Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Paris

A seemingly reasonably planned 10-day escape to Europe. Little did I know that, through a series of events to be outlined below, a forgotten wallet would result in the demise of a perfectly decent French armoire. So it goes.

 

Dropped at the airport early in the AM by my beautiful wife, it is underway. But as I check my bag at the counter, a horrifying discovery: I had left both my wallet and my wedding ring at home on the dresser. More on the wallet, but my first thought is the hell-fire fucking trauma my wife will crank herself into with 10 days at home alone wondering why my wedding ring is sitting there. Cock. The last thing I need is to have to spend a month upon return convincing her that I didn’t run off to Europe to get laid. Well, fuck all that…it’s time will come….

 

So, on to the more important consideration of cash flow. No good being in Paris & Amsterdam without giant truckloads of cash. I’m going to need a drink.

 

The situation: passport, but no Dollars and no way of procuring them. And I really need a goddamn ham sandwich & a Baileys/coffee. I lob a call to AMEX and they say they can have a new card waiting for me at DeGaulle (which will later turn out to be the worst motherfucker clusterfuck of an airport ever conceived. Chuck would be pissed.) That seems solid. So the cash situation should be resolved upon arrival, but that will be 2 stops and 15 hours from now. And if I don’t get a Baileys/coffee for 15 hours, I’m going to rip somebody’s face off.

 

And then, standing in front of the currency exchange at PDX, serendipity arrives: Sean’s Won. My man Sean had given me a fistful of Won a couple of weeks earlier so I could get my drunk ass in a cab and escape the sprawling hell of Pusan. I had stashed the extras deep in the backpack in anticipation of returning them to him at our meetup in Amsterdam. But fuck that too…Won = Dollars = Baileys/coffee.

 

Dug deep in the handy waterproof pocket and pulled out the bounty: 14000 Won. Wow. This is the vast extent of my traveling money at this point. I hand my stash to Ms. Currency and she says it’s worth $10.18. What the hell. Sweet Victory. (Sorry, Sean.)

 

So, feeling like I’ve gotten away with something, it’s off to Newark and then CDG. The 2.5 hr delay at Newark doesn’t even phase me. No sleep on the plane, but who cares. It’s fucking Paris.

Arrive with plenty of time to check out the sites and get some vino in me before the afternoon meetup with Reverend Dave. But first, to pick up the precious AMEX….

 

First, because I’m such a badass, I just wander for a while figuring I’m so lucky that I’ll just walk right to the damn thing. But after 30 minutes or so, I start to sense what a twisted fucker CDG really is. Better to be humble, stand in line, and ask for a bit of direction.

 

15 minute wait.

 

I get pointed in the right direction, 10 minute walk, and there she is. Give me my cash. We’re an hour into this project, but I’m still feeling good. But I get the the window and Mr. Guy has no idea who I am or what the fuck I’m talking about. I hold off on the “Do you know who I am?” speech and ask if there are other AMEX offices at CDG which might be holding my precious cargo. Four others, in fact. Mr. Guy spends 15 minutes on the horn with no success. I suggest, strongly, that he call AMEX customer service and locate the motherfucker. He informs that their phones do not dial out of CDG and I will need to wait in another line and call them myself. To which I ask, “with what currency would you like me to do this, Mr. Cock? You know my situation well since I have now been standing here in front of you for MORE THAN 20 FUCKING MINUTES.”

 

“Please wait.”

 

Ten more minutes and Mr. Cock has a toll-free number for me to call. Good. Now we’re fucking onto something. AMEX customer service says my card is waiting happily for me in Terminal 3. Great. We’re on the move.

 

Fifteen minute walk, train ride, fight through sinking hoards cued for city train tix (seems ominous for later) another 10 minute walk outside, over the river and through the woods, and finally Terminal 3. AMEX office. We’re golden.

 

Ms. T3 no speakie ze engwish. Change windows. Mr. T3 seems to hear the words coming out of my mouth, ponders…long goddamn ponder…and informs, “Sir, we do not have the ability to make cards at this location, even if we were asked to do so.” FUCKER.

 

Time check…2.5 hours in, and no cash. I should be goddamn drunk on fine vino by now.

 

Back on the horn to AMEX customer service…because it would make to much cockfuck sense for AMEX to speak to their CDG office hacks directly. “Sir, your card is waiting for you in Terminal 3.”

 

“No, ass, I am in Terminal 3 and Holmes says they have no way to print a magic card at this location. I’m looking right at the cocksucker now.”

 

15 minute hold.

 

“Sir, your card is waiting for you in Terminal 2D.”

 

“Okay, what the hell information did you gather in the last 15 minutes that would convince me you are now correct when you and the last bastard I spoke to were so sure that I needed to haul myself and my shit all the goddamn way out here to Terminal 3? It is a mile fucking walk back to Terminal 2 and I have idea now much further to the promised land you call Terminal 2D. If I’m going to undertake this special voyage, you better be real cockfuck sure that there’s a pretty golden card waiting for me at the end of that rainbow.”

 

15 minute hold.
“Sir, your card is waiting for you in Terminal 2D.”

 

Cock. Ten minute walk outside, fight through ever-growing stinking hoard cued for city train tix (damn, that shit is really starting to give me heartburn about next steps here), train ride, 15 minute walk, Terminal 2D. Bam, card. Hot damn. “Gimme a big pile of cash while I’m here.”

 

“Uh, sir, we cannot give you any cash.”

 

“What? Have you looked at the front of this goddamn kiosk in which you work? It says ‘American Express,’ known the world over for efficient and convenient access to mountains of cash in times of dire need, for gods sake……………….Oh, and you really should do something different with your eye makeup.”

 

“Let me check with my manager.”

 

Cock. 15 minute wait.

 

Time check…3 hrs 15 minutes, card, but no cash. Ms. Crazy Eyes returns with a horrible wink and “I now get you ze cash.” Stellar. About goddamn time. All that’s left is a hop on the city train and into central Paris……….oh yeah, fucking city train……….

 

Down the escalator and into a crushing mob all trying to find a way to get a city train ticket. No organized line system. No way to know what the parameters are. Just a blob of assholes. Stop, be rational. You’re smarter than all this. Plus, I’m flush with cash and have a shithot new AMEX. What could go wrong?

 

Spread out over 20,000 sq ft are 30-or-so kiosks for purchasing tickets and each kiosk has a blob of people surrounding it. Nothing to do, I guess, other than grab a blob and hold on. Twenty minute wait. As I get closer to the kiosk, it appears that they accept Visa/MC, but no AMEX. Okay, no problem, they clearly accept cash. Second in line and the asshole in front of me is trying to jam bills into the machine, but it doesn’t want anything to do with him. Panic. Turn to the hotass Frenchie behind me and inquire, “Escuche bien. No cash?”

 
“Non. Visa or coins only.”
At this point, I notice that half the motherfuckers in these various lines are bailing out after making a similar discovery. And, now that I think of it, why didn’t goddamn Ms. Eyes at AMEX give me coins when she knew I was heading straight for this hell. Screw job!
Dammit, settle down. We’ve almost escaped this nightmare. All we need is one lousy train ticket.
Step 1: Vending machine. Pump in cash/AMEX, get coins out as change. Brilliant. Fight through all these dicks and get to the bank of machines. “Coins only.” Well what motherfucking good does that do when there is already an acute coin shortage in this space?

Step 2: Go to the “Change” booth in the corner. Muscle past, knock over bags, kick babies (ruin any chance I might have had left to ever consider running for public office), push to the front, and glare in horror at the serenely grinning girl behind the window. Sign reads, “No coins.” What do you mean no coins? What good is your ratfuck ‘change’ kiosk if it doesn’t offer up coins?

Step 3: Go to the mini store, buy something small, get coins in return. Mr. Fattie behind the counter is onto me as soon as I hit the door. “No change for you.” Bastard.

Step 4: Find a change machine. Now this is the real cockfuck of the whole scene. Thousands of people running around looking for coins and not a single change machine to be found. If I wasn’t so angry, tired and decidedlynot drunk, I would liquidate my 401K immediately and invest in 50 fucking shiny new change machines. I’d be the toast of the town. It’d make up for the baby kicking bit at least….

So, Step 5, the final insult: Wait in the line that snakes around the room for the one window that takes cash with the rest of the ham n’ eggers. I am truly a jackass now.

Forty minute wait. One fucking ticket to central Paris, please. A total of 4 hrs 35 minutes spent at Charles Motherfucking DeGaulle.

 

But, goddamnit, we’re in Paris here. Can’t let the man get me down. Must find a way to right this ship, and alcohol is the surefire way to do that.

 

Get to town, check into the hotel (wow, the Rev. Dave and I are going to be really cozy here…), drop the bags, grab the camera, and prepare for battle. Rev. Dave rolls in right on cue…wondering why the hell I’m just now getting in when I was supposed to have a half day head start…but that story requires booze. First bar is two doors down and that seems a solid place to start.

 

Three 6EU beers and things are looking up. Realize I haven’t eaten a goddamn thing since the miracle ham sandwich in Newark. Twelve hours ago. Menu, “ham sandwich 7EU,” no problem. Mr. Bar informs, “Sir, it’s too small, it’s for girls.”

 

“Uh………….okay…………..” Mr. Cocksucker Thief upsells me to a 13EU pizza that I only eat half of. Fuck that guy, we’re on the move.

Louvre courtyard. Three 9EU beers. Champs Elysses. Gallon tub of Rhone. Arc de Triomphe. Ginourmous pitcher of kickass sangria at Le 10 Bar (‘The 10 Bar’ if you don’t speak The French.) Beer chaser. Time for some dinner.

 

In our rush to get to the tasty beverages, Rev. Dave and I left all of the guidebooks at the hotel, so we had to wing the restaurant selection process. No problem, right? It’s fucking Paris!

 

Stumble down a side street, sidle up to three pretty girls checking out a menu. If they go in, we should certainly follow. They do. Done and done.

 

Although the sangria is now beginning to lightly scramble my eggs, we make it through the menu interpretation, get a vat of wine on the table, and get down to negotiations with Mr. Pretentious Dickhead on some chow. I point to the menu. I cannot emphasize this particular detail enough. I did not try to be cute and order in French. I did not haggle with Mr. Pretentious Frenchie Dickwad in bad English. I pointed at a starter and a main and nodded my head. The shit is simple. Bring the shrimp and then bring the beef. That’s all we need to do here and I will then go in peace. Mr. Pretentious Cocksucker asks how I want my steak prepared, also a crucial detail.

 

Out comes the shrimp, down the hatch. Not spectacular, but a good start. Waiting somewhat patiently for the beef entree when Mr. Pretentious Ass comes around and asks me what I want for my dessert. I shoot a look to Rev. Dave, but I get some crazy raised glazed donut of a look back. Clearly the sangria is working for him as well. Praise jesus.

 

“Where is my beef?” I calmly inquire.

 

“Sir?”

 

“The beef I ordered. Shrimp and then beef.”

 

“No sir. You chose the entree shrimp and now you choose a dessert.”

 

Voices are raised. The pretty girls, who ignored our drunk asses from the beginning, now begin to squirm and whisper in low voices.”

 

“Listen, dick. I ordered a starter and an entree. I realize that you fucked it all up and brought the entree shrimp, but is your motherfucking problem. Bring me the beef I ordered.”

 

“But sir, you didn’t….”

 

Mr. Pretentious Beefstealer brings a menu, much pointing ensues. Hopeless. Rev. Dave recommends we leave in search of another beverage. Fine. Fucking perfect.

 

Four 8EU beers and 13 cigarettes. Off to the Eiffel Tower. (As a sidenote here, I would highly recommend getting extremely liquored up and heading for the top of Eiffel.) Drunk Santa decides the thing to do here is to run around and jump in the middle of everyone else’s photos. On Valentines Day. In Paris. I must have run up and put my arm around 20 pretty girls whose boyfriends were trying to snap a shot of them high atop the city. Not sure how I didn’t get fucking pounded for that, but I guess tourists are generally docile. Hopefully, some V-Day pics of me and someone else’s girl will turn up on the Internets.

 

The 10EU beers (10 oz) at the top are just too much even for my warped sensibilities, so it’s off to another bar.

After 9 hours of well-executed boozing and 36 hours without sleep, the wise course of action seems to be to go back to the bar next to the hotel and finish up. We got pointed in the right direction, but ran across a Japonese place (French for Japanese). A snack seems lovely. In we go and confidently order hot sake, Kirin, and edamame. Don’t have edamame. In fact, Mr. Japonese Guy didn’t understand what the hell I meant. He then berated me for my poor Japanese. Sent him off for gyoza instead…

The sake is luke warm and the foulest I have ever tasted. Rev. Dave confirmed this point the next day. And two days after that. We finish, complain loudly about the sake to each other, and the Rev. needs a pee. While away, Drunk Santa orders another round, to the Rev’s horror and astonishment moments later (and the next day, and two days after that). Another serious fuckup. Fix it with a trip to the bar for a nightcap.

Three 6EU beers and suddenly I’m defending the politics of Barack Obama to some college professor from The Sorbonne. After about 20 minutes, this seems unwise and I turn him over to Rev. Dave and step out for a smoke. The indoor smoking ban here is only a month old and the local smokey smokeys are really not taking it well. Back inside, it’s 1 am and seems to be closing time.

We’re working with the sexy young professor, his Boris Yeltsin-looking “mentor” also from The Sorbonne, and Boris” hotass 20-something German artist wife. Doors are locked, shades drawn, much covert smoking ensues. Politics, philosophy, 4 more 6 EU beers, healthy pile of butts, and suddenly it’s 3 am. Christ fucking jesus. Going to need the other 9 days of this vacation to recover from the first one. Hugs, farewells, and promises to send emails that will never in hell get sent.

The Rev. and I stumble (quite literally) the final half block home. Now, I didn’t realize how horrifically paper-thin the walls in this hotel were until I laid awake the entire following night due to a tragic coffee mix-up, but rest assured that if someone three floors up got up to pee, I knew about it.

So, in wander Rev. Dave and I crashing into doors and walls and giggling like hormone-addled pre-teens. I’m certain now that the process of fitting key-to-door alone was enough to wake the entire goddamn place.

Rev. Dave blasts through the door and slams the bathroom door to take a long-overdue piss. I’m attempting to remove clothes, but nothing seems to be working properly. I stumble to the armiore – where I had previously dumped out the entire contents of my bag – and decide that it will surely help me to stand still so I can remove my fucking socks.

And so, with a mighty crash that certainly awoke the (now pissed off) tender baby jesus, the next thing I know, I am on my back with the armoire on top of me, door broken in three pieces, and my head covered in underwear and socks. In between hyenic spasms of laughter, I cry out for The Rev to come and save me. A cry which also summons the hotel clerk whom the Rev. Dave quite deftly talked down. “Is noothing, iss nooothing, nooo problem.”

Lessons Learned:

1. Fuck CDG. Fly somewhere else and take a train to Paris.

2. AMEX does not love you as much as you think they do.

3. I should have heeded the precient advise of a friend who advised, “Noo mo hot sake. Make me less dan one hundred percent next day.”

4. Do not drink with Boris Yeltsin or anyone who can be mistaken for him.

5. Always, if you can afford it, travel with a Reverend.

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