Monday, February 11, 2008
Paris Nights In March 1986
It was March 1986, and I was on a high school trip to France. This is the view from the hotel room in Paris that I shared with my friends Mike and BHD. We'd all spent the past couple of weeks in the Alsace region in northeastern France, near the German and Swiss borders. It was there that we each lived with a French family and attended classes at the local school. And at the end of the 3 week trip, we spent a couple of days in Paris.
Our French teacher told us at the beginning of the trip that she was going to treat us the same as French adults treated kids our age (I was 16 at the time). That meant we were permitted to drink, provided we kept our heads and didn't do things that teenagers usually do after drinking a few (or several) alcoholic beverages. "Just don't do anything stupid," I recall her telling us.
I don't remember the name of the hotel. But every night, Mike, BHD and I would buy a bottle of wine, a pack of Gauloises, and hang out by the window and watch the Parisian nightlife go zooming by on the street below. One night, we discovered that the bathroom had rolls and rolls of pink tissue paper, and so we began wadding it up into balls, adding water, and tossing the sopping pink projectiles out on the window.
This, we soon discovered, was great fun. There weren't many pedestrians, so we started aiming at passing cars. The cars weren't going fast, so they were easy to hit. Especially Citroens -- the bulk of this obtusely designed vehicle made it almost impossible NOT to hit.
Since we did all this under cover of the darkness, no one ever figured out what we were doing. If they had, I'm pretty sure our teacher wouldn't have been too happy about it. But she never found out. I hope she's not reading this.
Anyway, after a while, we called some other classmates who were also staying in the hotel and they brought some more wine and joined us. We ended up staying up for hours every night doing this, but took great care not to make too much noise. Each time our projectiles would land on a car, we'd hear a very satisfying "SPLAT" from down below.
The next morning, as we boarded the bus to take us to the airport, the street in front of the hotel was so covered with pink paper blobs that you could barely see anything else. But somehow, none of the people passing by seemed to notice.