On Hoodlums and Viking Funerals
Since my last blog post, I’ve received only one rejection. I currently have somewhere between five and seven stories still out there awaiting responses. That’s a frustrating state, but if no news is good news, damn, that’s some seriously good news.
In the past ten days, I’ve completed another short story which I’m not entirely stoked about, so that one is marinating in my computer while I work on other things. There’s something decent about it, so I’ll come back to it before the end of February. I began work on a second short story which I’d like to complete before the end of this week. It’s more action-packed than the first, so with effort and determination, this is a realistic goal. I’d also like to put that one out into the world before the end of February. These two aforementioned stories take place in Paris, which has thus far not been the setting for any of my fiction in 2015. I thought I’d give it a whirl, since I live here and all, but meh.
After these two short stories are completed and edited and sent out to be rejected, I will begin working on a short story that takes place in America. This one will be about a modern day Viking Funeral. The idea was inspired by a recent email chain with The Bestie, in which we argued over which one of us will die first (I will, no, I will), and then she gave me a deadline (for the story, not for dying). Have I mentioned that The Bestie works for The Daily Planet? Well, she does.
While it might sound as though I’m making progress, you should know I’ve put forth zero effort on my novel in the past ten days. I have, however, walked under the Eiffel Tower, sat at a café in Saint Germain, danced well into the night on the Ile Saint-Louis, lallygagged along the Seine, dawdled in the Luxembourg Gardens, and drank margaritas in Le Marais. It’s tough being a writer in Paris, what with so many distractions.
The following is not a short story, but rather a true account of my run-in with three French teenaged boys yesterday. I was taking the Metro home from the Farm Show (yeah, I was at a Farm Show) when this debacle took place. It goes like this:
I was standing at a pole on Ligne 6, one of the few elevated Metro lines, with a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower, headed toward the swanky 16th Arrondissement, chatting with my American friend, when one member of The Motley Gang of Three French Teenaged Boys stood up and got in my face and said, "You speak English?" :::: :::dramatic pause here::: :::: I said "Yes?" (with the question mark), and they all laughed. He sat back down and then the boys made loud, obnoxious jokes about "Tupac," “Kanye," and “Nike,” as if I couldn’t understand them. When I made eye contact with them, they held my stare (particularly one of them who seemed the least afraid of me) for a good thirty seconds at a time. (I always won the staring contest; I’ve been winning staring contests for decades).
In the meantime, the Metro Ligne 6 got more crowded at each stop between Passy and Étoile, and there were now several other adults standing with me and my American friend. The boys continued to sit there making jokes, despite that French culture calls for them to offer their seats to more senior members of society. While I certainly hate to think of myself as a Madame rather than a Mademoiselle, there was at least one senior standing among us who would have benefitted from a seat.
Finally, I had enough of this teenager bullshit (I have teenaged sons, people; I have lots of teenaged sons), and I surprised myself when I said to one of the boys (the one who seemed the least afraid): "Does your Mother speak English?" I thought the boys were going to collectively shit their pants. He said, "Yes." I raised my eyebrows at him and he corrected himself, "Only a little." So I continued, "Your mother is probably my age, right?" He said, "Yes, peut être (maybe)." And I said, "If someone were disrespecting your mother the way you are disrespecting me, would that make you sad?” Something got lost in translation, so he looked at his buddy, who gave it to him in French, and then he said, "Yes, that would make me sad." I offered the classic French Pppppffffttttt and looked away, noticing the other Parisian adults standing with me and my American friend were smiling, which doesn’t happen often in this city. That was the highlight of my day.
No, that wasn’t the highlight of my day. The highlight of my day was when the twenty-something adorable French cheesemonger at the Farm Show flirted with me and offered me delicious bries and bleus and comptés and chèvres to taste and take home (the cheeses, people, take home the cheeses). Look, when you’re a forty-three year old married lady who gets crotchety with teenagers on the Metro, you get to pretend the 20-something cheesemonger at the Farm Show thought you were cute, ok?
No wait, that wasn’t the highlight of my day, either. The real highlight of my day happened when I strolled past two firetrucks on Avenue Ternes, loaded to the gills with young,
buff, motivated Pompiers, who were about to embark on a serious life saving activity which likely involved climbing six or seven flights of Haussmannian stairs. This was the highlight of my day because have you ever seen Les Pompiers it reminded me that French teenaged boys who admit to being sad if someone were to disrespect their mother have a good chance of one day becoming a Pompier, so maybe I did Paris a service when I stood at a pole on the Metro Ligne 6 and put three would-be Americanized hoodlums from the 16th Arrondissement in their place. After all, the world could always use another Pompier and one less hoodlum in the 16th Arrondissement.
I have my Writers Workshop tonight in Le Marais. I’ve really grown to love this thing. I’m not sure I get anything out of it (No, I do), but somehow I feel more like a writer, as opposed to the wife of an American business executive, when I attend. I’m required to read and critique three shorts before tonight, and I have to make a third trip to the Prefecture in the 17th to pick up my renewed residence card (those of you who’ve lived in Paris can make several guesses why it takes three trips, and any of of those guesses would be correct).
So, I’m not sure how much writing I can accomplish today. The good news is, there’s always tomorrow. And if tomorrow never comes, there’s always my Viking Funeral.