Last night, I went to Isabelle's for Zach's going away party. I had gotten about a block, when I realized that I forgot to write down the TWO door codes that her building requires. Almost all the buildings here have keypads by the door, where residents and guests must dial an at least 4-digit code using base13. (0-C) You must know the code before you can even get to a buzzer with your friend's name on it. Isabelle's building has a code to get to the buzzers and another code to get to the stairs or the lift. So, I turned around and walked back into my apartment.
On the way, I had noticed that my building's dumpster was outside with a Christmas tree sitting next to it. Aha! This is how one disposes of them! So I wrote down the codes and then Cola grabbed the tree. This tree was barely two weeks old, but it was two weeks indoors, in a warm dry place with no water. It was the driest Christmas tree that I've ever encountered. There was a green carpet on the ground beneath it and a few twigs (ones that people might brush against) were already completely bare. By the time Cola got the tree to the door of the apartment, two sides of the tree were completely bare. There was a trail of needles left all the way down the stairs, with an incriminating termination at my door. Yikes.
So, covered in pine needles and running late, we tried a shortcut . . .. There are no shortcuts in Paris. It is a labyrinth of a city. If there are two parallel streets, it's an accident that somebody is waiting to correct. In stead, one must think of Paris as a series of more and less desirable locations. The more desirable a place is, the more roads will lead to it or from it. The Arc de Triomphe is exceedingly important, so roads come at it from all sides. All those roads lead to places that are important enough to get a road. Some places, it seems, are important to send people TO a particular destination. Others are important for a return. Just because there is a broad boulevard from A to B does not mean there is a direct route from B to A. Despite Isabelle's logement, her street is not very important, although I did see some stuff I'd not seen before.
Eventually, I got where I was going and once we were all assembled, we all went downstairs to the Chinese Takeaway. Isabelle loves this Takeaway. It wouldn't be much by Bar Area standards, but for Paris, it's pretty good. We all sat down at a long table with Zach at the end. I was near the other end when Isabelle called down to me, "Tell them about your Christmas tree!" How did she know I just made a mess of my building's stairs? "What about it?" I hedged. Turns out that she wanted to me to talk about my questions regarding watering it. "You wanted to put water on it???" the French woman across from me was shocked! Does she water flowers? Yes, but trees are much bigger than flowers. Crazy Americans want to put water on Christmas trees! Who ever heard of such a thing? (It must be normal to drop half the needles off the tree on the way out.)
Anyway, at the end of the evening, Cynthia, who will one day be famous in America, suddenly attacked me! She tried to push me to the ground! She failed to do so, but did a short victory dance! «Yay France beats America!» she said. okaaaaay. So I told her to come over so I could give her a CD.
I hadn't really realized what a mess the tree had made on it's way out until we arrived back at my place. A thick line of needles all the way up the stairs. And once I opened the door, the floor was green with pine needles. It looked like grass. Also, very slippery. Cola brushed the needles off a couple of stairs so Cynthia and Michelle could sit down. I gave Cynthia a CD. It's kind of awkward having people over when your apartment is actually a disaster. They left shortly thereafter and then I swept up a least a liter (maybe 1,5) of needles form the living room and hallway. Then I went to bed. The end