedges with streets all heading to several common confluences and important interstitial streets webbing them together came into play for me yet again.

I like to go to the Marais. I like it for several reasons, the two most dominant being that I love the medieval feel of the place, especially at night, and I really like the falafel sandwiches at Chez Marianne on rue des Rosiers (one of those interstices between the wedges). I have never been exactly clear where rue de Rosiers is or how to get there. I could study the map until I was blind. The actual doing of going to Chez Marianne always ended up being a sort of hopeful flinging of myself in the general direction of Place de la République and looking for the building with the mosaic of the horse. If and when I saw that I could generally find my way. (The horse mosaic is quite old and has nothing to do with whatever it is that they do in that building in today's world; in a previous time it marked the place as a market for horse meat.)

Yesterday all that may have changed, assuming I can remember what I learned yesterday, which is another good reason for me providing this documentation: assuming that I can remember the URL to my blog (no mean feat, and not a foregone conclusion) I can always go read this and refresh my memory when the desire for a falafel sandwich strikes.

Anyway, what happened was (or is it is?) that for no apparent reason I decided to cross to the mainland via Pont Louis Philippe. Actually there may be a subliminal reason. I have always liked Louis Philippe. He was the last King of France and he served more or less at the will of the people and ruled as a constitutional monarch. His being there at the will of the people can be illustrated by the fact that he ceased being king in 1848 when mobs of those people didn't will him to be king any more. He styled himself "the people's King". He spoke English fluently with an American accent and both of his sons were colonels in the Union army in the American Civil War.

So I crossed Pont Louis Philippe. Once on the right bank I was, to no surprise of mine, on rue Louis Philippe. I was beginning to notice a certain atypical symmetry to the lay of the streets. I pressed on because one of the objectives of the walk was to see if I could find a better grocery than the one I had so far been able to find in my new quartier. Then the significant thing happened. Rue Louis Philippe had suddenly changed to rue Vieux du Temple which is the street that I always set out to find because it is the street off of which rue des Rosiers branches. There was Les Philosophes just where it always was, once I ever found rue Vieux du Temple, and just beyond was rue des Rosiers. I suddenly not only knew how to get there, but I had cut the transit time by about three quarters. What a windfall, if only I could remember what I had discovered.

I had an appointment to meet Thierry, my landlord, and four of his other longer term tenants for tea at a four star hotel located just off the forecourt of Eglis St. Sulpice.

Since it was a four star hotel – I can't remember the name – I decided I should wear decent clothes. So I donned my grey slacks, a light blue broadcloth button down shirt ( the kind I used to wear when I was acting sartorially wild and crazy in my IBM days) and planned to wear my navy blue blazer once had I put on my tie. I had brought three beautiful – I think – Hermes ties, inherited from my father in law, and picked the one that seemed just right for the occasion. I spent close to thirty years working for IBM in the days when suit, white shirt (except on wild and crazy light blue broadcloth days) wingtips and tie were the uniform of the day every day. Much like when I was in the Air Force, that was ok with me; I never shared my peers' need to get into "civies" (term used both in USAF and IBM) the minute the business day was done when we were on business trips and would meet in the bar prior to dinner. So I have tied a lot of ties in my day.

To my – I guess it was – horror, I flat couldn't tie the thing. The cross of the two pieces, followed by the first wrap all seemed to be right, but whatever the next step might be just wouldn't come. And what it was that I had done, that had seemed familiar and correct left me with a configuration that no amount of inventive and creative looping, twisting and flopping could turn into anything but a lump, not a knot. I felt like an idiot, or someone who had finally jumped feet first into total abject senility. I worked at it for about ten minutes. At about the three or four minute point I began to wonder if I could Google "four in hand" and find a video or directions of how to do it. I decided that even if there was such a thing, which I assumed that there must be, the idiosyncrasies of needing a mirror and trying to describe what needed to be done accommodating those idiosyncrasies would make any tutorial incomprehensible.

At the ten minute mark I decided incomprehensible or not I would look for that tutorial.

And I did. And I found one. And it actually worked (they said to throw the big part over the little part twice but I never do that, which is why my tie is always too long; but I prefer too long to too big a knot). In a couple moments I was tied coated and on my way out the door to the hotel by St Sulpice.

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