Thursday, September 10, 2009
RUMBLE IN THE GARDEN
I witnessed something yesterday that I never in a million BILLION years thought I would ever see in Paris, ESPECIALLY in the very serene, very upscale and very calm Jardin du Luxembourg.
There was a good old-fashioned catfight between two middle-aged women.
I was quietly sitting in a chair meditating on how to be more successful by one of the many circular patches of grass that you can look at but never ever dream of actually walking on (this outdated concept of garden eludes me...what's the point of grass if you can't roll in it?). A group of 10 year old boys were running around the circular path with fake guns, shooting at each other, playing a game. Four mothers stood by watching them and directing the game. A woman of about 50 sat in a chair near me, reading the paper. The game went on for about ten minutes or so and I was enjoying watching the freedom of kids just playing. The reading woman near me was clearly not as the boys kept ducking behind her chair and shooting their guns from behind it which made a CLACK CLACK CLACK sound. Suddenly, without any warning, the woman reaches behind her chair, stands up, grabs the boy's gun out of his hand, screams at him and throws the gun into the trees. The boys all stopped in front of her and yelled back.
That's when she did the unthinkable.
She raised her hand and slapped the boy across the face.
OH NO SHE DIDN'T.
Oh yes, she DID.
She slapped another woman's kid. I sat up in my chair with a start and before I could even process what just happened, the Four Mamas Gang was already on the move and halfway across the forbidden grass. Like tigresses protecting their young, I have never EVER seen French women move so fast and with such intent. In a khaki pants pack, they moved as one and were up in Slappy's face before I could even blink an eye. In mere seconds, one of the mothers already had all the boys herded back over the grass and the other three Mothers had Slappy encircled. Animals are animals. You mess with the kids, you're gonna feel Mama's TEETH.
For REALS, yo.
Then the screaming began. Back and forth, back and forth. I thought for sure it would end at that and dissolve into the usual French argument for an hour, so I settled back into my chair.....but then Slappy kicked it up ANOTHER notch.
She raised her hand AGAIN and slapped the MOM.
OH NO SHE DIDN'T.
Oh yes, she DID.
All hell broke loose as the Mom completely lost it and grabbed Slappy's hair with a vengeance. Slappy grabbed back and for a moment, they were locked in a battle of the hair grip. In a matter of seconds, these two women had gone from calm Parisians to two shrieking, clawing, punching banshees at each others' throats. The two other members of the Four Mamas wrenched the now flailing Mom out of Slappy's grip and the three of them shot back across the grass, again, moving as one giant khaki pant. And then Slappy did the MOST surprising thing to me. She sat back down calmly, opened her paper back up and simply continued reading. I sat in shock, staring at her and wondering how she could have raised such hell and then just calmly sit back down as though she hadn't just bitchslapped a kid and tried to rip the Mom's face off.
Cultural difference or just a case of the crazies?
I'm not really sure.....
Five minutes later, the Four Mamas returned with about 15 guards from the garden who honestly looked a little bewildered by the whole situation. Then things took their expected and natural French course with a lengthy discussion between all parties that lasted at least the 32 more minutes I stayed and probably long after I left.
But for one moment there, I saw a little bit of New York....more walk and less talk.
Nice job, France.