Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Open and Shut

The warm weather has finally arrived in Paris.

Last night I retrieved the oscillating fan from la cave. When the evening air had cooled down, we opened all the windows and kept a refreshing breeze blowing through the apartment all night.

I think this makes me a pariah in my apartment building.

In the morning I am sitting at the dining room table, sipping my cafe au lait and staring vacantly out the wide-open window across the courtyard.

One by one, neighbors open their shutters. I see the bare upper torso of the older bachelor on the 4th floor. Wish I hadn't. He leans out to fling wide the shutters and latch them to the wall.

On the second floor, an elegant lady in a white terry cloth peignoir opens her shutters and her windows, and for the first time I can see all the way to the street, across her parquet hallway to the open window at the end. She leans out the window, smoking a cigarette. I think she already has applied her make-up.

Next door to her apartment, a middle-aged husband opens the shutters and he pads around the modern kitchen in his boxers and T-shirt.

In the apartment adjacent to mine, I see a lone hand unlatching the shutters and pushing them open. No face or body, just a hand like Thing.

I guess I am just the resident wacko, the crazy American lady, recklessly inviting all manner of evil night creatures and threatening courants d'air into my apartment by keeping my shutters and windows wide open.


Andrea said...

I always leave my windows open all night, even in winter. It's too hot otherwise.

Evil night creatures is right! I woke this morning to find the most massive mosquito I've ever seen in my life. We're talking almost 10cms!!! I completely freaked out!

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Most French I know can't sleep in a room that is anything less than perfectly dark. My husband had a difficult time adjusting to life without shutters in the US.

Plus, there's the primal fear of the courant d'air, responsible in the French imagination for all manner of ills, including and especially strife between colleagues over whether or not the office window should be open or the AC turned on. In my experience, anyway.

isabella said...

During most nights in Paris, we slept with the windows open, but the volets closed. Still, our sleep was interrupted many times by the buzz of mosquito...
They would bite and then escape to our very high ceiling, mocking us. Well, I finally devised a way to eliminate them there - I would throw a pillow flat at the ceiling and, believe it or not, had a 100% success record ;-)
Love your vines!

Evelyn said...

The French would go crazy in Iowa! I not only sleep with every window in the house open, but also the slider onto the deck and the back door. Plus I have all the ceiling fans whirring. Okay, when the temps stay in the 70s+ at night and it gets muggy (like last night), I close up everything, pull the blinds down and turn on the AC! I confess, I'm a wimp!

Anna said...

My mère d'acceuil would always shut my window when I wasn't around. She never understood that I like a breeze and a fresh smell, not to mention a natural air conditioning.

Ange said...

Well, my Brit husband and my American self, we leave our window open at night, never close the shutters, and yes, now that you mention it, I think our Parisian neighbors think we are strange. I have often wondered about this.

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