Tuesday night it was pouring, and I was rushing across town to meet up with the girls and our friend Ariane for dinner at Le Grand Colbert. Miss Bee had borrowed one of my larger umbrellas, and since it was really blowing up a storm, I used my other good folding umbrella, a black one with a slender fuchsia ruffle around the edge. It always cheers me up when I use it.
This is my all-time favorite umbrella. It's even more dear to me because I got it for a song at TJMaxx or Filene's Basement in Boston. Then, last week when I popped into Madeleine Gely's fabulous umbrella boutique on boulevard St. Germain, I spied very similar umbrellas for the gobsmacking price of 130 euros. A gentleman with his 9 year old daughter was purchasing two of them. Blow me away. Anyway, I was thrilled to already own one -- though not an authentic Madeleine Gely parapluie --- and proud that I had had the vision to pluck it from a pile at a discount store.
I do tend to lose umbrellas, and since they are de rigueur here in Paris I have amassed a little collection. I never leave the apartment without one, even if it's a sunny day. So whenever I see a cheap folding umbrella, I tend to buy it to have in reserves. Some are Totes brand umbrellas, from the States. Some are little touristy French parapluies (with images of French newspaper mastheads as a design motif). A plaid one, a bright yellow one. A burnt orange one that required lots of input from sales staff at the little shop on rue la Boetie last spring (a fun event where all were deciding on the right color: "This goes well with your hair, madame; that one goes well with your Longchamp bag", etc etc.). But this special dainty-but-strong black umbrella with the pleated pink ruffle -- well, I have held on to that. It somehow makes me feel very Parisienne in a Gigi sort of way.
Tuesday evening, entering Le Grand Colbert in a wet gust of wind, I did what everyone does, and put my dripping umbrella at the front door with all the others. I saw Bee's umbrella already there, so stashed my precious brolly behind hers.
We had a jolly dinner, and it was fun to show Bee's friend Jessica the "typical Parisian restaurant" now of movie fame (Something's Gotta Give). Oddly, they have now put up posters of that film in the entrance, which is a little tacky, I think. Then, at the end of the evening, we were leaving and MY UMBRELLA WAS NOT THERE. I got in a complete swivet. "Where is MY, umbrella, monsieur?" I asked the doorman.
Totally unfriendly, totally uncooperative, this toad in the fancy schmancy uniform postured, "If you wanted to keep your umbrella, you shouldn't have left it at the door."
I have been in France long enough to know that any time you try to take a soaking wet umbrella into a nice establishment you are immediately and disapprovingly asked to put it away from other clients and staff, at the umbrella stand at the door. However, this fact was clearly not going to enter into the logic of the little Cerberus’s haughty response. He proffered, "Here, madame-- you want a black umbrella? I give you this, “and flourished a cheap Tati umbrella in my face.
"Je ne veux pas de votre parapluie, monsieur," I snarled back. By now it was no longer raining and the only storm in the 2e arrondissement was me storming out of that restaurant. I always get slightly nauseous indigestion after dining at Le Grand Colbert. This time it was heading toward an ulcer. Now I have a real excuse not to ever go back.
So friends, the next time it rains, if you see anyone walking the streets of Paris sporting a black umbrella with a very lovely hot-pink ruffle around the edge, please tap her on the shoulder and tell her to return it to me.
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