Trying to be French…

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What it’s like to be in Paris.

 

It’s the height of summer; walking outside burns your feet and eyes. I woke up last night with a pool of sweat. I felt like Dubai; the artificially created lagoon of sweat in my lower back breaking up a body of baking whiteness. I half expect to wake up tomorrow to luxury flats in my navel, and an Arab playboy combing my snail trail with caviar.

 

Of course it’s pretty; it’s Paris in summer. It’s the Granddaddy of pretty. And of course it’s romantic. It’s got cherubs in fountains for God’s sake. Every child grows up thinking of Paris as the place to whisper sweet nothings to your partner whilst walking along the river. Because Georgian apartments transform walking from “my knees are burning like JELLYFISH are BREEDING in MY APPENDIX” to “oh, how pleasant it is to stroll beside you.”

 

 And you could do that. But in this heat, the sweetest thing you could say to me is ‘fuck this, let’s go stick our head in the frozen meat section of the supermarket.’ I leave it to you to deduce whether eye sex still works when you’re surrounded by frozen liver.

 

Not that I’ve got anyone to whisper sweet nothings to over offal off cuts in aisle four. But I did get hit on by a drug dealer whilst I was buying ice cream. And he did smell strongly of urine. So there’s hope yet! Much of my time is spent in unrequited mental lust with anyone passing who happens to look vaguely French. Give a water vole stubble, a cigarette and generally disgruntled expression and I’ll melt in mush.

 

Of course when you’re in Paris, you’re supposed to talk about the food. There’s lots of it, it’s amazing. I spend most of my time when I’m supposed to be admiring the architecture planning how to eat my macaroons. (Separate the two halves to scoops the creamy innards…or keep it stacked and chew through…?) One thing that is different is that coffee here is just espresso. No flat whites, long blacks or curly foamy things with sprinkles. It’s an espresso. Apparently it sorts the men from the boys, as my Dad said, with the wise authority of someone who has an English accent.

 

And there’s shopping. Although I haven’t done any as when I’m on holiday with my Dad and Brother, the inevitable “we’re late!” frog marches us past any interesting shop. It’s a shame. After everything I’ve heard about French lingerie, I was looking forward to finding wisps of jewelled silk to floss with. But at least we weren’t late for looking at the hundredth Virgin Mary statue, skewered on the building that looked like the love child of a prison and a harmonica.

 

On the subject of clothes, I think France is the country whose principle skill is intimidation. I can tell you that every female tourist wakes up and thinks, “I’m in France, I’d better channel my Chanel and look chic, fresh, directional and you know, well, not foreign.” Which, considering your picking from your anorak, sensible sandals and quick dry Katmandu shirt, is like trying to play a symphony with a comb and a beetroot. Plus apparently only tourists where shorts, but all you have is shorts….So you end up going out in anything black you own, and feeling like a dormouse in the peacock pen. Embarassed, envious and very very beige.

 

But all in all, who gives a shit. You’re in Paris. It’s still par-reeeeee.

 

 

The Problem With Beautiful Women

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How do you make yourself unpopular in Melbourne? Being homophobic. Hating gays is as popular as Tony Abbot or chain coffee shops. I think this is great; homophobia is pathetic. But the situation causes difficulties for me, like what happened today.

Today I saw two girls  holding hands, being cute and coupley and saying the silly things lovers do like “Of course I want to go to your Auntie’s dog’s birthday party!” One of the girls was absolutely stunning. The sort of woman that would make Aphrodite want plastic surgery. I could not stop looking at her. I’m 100% straight, but my god was she beautiful.

Some women are like that. Some women are just so incredibly, jaw droppingly, orgasmically, Penelope-Cruz-covered-in-Marshmallow-y beautiful that you can’t not stare. She was one of those women. The women they put on perfume adverts to mesmerise you into forgetting that you’re buying 10ml of gnat’s piss for $300.

 You just can’t not look and look and look. It’s not in a creepy way; I’m not thinking about getting with her. I am just marvelling at the sheer magic of how such incredible beauty exists in such a frail bunch of carbon atoms. She’s art.

And as I was staring at her, I realised that her girlfriend had seen me staring. Her face darkened. The beautiful girl saw her partner’s face, looked around and scowled at me too. She put her arm over her girlfriend’s shoulders.

Oh crap, I recognised the look; it was the one Melbournians save for homophobes and immigration policy.

How did I explain?! I tried to put the fact that I wasn’t thinking homophobic thoughts, I was only thinking about how much she reminded me of the little dormouse in my illustrated Alice in Wonderland book, into my expression. I think I just looked inbred.

The girls rolled their eyes and moved away.

I sighed. I don’t think I could have done anything about it anyway. What would I say? “Hey sorry for staring at you, I’m staring at you because you’re stunning, not because you’re gay, which isn’t something to stare at, well people might stare, but probably only people from the country, but not here, oh you’re from the country….well, great. Ok, I’ll just go and sit in a corner until you forget I exist.” No. I don’t think so.

Ah well. They’ll just think I’m a narrow minded gay basher and I’ll just feel mildly uncomfortable. The world will move on. But it is the problem of beautiful women; you just can’t not look at them. They absorb your attention.

I know you want me…I know you do…

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I have a confession. I’m Britney’s Bitch. I’m one of those mindless, clothingless women who jump up and down in clubs to some sugary, pre-processed bite of Britney’s auto-tuned sighing and writhing. Basically I have no music taste. At all. 

I’m very jealous of people who do have an ear for music. Especially if they can explain to me why they like a song without using the word “fusion” or “post-punk-neo-wave-rave-house-Crayola-caffeine-electro.” I admire people who are passionate and knowledgeable on a subject; music is no exception to that. Plus if they’re really passionate their eyes will sparkle and they’ll start waving their hands excitedly like they’ve seen an elephant playing the Sax. Which is fun to watch.

So I’m very jealous of genuine musos. What I’m not jealous of is people who love music, but who’s first (and often subsequently last) comment to me is “what do you listen to?” Because when I say Pussycat Dolls, and they stare at me like I said I like to pierce my underarms, they’re just being pretentious.

Yes, the lyrics of “I know you want me, I know you do” are perhaps light on literary merit, but the PCD made millions and millions. And the ability to turn a profit is a criteria we generally judge success on. So can’t we say that they’re a successful band? It’s like people who make their money in shipping; it’s not fascinating but we still revere them as businessmen. Can’t I admire them for their ability to turn scant talent, and scanter clothing into a multi million empire?

Admittedly that’s not why I like them, I genuinely just like dancing and if it’s loud, bouncy and not trying to analyse the pain of modern capitalist youth, I’m down. And sometimes, liking things which are as devoid of artistic integrity as a painting by numbers Mona Lisa, are just fun. 

I’ll show you wear to shove that iPhone

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Dear ‘Eye Liner and iphone Hipster’ who cut in front of me,

Your tee shirt is too small. It does not say ‘indie’ – it says ‘I-don’t-know-when-to-use-hot-or- cold- wash.’ Maybe a little bourgeois skill wouldn’t go amiss….?

You’re ordering a fair trade coffee. Yes, I understand that you think you’re saving little African children, whose photos you collect on your wall like arty postcards. But you do realise that your pre-ripped jeans will have been produced by a little Chinese girl in a factory. The only difference is that it’s convenient to drink Fair Trade. It’s not convenient to stop wearing jeans.

May I also add, that by cutting in front of me, I am going to talk very loudly about the artistic brilliance of Britney. Then I’ll wait until you start to shudder convulsively before saying how I feel the lyrics of Katy Perry speak to me on an emotional level.

And , my dear hip one, you may have cut in the line, but I am laughing last. Because I’m a boring, middle class girl who paid attention in Chinese class, instead of being ‘hip’ and arranging my toenail clippings into a sculpture.

You think that the tattoo of a Chinese character on your arm is deep and ethnic. You probably think it says something profound like Love or Honour.

It says Vegetable.

Enjoy your coffee!

Verity

 

I’m sorry, you’ll have to repeat that….

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I thought using unnecessarily complicated words, that invariable sound like tropical diseases, in order to impress people was a teenage phenomenon.Only young people could think sounding like an arsehole is desirable. But apparently not. This is a quote from an academic I’m reading for class this week.

“Reading seemingly transparent autobiographical texts for their nuanced and subtle strategies of spectacular performativity rather than treating them as evidence means allowing for the ways in which a feminist experience itself is imbedded in the social and political. “

Couldn’t they just say they think the author was an attention whore? Or perhaps that underscores the subtle juxtaposition of inter-textual narratives on the nature of purple broccoli.