As I crossed a bridge over the Seine it started to sprinkle. The light rain didn’t really bother me, so I continued on my journey. I stopped and looked at the island where Seurat painted Le Grande Jatte and was completely unimpressed. It is still one of my favorite paintings of all time, but the island looked a bit worn and disregarded. That is one of the problems with Paris, it has too much great stuff, too much famous stuff; some of it is bound to be forgotten. In the US someone would have come along and put up wooden cut-outs (the type where you put your head through a hole) so you could take a picture. I would bet that most Parisians don’t even know that the island exists because they are walking past the place where Lady Di was killed, or where Marie Antoinette was beheaded, that kind of history is tough to compete with.
Anyway, I continued walking and it started raining a bit harder. I am not made of sugar, so a little water isn’t going to melt me, but I live in the Northwest and we pride ourselves on never carrying an umbrella. A person with an umbrella in Seattle is like a man wearing travel pants in Paris: a tourist. Normally I would put on my raincoat and keep walking, but my raincoat was hanging in a closet in the state of Washington because IT WAS AUGUST and it isn’t supposed to rain in August.
I kept going thinking that I would find a little café, sit down and have a light lunch and wait for the rain to float by. I saw a café and headed for a landing. I took a look at the menu and then decided to see how much cash I had on me. I flipped open the Velcro flap on my pants and grabbed the security zipper and gave it a tug. At first I just thought it was my cold hands and the possibility that I was in a bit of a hurry, but once I stopped and really concentrated on trying to open my security pocket I realized that the pocket was truly secure and I would not be getting my cash anytime soon. I considered pulling with all my might and ripping the pocket open, but I hadn’t reached that point of desperation yet. So I kept walking.
One of the beautiful things about Paris is that the Metro system has stations everywhere, so I figured I would just abandon my walk and take the train back to my hotel. I saw a Metro entrance and proceeded down the stairs and out of the rain. This is where I had another realization: my Metro pass was in my security pocket. So I did what any normal, adult would do. I found a bench by the entrance and started really pulling at the stuck zipper. At this point, I really didn’t care if I ripped my pants, I could always buy new travel pants in Paris. There was probably a store called “Pants for Idiots.”
I tugged and tugged at the zipper.
I really hadn’t considered what I might look like to people passing by, but when a mother grabbed her son and pulled him away from where I was sitting I had a mini-epiphany: I am soaked, sitting on a Metro bench, furiously pulling on a zipper located relatively close to my groin, and making noises that could mistaken for either frustration or ecstasy. I am no Puritan but public masturbation is something that I imagine even Parisians are against. If I was in a Metro stop near Pigalle my activities probably would have gone unnoticed, or I might have had someone offer to help me, but I wasn’t near Pigalle. I sat up and reevaluated my situation, I could sit here and continue pulling on my pants and disturbing anyone walking by, or I could head back out into the rain and continue my walk.
The walk back to my hotel was long, wet and long. Did I mention it was a long walk? Well, it was a long walk, so long that when I go to my hotel my shoes were completely soaked, the kind of soaked where each step makes a squishing noise and water leaks out of your shoes.
The nice thing about my travel pants was that once I took them off in my hotel room the zipper worked wonderfully.