It's a Nightmare: Wine, Baguettes, and a whole lotta Cheese!

Oh, what fun...

By Allison Mason | Feb - April 2006

Ah, the smell of urine… the incessant honking of cars, busses, and motor-scooters mingled with exclamations of “putain!” and “merde!” And of course there’s always that one toothed bird lady throwing some sort of inedible grain to disease infested pigeons.

These are the true sights, sounds, and smells of Paris. While we can all enjoy similar things in our own hometowns, the “CSU International Programs” takes it one step further, allowing us to enjoy these things in someone else’s backyard.

Seduced by the International Programs’ promise of earning college credit while seeing the world, and increasing my foreign language proficiency, I packed my bags and headed all bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed for a year in “Gay-Paris.”

I started my journey by hopping a jet. A jet in which the seats kept getting smaller and more uncomfortable—the meals chalkier and ever less flavorful, somehow perfectly resembling the sort of excrement you can only find in a baby’s diaper.

After enjoying 14 hours with 200 strangers and their body odor, farts, and stinky feet, by the grace of sweet merciful Jesus Christ, I finally landed in my new home city, ready and willing to take whatever beatings Paris had to offer.

Illustration by Jessie Day

Since then, Paris has kicked my ass hard and often. While she is the “City of Lights” and the “City of Love” (a love which often consists of sex shops, dirty movies, and men trying to cop a feel on the metro), she can also give you a good shove while you are crouching down to tie your shoes.

Life is often hard no matter where you live, but it takes a true masochist to go for it in a foreign country where even the most mundane daily tasks can pose major barriers.

Imagine climbing a wall to get to your goal; say fixing your internet. Now, imagine there is barbed wire on top, then add German Nazi’s with AK-47s on the other side riding grizzly bears wearing spurs. Makes it a bit tough, no? Oui. I guess you have to take it all with a grain of salt, but do Nazis and grizzlies like salt?

Paris does have some saving graces, like the metro system, one of the best inventions on earth. There are a multitude of lines that will take you to every corner of Paris. If I didn’t have a chance to get close to all the Parisians that treat me (anyone for that matter, each other included) like dirt on the street, I get to do it on the Metro.

There’s nothing like the old man with greasy hair and a lazy eye stroking your leg while cramped next to a tone deaf aspiring accordion player. Ah, the city of Paris, where else can you scurry so efficiently to and fro beneath the earth like so many drunken gophers? Just be prepared for more urine stench, because public restrooms are few and far between, and people seem to just let loose wherever the urge may take them. Interestingly, even gophers dig designated burrows in which to expel waste. In French, the expression, “Don’t shit where you eat” doesn’t translate.

Photograph by Desmond Barca

With these kicks in the gut, there are some wonderful things that you can’t find in San Diego County. Take metrosexual men for example. Paris (and Europe in general) is crawling with beautiful, well dressed, well mannered men who would make even Johnny Depp feel insecure. And the best part: THEY AREN’T GAY! Well… for the most part. Ladies, take a trip to Paris if you want to try your hand at love (or lust if you prefer) because this city is teeming with young hotties. Even some of the policemen are eye candy, with their little hats that resemble an army nurse’s and their tight pants, you can’t help but get a little excited while they are throwing you into the back of a police car.

And don’t you worry, men. Paris has many beautiful, single ladies you can attempt to use your smooth talking, one-liners on. But if you think women can be bitchy and self absorbed in the States, Parisian women can be 10 times worse. So you might need to try a better tactic than, “Gee, that’s a nice set of legs, what time do they open?”

Not only are the people beautiful; the art and architecture is as well. There are ancient churches in each quarter, that even upstage the monstrous Mormon Temples in the good old U.S. of A. And if you aren’t fond of Jesus, head to the Marais where you will find many temples and synagogues for those of the Jewish faith. Can’t stand religion in general? Just go for the architecture and free concerts that are held weekly. More of an art person? There are probably hundreds of museums in Paris ranging from the “Museum of Eroticism” to the “Museum of Dentistry.” Whatever you like; they’ve got it. And did I mention sex shops? Men, you can take your pick of booths to pleasure yourself in and view naked women through peep holes at the famed, “Pigalle” (Pig Alley). I find the name quite fitting.

One of the things that attracted me to the city was the sweet call of food. The French do know how to do something right. They make even the simplest food, such as ham and cheese, into a work of delicious cuisine that can produce screaming orgasms with every bite. Every corner has a sushi place, a “creperie,” or a meat-stack vendor (no using the unpronounceable word “gyro” here). This is why my waistband has been expanding with each step in Paris.

If you can get over the tiny apartments, high prices (and the thought of only receiving elective credits if you aren’t perfectly fluent), then step right up and fly to Paris; the city of enchantment. It sure is an experience.

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