Walking down rue Boissy d'Anglas, a fashionable French woman in front of me stepped off the curb and in the process accidentally left one of her high heels behind in the sidewalk crack. Without missing a beat, she deftly backtracked three steps, retrieved her shoe, slipped it on, and then turned coolly around to see if anyone had noticed her gaffe. She looked at me and beamed a complicitous we-girls-suffer-like-this-don't-we sly grin.
"Cendrillon?" I ventured.
"Bien sûr," she laughed back, tossing her blonde curls and adjusting her designer sunglasses as she strode across the street.
2. Comic relief
I was purchasing a teensy souvenir for a friend in a très très upscale hotel boutique. It was filled with sparkling and fluffy hotel-logo items, and there was a perfumed air of quiet elegance and decorum. The novice cashier was having difficulty making my American credit card function in the machine. Often French credit card machines are slow and unresponsive to cards with a magnetic stripe, since all French cartes bancaires have a puce -- a microchip -- which requires only a PIN code to be punched in. After multiple swipes of the card, and some coaching from the veteran saleslady, then finally trying another machine, she succeeded in registering the purchase.
She apologized for the delay as she wrapped the gift. Conversation ensued en français, as it often does, about the differences between the two types of cards.
I was tut-tutting as usual. "I just wish that American banks would put des puces into credit cards. It makes so much sense."
"Oui, oui, " she agreed, "it would simplify everyone's lives."
"Of course, I guess right now they have bigger problems to resolve," I added.
Unexpectedly we three started to giggle timidly, trying to rein it in at first. "Non, ce n'est pas le bon moment pour ça," she chortled. Then all three of us were doubled over shaking with laughter, like misbehaving schoolgirls in chapel. Dabbing the tears off our cheeks with kleenex.
In a large sky-blue dining room with 25-foot ceilings and a hushed atmosphere, a kindly American couple sits primly at the elegant table nearby, scanning their large white menus through their reading glasses. The waiter returns to their side, and with a short bow he flourishes the answer to the question they asked which had sent him scurrying.
"Eet is 'goldfish'," he announces.
"Goldfish?" Startled, the husband and wife look at each other in disbelief. They shake their heads and hastily dive back into their menus to find another selection.
I return to my menu to make my choice for lunch. The poisson du jour is rouget.