Even when you have two balconies, offering opposing sixth-floor (worth the walk-up) views of the rooftops of Paris off the Boulevard Voltaire, and your own personal Lefty bookstore just down the street, you can still have days that just don't start off right, writes Paul Ben-Itzak.
Trying to check my dwindling bank account the other morning while fighting a losing battle against the not at all comfy desk chair in my airy summer lodgings, I kept being diverted by the Citibank site to the page called 'does not exist.'
When it finally became existential, it confirmed that I had enough remaining for cat food -- Mimi, my bi-color eyed white Texan, was so pissed off that I'd reduced her to "Leader Price" saumon et thon that she'd knocked the China bowl crashing to the floor (I'd put it on the table to avoid the ants).
My numbers issues weren't over as Descartes, still cited as the source code for French thinking, apparently wasn't big on math. First it took one cashier -- over at the Leader Price near Pere Lachaise -- then one supervisor and one manager to get neither the price nor my change right for the two for one bags of Friskies boeuf and poulet; only my American persistence when it comes to money (see Henry James's "The American") got me the full 12 cents due, but not before a language detour in which the supervisor demanded, "You're Portuguese, right?"
The cheese guy at the Alexandre Dumas outdoor market, by contrast, couldn't stop apologizing after he confused a 50-cent piece with the one Euro change due for my 1.42 slice of bleue d'Auvergne (appropriately for anything hailing from that region located somewhere in the middle of BFF, the poor man's Roquefort).
(More typical is the confusion between the one and two Euro coins, which are almost identical and either one of which could be confused with the short-lived Susan B. Anthony dollar. As the French and Belgians continue to argue about the new 2.50 piece -- those devious Belges neatly circumnavigated the French veto of their special edition 2 Euro coin commemorating the bicentennial of Waterloo, which the French lost, by utilizing an obscure E.U. law which allows member states to issue without need of approval coins in new denominations -- my only concern is that its size is distinct.)
All these banking histories left me with just enough time to hit the post (note to Internet monitors: it's a turn of speech) for the envelope of flea meds my beautiful mother (belle mere) had shipped from San Francisco which the postman leaving the notice had insisted was 'too voluminous' to leave in the mailbox (not true; I tested), rush home down the rue Robert & Sonia Delaunay and through the park Damia (even if the uniformity of the Euro money -- Belgian deviants notwithstanding -- banished French currency celebrating the Little Prince ((50 francs)) and Cezanne ((200)), at least French streets are still named after artists.
When can we get a lower Manhattan alley named after Stuart Davis? Who were 'Duane' and 'Reade' anyway?) and open all the windows, tying Mimi to her leash so she couldn't fly off the balcony in pursuit of the cat-sized pigeon that alighted there the other day less than two feet from where she was taking her afternoon siesta, so I could air the flat out before the arrival of E., the friend of F., the woman I'm subletting from, on the off-chance she wanted to come upstairs for a glass of water after picking up the plant medicine to ship to F. in Chili.
I'd offered to bring it downstairs for her, in theory to save her mounting the seven flights but in actuality because between running around to shows and scouring the vide greniers (neighborhood-wide garage sales; vide = empty, greniers = attics) for better running around shoes I'd let the flat fall into presque Bukowskian disarray, absent the cigar butts and empty wine bottles. Of course, E. turned out to be a drop-dead Latin knock-out, and I'd blown my chance to get better acquainted.
The moral being that if you don't clean up your nest you'll never bag your pigeon.
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About Paul Ben-Itzak and The Dance Insider: Established in 1998 in New York City and edited principally from Paris & the Dordogne since 2001, The Arts Voyager & Dance Insider provides a uniquely Franco-American inside view of Arts & Culture in Paris, New York, and throughout the United States and the world, with special emphases on insider reviews and travelogues. The longest running arts magazine with content published exclusively online, the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider, publishing daily at http://www.danceinsider.com, is edited by Paul Ben-Itzak, a veteran foreign correspondent who previously covered culture and equities for Reuters, the New York Times, and many others. Paul also publishes Art Investment News, at http://www.artinvestmentnews.com, specializing in illustrated critical coverage of art exhibitions and auctions, focusing on art on auction for less than $100,000.