Travel

An American in Paris: Part 2

Vue-aérienne-Salon-du-Bourget-20151Sleep came easy on my first night in France. I was out seconds after my head hit the pillow and woke up 7 hours later, as fresh as could be expected. I was a little worried about the hotel before I came, but it’s good enough for the week. Everything I’ve ever experienced in Europe is always smaller than the U.S. Hotel rooms, elevators, beds, closets, bathrooms, showers, roadways, everything is smaller and narrower than what Americans are used to. One of the few benefits of being a vertically challenged guy is that this doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people. I don’t mind too much.

What I do mind is the lack of an iron and ironing board in the room. I’ve complained about this before when I travel outside of the country. I know, I’m anal. When I traveled to Asia years ago, I looked like a fucking slob everywhere I went because I had no iron. I haven’t find these standard in any room I’ve ever been outside of the U.S. I have to accommodate as a result. I bring a small travel iron with me, but it’s basically a glorified steamer and takes me fucking forever just to iron one shirt. What does this hotel have instead? A small closet on the first floor with an ironing board and an iron on a timer. You set the timer, put water in the iron, and press those wrinkles away. And there’s a line out the door for people waiting to iron. It’s the worst, but I make do.

This was Day 2 in France, Day 1 at the Paris Air Show. Getting to the show from our hotel is quite the adventure. Thank God we don’t have to drive because I was lost one turn outside of our hotel. We took all back roads to get to the show because of traffic on the highway. We got in, but it was hot. It only got worse.

No doubt about it, the theme of the day was the oppressive heat both inside and outside at the Air Show. It was about 90 degrees outside and very humid. The inside was the same. I hate humid weather. I hate it with a passion. I especially despise it when I have to wear a suit and tie all day. I don’t like wearing a suit under normal conditions. I’m like a 40-year-old boy who hates playing dress up. I often fantasize about being famous, like Kevin Smith for example, who is never expected to dress up for anything. It would just be my thing; I’m always in a T-shirt with either jeans or shorts. But I’m not famous, so I have to wear a suit and tie to the Paris Air Show in this awful heat.

I didn’t want to move all day. I would slowly walk around and try to find little pockets of cold air somewhere, but I usually failed. For some reason only the French know, the air conditioning was not turned on. People were sweating like pigs. I kept wiping my brow, flapping my jacket for some armpit breeze, and drinking 5 gallons of water. It was so bad. Everyone was uncomfortable. You know it’s bad when the guys from India are complaining about the heat inside. What made it even worse was that I left an important item at home. I usually forget one thing per trip and this time it was my deodorant. As a result, I was constantly assessing my potential odor. I’d waft my jacket towards my nose to see if I detected any nasty B.O. I was incredibly self-conscious and in my own head, but I didn’t notice anything offensive.

There was one display at the show that I wish every show had. Around noon, there was a small area with a refrigerated table. On it, they had cases full of fresh oysters. A guy was behind the table shucking them and setting them up. I just happened to walk by as he started this. I thought, no way this is free, but it was. I spent 5 minutes slurping up fresh oysters with a little squeeze of lemon. Magnificent. I went back to our booth and told a bunch of people about it, but no one went over. They all looked at me like I was nuts. Free oysters, come on!

The ride home was the perfect capper to a hot and sticky day. A charter bus filled to the brim with Air Show attendees and no working air conditioning. What a great way to ride back. We were all drenched by the time we got to the hotel. I immediately jumped in my small shower, washed myself with my small hand towel, and dried myself with my tiny, wafer-thin towel. I was still sweating after all that.

Drinks and dinner were fun. We found another nice place in Roissy, which is the village we’re staying in. I had veal cutlets for dinner and sucked down a few glasses of suds. Eating outside at 9:30 or 10 at night, where’s still a little sunlight left is a great advantage that France has. I love eating and drinking outside. It makes me very happy. Doing it with family is even better, but this was pretty good.

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