Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Warning: Writing while hungover.

My friend and I postponed our Monday night date until last night, her LAST night in France. We did the same thing as last time. We met at the Smoking Dog and I ordered a brune. As we swapped how-was-your-day rundowns, I gulped the bitter yumminess in my glass and wondered why I wasn't getting a buzz. Probably because I've been boozing up a little lately. But about half way through the glass, it hit me. That calm, that deep sigh, that smile. When the glass was empty, I was tapping the bottom for the extra drops. SO good. I love beer. Not the horse piss most people drink--sorry to be a snob and whatnot--but the thick, rich, TANGIBLE beer you almost have to chew to swallow. That's the good stuff.

She grabbed her bag and said, "Hey, I got a present for you!" It was a book of ALL THE OUTDOOR MARKETS IN LYON AND THE SURROUNDING AREA!!! DUDE!!! Now, THAT'S a present!!! I hungrily flipped through it, excited that there were little icons next to each place saying whether or not they were organic, if they sold clothing, etc. etc. How cool!!!

My beer was long gone, so we figured that since the rain wasn't acting like it was going to let up, we might as well move our tushes on down the pedestrian street to eat... I got to pick the resto this time and was really looking forward to my favorite menu.

But just next door, my friend ducked into this little gift shop. The whole place smelled like lavender--a smell that used to bug me but now makes me happy. There were little typically French painted tea cups and other little trinkets. On the back wall, there was a set of shelves with lots of different herbs and oils. I hadn't been particularly interested in the store up until that point. I'm not much into trinkets these days, so I was mostly tipsily humoring my friend. But, I've been looking for some tea tree oil to put in my cloth diaper wipe box to keep them from mildewing. I scanned the bottles of oils with not much hope. The second I open my mouth to off-handedly mention to my friend that I'm looking for it, I see it!!! YAY!!! I was so excited!!! I never thought I'd be able to find something so obscure here. As I was gushing and paying for it, the storekeeper warned me that whenever looking for plant oils, I need to make sure and look to see that the Latin name for the plant is written on the bottle.

Just as we were about to walk when she stopped to look at this small round dish with little bumpy lines on the bottom of it. "Ooooh, I'm gonna get you this."

"What is it?" I asked, almost certainly a little too loudly.
"It's an aillade."
"The hell's an aillade?"
"You take your garlic and rub it on these little bumps and it sort of shreds your garlic. That way, you don't have to press it or chop it up."
"Rock ON!" And I meant it! First of all, it's just plain pretty. Second, I frickin' HATE having to chop up my garlic and I'm too lazy to get the food processor out (which, incidentally, is still in the boat on its way here), clean it, etc. just for a little chopped garlic, but I LOVE fresh garlic. What a simple and cool idea, this aillade thingy.

We sat and ordered dinner. I, of course, got the same thing as always--the salade lyonnaise (salad greens, lardons--a bacon/ham type thingy, croutons, vinaigrette and a poached egg on top), quenelle de brochet (fish dumpling with lobster sauce) and a bottle of rose wine. We laughed and joked about how earlier she had walked by the resto to make sure they'd have mousse au chocolat and that she hadn't seen it written anywhere... I assured her they DID have my fave dessert and that she was in for a treat.

When the food came, I was a little let down. My salad, though the greens were better than her resto's salad, was really salty. I don't know if it's always that way and my mouth was just super sensitive because of the beer or if the cook was just having a bad night or something, but I was like, dude... make me look bad in front of my friend, yo. She took "French" onion soup which is, as you probably know, soup with big chunks of bread in it, covered with cheese and baked. We swapped plates for a minute and I just LOVED it... She agreed that my salad was salty. Grrr....

Same with the quenelles. They were good, but they were slightly more burnt than usual--a little black just adds to the flavor, but you could actually taste BURN last night. And the rice is usually a saffroned rice, but last night it was not. And it was kinda greasy. *sigh* Must be new management or a new cook or something. Sucks!

However, at the end, we both ordered our mousse au chocolat and it was TOTALLY worth all of the saltiness of the rest of the meal. In fact, she wolfed hers down and threatened to steal mine if I didn't hurry up. But I was determined to take my time and savor every single tiny bite of it. GOT to learn how to make it like that.

The coffee. Can I just tell you about the coffee? No. I can't. I really don't have words. It's a physical, SENSUAL reaction, y'all. There's nothing I can compare it to. It makes what we drink in the States--not just the substance itself but the practice of imbibing watered-down, flavorless liquid all day long instead of sitting and drinking one teensy morsel of GOOD coffee--seem like liquid plastic. I avoided using Sam's espresso machine in the States because I was nursing and because I didn't want to get all addicted and whatnot, but all that's over now. I have been converted again. I'm still nursing a little (in spite of Lolo's new spikey gums !!!), but she'll just have to deal with the caffeine. Sorry, Sweetie! Oh, well, now that she's sprouting teeth, the sippy cup is about to become her new boob.

Afterwards, we went back to the Smoking Dog, like last time, for a quick pint and a long goodbye. We sat and gabbed for a little while but the place started to get crowded. When these two girls asked if anyone was sitting with us, my friend invited them to join us and we scooted around the table. The whole bar was about to participate in their Tuesday night trivia contest.

Listen, here's the truth: I was too drunk for trivia. I looked up at the clock and saw that it was nine o'clock. My friend had wanted to already be home by that time, so I knew that she wouldn't be around much longer. I didn't want to go home yet. And I didn't want her to go home yet, either. I slapped a Euro down on the table to we could play trivia. But my friend was like, I gotta go. You stay here and play trivia with these two chicks. She gave me two really great squeezy hugs and left me.

*sigh* I know she had to go. And I'm glad she did cuz she had to get up really early this morning to catch her plane. But I was having so much fun being a grown up on the town with no kids!!!

Also, I know that she was doing her best to take care of me by trying to introduce me to strangers--and I was into it at first--but she just diappeared. and it was like, once the lingering smell of her perfume was gone (not LITERALLY or anything... I don't think she was even wearing perfume) the fun of being in the bar went with it. I filled the trivia sheet with the girls as someone blurted the questions out in both English and French, but like I said, I was too drunk and too clueless to do any good. On a couple of questions, I cheated and texted both Sam and my friend, but neither one of them answered. And THEN, once the sheet was filled and while we waited to hear the answers, they started toalking to each other. After all, they had come there togethere and were friends. At first, I tried to listen to their conversation as though I were a part of it. But because of the booze and noise, I couldn't understand anything they were saying. After a few minutes, I just looked away.

It was then that I started to really drink in my surroundings. Bad, bad, bad. The bar was full of young-ish, hip, laughing people. I felt like I was at a zoo. I was interested but disconnected. This was a different species of being. I realized that I looked really out of place. Then, I started to think about what I had talked about with these girls. And remembered their faces when they heard that I had three kids. Three SMALL kids. A ten-month-old.

What the HELL was I doing in this bar, with these people? I spotted a few older chickens around the room. They were getting drunk and seemed to be eyeing the meat around the room... Like they were waiting to see who was going to be drunk and need to share a cab home. Grody. My leg started to shake, my knee bobbing up and down. Dude, let's have it with the answers to the trivia already.

Luckily, I didn't have to wait long. The other two girls and I reconnected just long enough to applaud our correct answers and to high-five that we had come in at fourth place. But soon thereafter, I said, "Well, that was fun. Maybe see you some other Tuesday." They wished me a good night and I took off, almost at a run... I guess that whole scene made me confront my age... Blah.

The freedom and exhileration I felt last time I walked home was gone. Now, I felt old, fat, boring, ugly and alone. And I felt unsafe. I was drunker this time than last... I don't know why. And this time, I was walking home alone and I wasn't sure if I could remember how to get back to familiar pathways. So, I walked fast, making sure to square my shoulders and furrow my brow so I wouldn't invite danger. Like riding a bike. All my old reflexes came back... the ones that used to keep me from getting mugged back when I lived as a student in the North of France.

I heard music. I didn't follow it on purpose, but I found myself at the little plaza just in front of the Opera. There's a little cafe/bar there with outdoor tables and last night, there was a band playing and a whole lot of tables full of peeps listening. There was also some chick doing, like, interpretive dance or something. She looked stoned to me, but I wasn't about to criticize their groupie dancer girl in MY state. I listened and watched and bounced to the music a little. It really was nice. There was a pair of guitars, one sounded accoustic and the other electric and there might have been a wind or wood instrument. I don't know because there was a small partitian where the band was. After that song was over, the dancing girl walked over to her shoes, slipped 'em on, grabbed a bag and walked away into the night. So, it was just some random girl.

It made me wanna go up there and dance. I didn't, don't worry. I wasn't THAT drunk.

After a few minutes of the next song, I looked around and realized that the only people watching (who were not sitting at a table) were couples, homeless people drinking beer and me. I pursed my lips and began walking.

When the streets started to look familiar, I slowed down a little, not so carried along by my alert senses. And becuase the way home was so well lit, I stumbled along taking pictures of myself with my phone (um, those will NOT make it to the blog, sorry... not so flattering). While I was taking one picture, I got a text message from my friend's mom (she had been using her mom's phone all week) saying that my friend was sleeping... She didn't say it explicitly, but I imagined I heard a disapproving tone.

Sam was still up when I got home. The futon was still a couch which annoyed me, but I was glad he was up.

I fell asleep naked and drunk, not even bothering to go in search of a nightgown. But toothy baby woke up right about then and wanted to sleep with us. Again, sleep is an exaggeration as she tossed and turned all night again. And even when she was sleeping, she kept hitting or kicking me. I finally pushed her over by Sam, put my body pillow up as a barrier, turned over and went to sleep. A fitful night to say the least.

This morning I was very glad Sam had bought the espresso maker.


Yesterday when Sam went to pick Ryan up, they told him that Ryan would be going to a lake today (can you see my eyes bulging) and that he would need swim arms, a suit, sunscreen, etc. So, Ryan was excited about going to his "surprise" at school today. I have been mortified all day long (as mortified as one can be while hungover) thinking of him riding in a bus with someone other than one of us driving. People drive like crazy over here. And fast. And he won't have his booster seat. And, and, and... And his swim arms are old and should have been replaced. And what if he tries to go off on his own and gets hurt or drowns or, or, or...

*deep breath*

Smoke detector, smoke detector, smoke detector, smoke--what? That's something someone told me used to work for him when he didn't wanna, you know, ahem.... too early... You know? Like put it out of your mind?

Get this... NEXT week, they're taking him to one of those drive-thru safari zoo thingies. I might be MORE stressed out with him gone than when he's here.

I'm gonna go take a nap.


emjanes said...

France sounds fun! Makes me want to come back for a visit :)

Rachel said...

Sounds like you are having so much fun! I want to come have fun too! Miss ya.

Joelie said...

You guys come on over!!! (Okay, maybe wait until the end of September when we have our ship shipment--and our guest bed, LOL!)

Erin said...

love you long time! i never fear for your safety....remember the time you spent the night in the phone booth and made it through unscathed? you never cease to amaze me. wasn't that in lyon, btw?

emjanes said...

Your title makes me think of bridget jones's diary. And the coffee. Your description makes my mouth water!