Thursday, March 27, 2008
FISH HEADS AND ASSHOLES - DAY 90
Today marks my three month anniversary of moving to Paris. Between the mix of traveling and having a stream of friends stay at our apartment, I feel I've only dipped my big toe into this city.
Now I want to stick my face in it and open my eyes.
Yesterday, after a most annoying 7.5 hours spent yelling at my computer and trying in vain to upload the latest Les Alpes video installment (I have not given up), FB and I went to dinner. I had but one request. FISH. I wanted grilled whitefish. No sauce. No butter. Just grilled fish and vegetables. Having gorged myself on a mixed medley of red meats and cheeses for weeks on end, I yearned for a simple piece of whitefish sans le gravy, merci.
We found a nice place by Odeon and I smiled in anticipation as I ordered my grilled fish. Just as I was sitting back sinking into Frenchness, the aural missile entered my left ear like an unexpected A-bomb. "I THINK THAT A PRESIDENT OR A PUBLIC LEADER HAS A MORAL OBLIGAAAATION AND MUST STICK TO THE MORAL CODE THAT HE PREACHES!"
I whipped my head around to see who had launched the missile into the middle of my French bubble. And there they were.
I quickly snapped my menu up to hide myself should anyone mistake me as "one of them". Blood boiling, I started my litany, spit flying across the table towards FB. I first tried in French so I could further separate myself from the apes but as "to speak strong, it's BAD...MUCH noise" didn't really showcase my wit or allow for the full expression of my deep disdain, I instead launched into an angry whispered "WHY does that guy feel it's necessary to YELL what he thinks about MORAL CODE to the ENTIRE RESTAURANT? IN ENGLISH! You know, they are EXACTLY the reason why people think Americans are loud and obnoxious. BECAUSE THEY ARE! THEY ARE RUINING EVERYTHING AND RUINING MY DINNER!"
Before FB had a chance to respond, another missile was sent our way, only this time in English with a heavy French accent, "I THEENK THE FRENCH AND ZE AMERICAINS HAVE SOMESING TO LEARN FROM EACH OTHER! SARKOZY FOR EENSTANCE!"
This was yelled at an even louder decibel than the American.
I was struck into silence.
AMERICANS are loud and obnoxious.
FB gave me the look of "See? We have assholes here, too".
And then our fish arrived. As the waiter set the fish down in front of me, my first thought was "Houston, we have a problem". It was the whole fish. Tail, head and charred eye staring straight at me. I have a history of not eating food that can look at me but I didn't want to come off as amateur or unworldy so I carefully set a piece of lettuce over the eye and got busy with the middle of the fish. Digging straight in, I filled my mouth with a hefty bite and then....
CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH
OK my mouth is filled with fish bones. Shit. I've heard people die from this. OK just keep chewing like it's totally normal. Alright, just nonchalantly slip that bone out of your mouth, ok, next one, ok number 3, 4, 5...no one noticed, keep going.
But when I got to 8 bones picked and spit out of my mouth, I gave up and looked at FB's plate. With surgeon-like skills, he had neatly spread his fish apart, extracted the bones and was happily and precisely eating just the meaty parts.
My plate looked like a murder gone bad with a lettuce cover up. I decided to come clean.
ME "Um, I have never actually eaten a fish like this before".
FB "Never? As in, never in your WHOLE LIFE?"
ME "No, never in my whole life. I never liked things looking at me while I eat them."
FB "Ahhhh, I was wondering about the way you were cutting into it! Do you want me to help you?"
I quietly sat like an embarrassed five year old while FB reached across the table, cleaned up my murder victim and cut him up correctly for me. He explained what the different parts of the fish were and as he cut the slimy egg sac out, held it up and asked me if I wanted any, I was able to hold my gag reflex down while muttering a "no, no, no, I think that's enough for tonight."
Lessons learned after three months in France: There are assholes everywhere and fish have lots of bones. Maybe I'm actually getting somewhere.