Saturday, March 19, 2005

I Sense A Disturbing Pattern.

The pattern is where I wake up, do something stupid, write about it, go to bed, and repeat the next day. Except then I'd have written more, so maybe I'm a little bit off. The spirit is there, though. The spirit of my idiocy, more precisely, was sitting in the car with me on Wednesday evening at about a quarter past midnight.

Although I suppose I should back up for a minute. Wednesday at work, Laurent invited me to go play billiards with him and his friend Olivier again. Since I had so much fun last time, I readily agreed to go. Laurent, seemingly ignorant of the realities of my commute, left work telling me he'd be meeting me in forty-five minutes, and that I should grab some dinner. My commute takes approximately forty minutes to get me home, much less to billiards or, heaven forbid, dinner. I thought about this after he dashed out the door, and couldn't really come up with a good solution. I elected to, instead, stay at the office and surf the web until an acceptable solution presented itself.

Half an hour later, a solution did just that. Laurent called the office, for some reason thinking I might still be there. Possibly, he knows me. Anyways, they had been running late but could come by the office to pick me up. Procrastination rewarded, yet again.

When we showed up at the billiards club, the place was significantly more crowded than the Tuesday night we were there last. There was a small pool tournament going on, and some people playing French billiards as well. A quick side note: pool, or "American billiards," is played here with balls that are approximately two-thirds the size of our pool balls, and on tables approximately two-thirds the size of our pool tables. I don't have the heart to tell them that their name for it is stupid, because no one plays "American billiards" like that in "America." But I digress. The point is, the place was kind of crowded.

At the center table was a pair playing French billiards. They weren't scoring all that many points, however, which was kind of silly considering they were wearing special pool gloves and had their own cues. I noticed, however, that all of their shots were unnecessarily complicated -- they would hit one ball, and then have their cue ball bounce all around the table before hitting the third ball (or more often than not, missing it by an inch or two). It wasn't until later that the bartender told us they were playing with "trois bandes." That means that after hitting the first ball, the cue ball has to hit three rails before coming back to hit the third ball. And they were only missing by inches. After sixty-some rounds, they each had more than twenty points apiece. It was kind of crazy.

I don't think I've ever gotten more friendly service in any kind of establishment, as a general rule, than since I've been in France. It's rather surprising. At the billiards club, I asked the bartender if he knew anywhere nearby to grab a quick bite to eat. He seemingly didn't understand, so I repeated my question. It was pretty simple, and I was rather sure I hadn't mucked the French up.

Him: "‹Somewhere to eat? I can just make you a sandwich.›"
Me: "‹Is that very far?›"
Him: "‹Is pâté alright?›"
Me: "‹Yes, but where is it?›"

Several minutes later, having given up on eating anytime soon, I was presented with a delicious pâté sandwich. On the house. And three of our eight beers were free, too. I don't know, it was cool. I'm pretty sure he wasn't hitting on me.

I guess I should mention that I played some French billiards, and did so badly. And that's the last I'm going to say of it, because the actual playing was fairly boring if you weren't there. Even if you had been there, my game was pretty uneventful. Short story shorter, I suck at French billiards.

Cooler, however, was the Great Dane that showed up about halfway into the evening. Talk about a sweet dog. He was at least as tall as my waist, and his sad-looking face was also astonishingly goofy. He looked even goofier when some random (extremely short) French guy started dancing with him. Random French Guy (RFG) started by waving his hands around in front of the pooch's (TP) face as if he were raving, occasionally stopping to stretch TP's floppy jowls about in a hilarious manner. TP looked like a poor little clay figure with his face mushed in strange directions, and would then proceed to bat at RFG's faggy twirling hands with his big paws. RFG then started dancing around, grooving his laughably small self around to a nonexistent beat. TP responded by barking and dancing around himself, hopping up on his hind legs and waving his paws. RFG would occasionally grab TP's paws and dance around with him like some kind of disturbing high school hip-hop dance routine. I couldn't stop laughing.

But I guess I should get to the stupid. We left the billiards club around midnight, and this time were not nearly the last ones there. We crammed ourselves into Olivier's car, which was rather full of three guys and two childrens' car seats. In about five minutes, we made it to my door, I hopped out, said goodnight, and headed up to my apartment. As soon as I opened the door, I realized that something was wrong. I wanted to go to my room and turn on instant messenger. My computer was still in my bag in the back seat of Olivier's car.

I ran down the three flights of stairs again, and leapt through the front door. Of course, Laurent and Olivier were nowhere in sight. I ran back up the stairs, out of breath by this point. I'm kind of out of shape. I proceeded to look for Stéphane's cell phone, but he's currently in the island paradise of Mauritius. I woke up Alessandro, only to find that his cell phone is out of minutes. I stole his computer and used Skype to call Laurent. No answer. Olivier works on the complete other side of Marseille, twenty minutes away. I was never going to get my computer back.

Well, I eventually did, but it was a painful couple of days. At work, I actually had to do work. At home, I had to do things like "talk to people" and "sleep." It's amazing how much my life changes when I don't have constant Internet access. And that kind of scares me. But I did get my computer back, so hopefully it'll be another year or two before I'm hopelessly adrift like that. Getting my computer back, of course, entailed taking the subway from the southern end of one Metro line to the northern end of the other one -- just about the most inconvenient commute possible. I suppose it's what I get for being an idiot.

And before I forget, I was standing outside work waiting for the bus Friday afternoon to go pick up my computer when an attractive, snappily-dressed woman wearing a colorful shirt and stylish sunglasses and driving a brand new minivan pulled up to the curb. There was a "TAXI" sign on top of the van. Some dude got in and they drove off. Taxis are so much sweeter here than in Boston.

I'm so behind with this thing. I'm theoretically going to some kind of Brazilian Carnivale celebration today, and picknicking in the Calanques outside Marseille on Sunday. And did you know I went to Paris? I think I forgot to write about it.

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