Reviews of My Life: Paris, France

By Bud Smith

  *     I get off the airplane in Charles De Gaulle and vomit in a bidet. D

*    A mousy girl from Amsterdam, or Bruges or the moon, is walking around the Musee Rodin, grabbing the butt cheeks of all the famous marble or bronze statues, making lewd faces. Her boyfriend is secretly takes photographs of her grabbing these asses, but it doesn’t have to be that much of a secret. The guards are all on their cellphones.The boyfriend has a visible hard on.  A minus

*    Everyone is carrying a baguette. People ride by on pedal bikes or little motorcycles and the baguettes are strapped to their backs, crossed, like two samurai swords. The police lean against the wall smoking cigarettes, uzi in one hand, a baguette tucked under their opposite armpit. B

*    The Eiffel Tower looks better in person than a picture of The Eiffel Tower found on Google Image Search Vs. Mount Rushmore doesn't even look as good in person as it does on a postcard found in a gas station on Route 244, just past Keystone, South Dakota. A

*    There are small cafes everywhere. Some of the small cafes have even smaller cafes in them. These smaller small cafes have microscopic cafes in them too. It keeps going forever like that. Atoms and molecules and theoretical cafe quarks. In the smallest of all cafes, I’m sitting there drunk in the afternoon and another American walks in an orders Steak Tartare without knowing what it is. The uncooked horse meat and egg yoke comes out on a plate and it looks like brains. The woman scoops a small amount of the brains into her mouth and begins to chew and then spits the brains out and yells to the waiter that her food is undercooked. She wants the brains medium well, please, and hurry up, she has somewhere to be. D plus

*    I forgot to go to the cafe where F. Scott Fitzgerald showed Ernest Hemingway his penis and asked if it was an okay penis. And Ernest said, “You are O.K.” I’ve been going to the supermarket and getting ham and brie sandwiches from the cooler instead. It’s O.K. They have Coca-Cola from Belgium there too. Real sugar. C

*    I get in a taxi cab and the radio is on. French jazz, loud and bright and all of Paris zipping by outside the window. The song ends, A new song begins. I like this one even better. We zigzag beneath the Arch d’ Triumph and the French jazz on the radio has piano and drums and trombone and a rubbery stand up bass a and I’m smiling because I’ve never been in Europe before and the sun is streaming glorious white light on blocks of apartments older than Jesus Christ, with people up on the balconies puffing on cigarettes. I decide to move here and learn to play French jazz Then something happens in the song and I realize that the song is an instrumental version of “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel. And I get so angry. I punch the back of the driver’s seat and say, “Five extra euros to kill the Billy Joel.” F

*    Rae looks happy, walking towards me in the rain, and she doesn't have an umbrella. A

*    We walk from bar to bar looking for a beer but have no luck. Numb and sour-stomached from multiple days of drinking wine. We pass a cobblestone alleyway where four men argue in their language. Rae and I stop. We stare. The men shout louder. But then they pause. They step away and each calmly remove their chic very stylish jackets and posh scarves. The men meet in the circle again and begin beating the hell out of each other under the glorious starlight. A punch to the stomach. A kick to the groin. Left cross. Right hook. It goes on for awhile. Hooray. Then everyone is winded and leaning over. In America this is when someone would usually get shot with a handgun. But a garbage truck rolls up to the intersection and begins collecting the trash that is piled on the corner. When the truck leaves, the men are gone from the alley and no one is lying there bleeding. How ‘bout that?  A plus plus plus

*    The guy who rents us the flat on the canal demonstrates how the egg-shaped 2001 A Space Odyssey garbage can works. As he pushes the hidden plastic button, and tosses the hunk of half-eaten baguette in, he’s able to say, “Voilà!” B

*    That guy had a scruffy little dog. As he showed us the flat, the dog kept jumping on me and I pet him to be friendly and the dog got an erection, too. Rae thought it was great, because I was just so dumb and friendly to this sexed up French dog and I didn’t realize about the dog dick. “Voilà!” she said, pointing to the dog dick. The guy had on a black turtleneck and his flat looked like a Crate and Barrel catalogue if all the captions had a bunch of extra x’s in them. The dog with the erection was named Pierre. Pierre ran down the steps and into the basement of the flat and took a disgusting shit because Pierre mostly eats cheese. The guy in the turtle neck pulled a hose out of the closet and sprayed the floor down, washing the dog shit down a big drain in the middle. He said: “Voilà: this used to be a bath house before Hitler. In some ways we are lucky. In other ways we are not.”  B minus

*    I order snails in butter with mushrooms and I eat a little of the snails and whatever it doesn’t taste that bad for a slimy insect. Rae comes back from the bathroom and I say yum yum, this is good shit and I feed her some of the snails and she doesn't know it’s snails. The candles are flickering and the manager is streaming a playlist off Spotify consisting of the Greatest Hits of Accordion to Play in Your Cafe That’s Not Too Far From All The Famous Stuff. And I can’t take it, I start laughing and Rae says all loud, “What’s so funny?” I say, I’m sorry I tricked you, do you know what you ate? She says, “Snails, you dumbass!” And the waiter walks over and says, “Are you American?” And I say, “No we are not American. We are from New Jersey. America kicked out New Jersey a long time ago.” He brings a bottle of wine. He sets it down. No charge. A plus

*    Moulin Rouge translates to red windmill. We look it up on Wikipedia and then don’t go there. Originator of that stupid can can dance. The girls have worn underwear since WWI. Total rip off. D

*    There’s catacombs underneath the city where a million skulls are piled up to make the walls. We don’t get to see the millions of human skulls because the catacombs are closed for a private event. Maybe someone is getting married on top of all those millions of human skulls. And it’s beautiful, but we are not invited. So we go see this quaint little shop with poached rhinos, and poached tigers, and poached peacocks, and poached polar bears, and even a poached lion, its head so big a person could climb inside and get married if they wanted. But we are already married. And life hurts like a sweet kiss. C

*    The woman in the wine shop can speak English, German, Dutch, Japanese, un petite Chinese, Swedish, Spanish, and French, but unfortunately she cannot speak New Jersey, so I just point at the big bottle next to her head and say, “Gimme gimme gimme.” C plus

*    The next hotel room we get is so small that the suitcase can’t even fit in the room. They have to keep the suitcase at the front desk. There’s not a lock for the room because when you have the Murphy bed down, the door won’t even open anyways. If the bed is up, someone could break in to attack you, theoretically but there is barely space to be attacked. So it’s safe. You can’t get robbed either, because there’s no space for possessions. What the room does have is a strong stink of flowery perfume and lovely mint green wallpaper and a window that opens, overlooking the most beautiful street you’ve ever looked out on, though it is a perfectly ordinary street, just like all the others. You wake up hungry and walk barefoot down the stairs and talk to the clerk at the desk. You say, “Can I have my shoes? I think I’ll walk over to the cafe inside the cafe inside the cafe and eat some more brains. They are lovely.” B

*    I’m tricked into going to three museums. Each museum is so good that I know each piece of artwork, and have known it since kindergarten, though I can’t name the pieces, nor the artist. The art at these museums is so world famous, that I have even seen the porn parodies of the art it includes. I have seen the clip of the people fucking the impressionist cotton candy sunset; and I have seen the clip of the people fucking the slightly smug mouth of the enigmatic portrait of someone else’s wife; and I have seen the clip of the people fucking at, in, on the Gates of Hell, cumming on top of the Thinker; and fucking the armless Goddess of Love; and then fucking the headless messenger of Zeus; and even seen the clip of the people doggy-styling the entire revolution as it raises the flag and declares victory over the old King, no longer head cheese. Sleep tight, we got this, Vive la liberté. B

*    They have a tiny Statue of Liberty on the river and I like it better than ours. It looks like one of those miniature liquor bottles they give you on an airplane. Except it doesn't get you drunk it gets you free. A

*    A lady and a small child are walking across a bridge spanning the Seine. The child and the lady are dressed exactly the same. It is like the child is a trick of the light, reflected from the lady, the same way the world is a trick of the light reflected on the river below. Behold, I am watching a boat cruise along full of laughing people and I don’t know any other way to get on the boat other than jump from the bridge to land on the boat. But that might frighten everyone. The crying gets louder as the lady and the child are coming my way and I turn to look at them. The lady is smoking a cigarette and admirably stone faced and ignoring the child. The child cries harder. Suddenly the woman throws her cigarette over the railing and spins to face the child. “ENOUGH!” she yells and ENOUGH echoes all across quiet and tranquil Europe. It shakes the walls and rattles the chandeliers. Plaster falls in the tiny rooms. People sleeping in the largest doorways ever built by man, are woken up from their afternoon naps and they lick their dry lips and look around at the street and wonder why. But the child stops crying, her eyes clear and she takes a new breath. The lady says, “Merci boku, mon petit moi.” Pats her little head. Lights a new cigarette. Ah behold, here is a new boat passing below, a new chance for me. I lean over the railing and wonder if I can time it just right. A plus


Bud Smith reports from Jersey City, NJ. Twitter: @bud_smith He wrote F250, Calm Face, and Dustbunny City, among others. He works heavy construction, and lives in Jersey City, NJ.