One of the charming thrills of living in Paris is occasionally rubbing elbows with -- and even getting to know well -- people who are in the upper echelons of the literary, journalistic, artistic, diplomatic or business worlds. You get accustomed to it -- at a sought-after gathering there's usually quite a mélange of guests. One person who was interviewed in the New York Times or the Economist the previous week, for example, and another who wrote the article. And then there's me. And a pale guy still hanging on the social coattails of his late mother's international fame. And a blonde who announces she can't stay at the party because she has to catch a plane to Cannes. That's just the day-to-day world in Paris. The mighty and the lowly, tossed together like a macédoine at any given social function.
Yes, the lowly -- such as the humble bloggers. Not the famous Paris blogger-authors like Clotilde or Petite or David. Just random bloggers like me who are having fun sharing their version of Paris with the gullible dozen or so readers who actually believe that I live here. (I'm really writing Polly-Vous Français from my garage office in the suburbs of Spokane.)
Ha-ha, naturellement, I'm kidding. But really. Being a blogger in Paris. It's often hard to get taken seriously in this city of people who wield their impressive talents and get paid for it.
Not enough of a self-promoter, I don't pimp my blog in casual conversation much, but sometimes I do get asked about it.
Typical scenario. I am at a large weekday conference-soirée milling around with friends and acquaintances. "How's the blogging going, Polly?" asks one pal, with the same ever-so-slight pause after the word blogging, the same intonation, as if he had asked "How are you enjoying clown school?" When American friends in Paris ask "How's the blog?" there is often a suppressed smirk accompanied by a benevolent closed-mouthed smile and a bemused twinkle in the eye. Oh, yes, a blog. They gleefully mime the twittering of fingers over a keyboard when they say it. I want to reply coquettishly, "Goodness me, why are you asking -- don't you read my column faithfully, mon cher?"
But gosh darn, no, I don't say that. I'm so eager to please. I just chirp, "It's great!" with my usual perky all-American smile, and then I spew out some fictional weekly statistic to prove how respectable I am. Actually, this blog does have about 3,500 individual hits per week, about 5,000 page loads. Those numbers never fail to either a) impress or b) make people want to hook me up to the nearest polygraph machine. "On your blog?" they ask incredulously. Well, sure. Of course, I don't reveal that 25% of my readers are Boomers reading my post on Morticia and Gomez, and another 25% are Estonians googling for pictures of French babes in lingerie.
Then there are chums who have the opposite reaction: embarrassed, they say nothing about my blog, pretending it doesn't exist. It's as if they don't want to have been caught reading it, as if knowing what I have written on my blog is tantamount to sneaking a peek at my intimate diary.
Don't worry, folks, I yearn to say. It's published on the World Wide Web, over 1.3 billion internauts served daily there. So go ahead, it's okay to read it. More than okay -- encouraged, actually. Please pass it on. Tell your friends about my blog. Especially any publisher friends looking to find the hidden talent in me and sign a six-figure book deal.
And, blessedly, there are the kindhearted journalists or editors who occasionally express admiration, real or pretend. "Oh, you write Polly-Vous Français? Love the blog!" It's happened -- exactly twice, which isn't quite putting me on the superhighway to a Pullitzer. Sure they love blogs. Blogs are, of course, an excellent source of initial field research for writers at many august dailies and glossies. A recent statistic claims that about 70% of all journalists skim blogs for information and timely topics. I don't mind doing the legwork for them for free, for the most part. It doesn't pay the rent, but, heck, I'm flattered whenever a story or idea of mine gets borrowed and rewritten and put into print... usually. Don't any of these print publications want to hire an in-house blogger? I'm available!
Ah, blogging in Paris. No fame, no glory, no income. Quand même, I love it. I'm accustomed to the reactions or lack thereof at parties. So these days I don't mind it when a charming rascal mimics that keyboard-typing gesture when mentioning my blog. It's kind of sweet.
But if ever -- ever -- some fellow dares to ask about my "blog" while using his fingers in little-rabbit-Foo-Foo "air quotation marks," I hope I'm wearing my pointiest stilettos.
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