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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Saturday, June 25, 2005

An American Randy Wolf Fan In Paris

I see, from abroad, that the Phillies’ resurgence, as usual, was a mere illusion, as they again tumble away from first place. I haven’t been following too closely – basically, I’m sticking with scores and standings – but since the same thing happens every year, I feel like I’m back in Philly anyway.

Today I have an exam on international economic law, which pretty much killed yesterday as a sightseeing day. We’ve been extremely busy since arriving in Paris, so I haven’t had a chance to see as much as a typical tourist might.

On Tuesday, we took a day trip to Brussels where we visited the European Union. More importantly, I had the Belgian trifecta – waffles, fries, and beer. All three: delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to head over to their museum to see a favorite painting of mine (Rene Magritte’s The Surprise Answer). The museum closed at 5 (what kind of museum closes at 5?), so we were still tied up with edumacational stuff.

I have had the chance to visit the Champs Elysses, the Arc de Triomphe (twice), and the Eiffel Tower (although I didn’t go up it yet). We also saw a Monet museum (don’t remember the exact name of the place), which was near the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where we heard Ambassador Connie Morella speak. We also visited the International Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration.

Basically, it’s been class, visits to international institutions, and a little bit of sightseeing. There’s been a little bit of Paris nightlife, too – last night we visited the Bastille neighborhood, where we found a restaurant with a huge beer list down the street from the karaoke bar.

The karaoke bar was the scene of one of the funnier moments of the trip. One of my friends (after leading the entire bar in a rendition of “I Love Rock And Roll”) began talking to an attractive Frenchwoman. After an extended conversation, she signed the two of them up to sing “Barbie Girl,” by Aqua. She insisted on Europop, I suppose. Suddenly, my friend tells me, “There’s a ring on her finger. Does that mean she’s engaged?”

To find out, I asked her friend, as casually as I could, “In France, do you have the custom with the ring on the fourth finger?” To which she responded, “Oh, her? She’s engaged.”

After a minute of consultation with each other, my friend and I decided, without any adieux, to turn around and literally run out of the bar. And we did. Hey, the metro was about to shut down for the night. Plus, he didn’t want to sing “Barbie Girl.”

Anyway, the weekend should be quite interesting. Following the exam today, there is an elegant dinner cruise on the Seine, followed by a night of clubbing. Then, we’ll be dragging our hungover selves out of bed at 9 a.m. tomorrow, when we’ll pick up a rental Peugeot from Hertz and drive it 140 km to Epernay – home of Moet & Chandon and a number of other Champagne houses. It could be the day trip of a lifetime.

For a good omen, I’m going to wear my Jim Thome jersey while I take my test today.

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