I’ve been trying to get my husband, Ryan, to go to Paris with me for years. Horrible stories about rudeness, free-roaming cats, and lack of attention to what we Americans would consider proper food handling and hygiene had turned him off of the French.
But on a business trip last year he found himself having dinner in a centuries-old farmhouse in Bordeaux. And he tasted the bread. And that marvelous French butter.
And I think the experience may have piqued his interest.
Of course, he’s also traveled to many places in the past decade: Norway and Korea, Germany and England, Australia and Japan – he’s become accustomed to, adept even, at embracing different cultures with grace (or at the very least, professional patience). Some of these places we’ve been able to visit together. But Paris wasn’t yet one of them.
A Surprise for Zazie
On our first date – nearly 13 years ago – we’d sat at the B&O on Capitol Hill, ate cake, and chatted about our favorite books. He said I reminded him of Zazie, the eponymous heroine of Raymond Queneau’s Zazie dans le Metro.
Zazie is a potty-mouthed, smarty-pants little girl who on a visit to her uncle in Paris for the weekend only wants to do one thing – ride the metro.
But the metro is on strike.
This, naturally, pisses Zazie off to no end.
“Oh, the dirty bastards!” Zazie exclaims. “Oh, the buggers! To think they’d pull a trick like that one me! . . . Oh shit, it gives me a real pain.”
Ryan said that the book was hard to find, and that he would procure me a copy. Procure he did, and presented it to me 2 days later on our next date. (He’d had it overnighted from San Francisco.)
A few years later I found out that the book had been adapted into a film and directed by Louis Malle.
I called local gem, Scarecrow Video, and by coincidence, they had just procured a large inventory and had a copy on VHS which I bought and gave to Ryan.
Zazie dans le Metro was recently released by Criterion, and I dropped a hint on Facebook – something of the ZOMG! variety.
Ryan had been informed by his friend, Kristofor, that whenever a woman posts something on the social networking site with a link and a ZOMG! that means she wants it. So – a none too subtle hint it was.
For my birthday, which, by the way, is also the national French independence celebration, Bastille Day, I received a beautiful copy of the film. I hugged it to my chest and said, “Oh, Ryan. Will you promise to go to Paris with me someday?”
“Even though you don’t like the French?”
“Yes, Jen. I promise I will go to Paris with you someday.”
Not believing him in the least I proceeded to check out the interior material of my new DVD. Nestled inside was an envelope addressed to “Zazie.” The card read “Meet me in Paris” and then had the dates 6 December – 13 December.
I couldn’t believe it!!!!! On y va!
*Illustrations by Jacqueline Duheme from Olympia Press edition of Zazie dans Le Metro.