Halley Knigge (Griffin)

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Sometimes the nights when nothing goes according to plan end up being the best nights out. Sometimes they end up stinking, like the night we couldn’t get into Le Queen because of the shoes Rachael was wearing (who knew the bouncers would have such hatred for orange flats?).

Sometimes though, you come home at the end of the night knowing that the adventure you had was way more fun than whatever you’d originally intended to do.

Last night, for example. R and I had both had long, obnoxious weeks and both ended up having had too much homework to do anything for Thanksgiving, so we were looking forward to doing something fun Friday night.

I headed over to her apartment around 22h with a bottle of the Beaujolais Nouveau where the plan was to make dinner then head out to a bar or club to unwind with a lot of dancing.

When I got to her building, however, R didn’t answer her doorbell. When I got through to her cell phone, I found out that she was indeed inside the building, but was locked out of her apartment. This is bizarre because she had a key – it just wouldn’t work in the lock.

I should probably mention that this was a replacement key. I’m not sure how she managed this, but a few weeks ago, R somehow flushed her apartment and building keys down the toilet. She was too embarrassed to confess what really happened to her landlord and when she told him they were lost, was informed that a replacement set costs 200 euro. This seemed like a ridiculous price, but having keys to your apartment are kind of a necessity, so she paid for new ones. Without a key she was having to leave her door unlocked when she left for the day, and when she got home used a chair to barricade it (many French doors can only be locked from the inside with a key).

In the week that she’s had the replacement keys, R managed never to actually have to use them (i.e., her roommate was always home too) until last night. Apparently the landlord copied the wrong set.

So there we were, in the hallway of R’s building, with a bottle of wine, a giant Nine West bag (mine) and a bulging backpack (hers), and nowhere to go. We left a message for her roommate, for another guy in the same building and for a guy from the Sorbonne who’d invited us to a party.

This is a pretty typical evening – note the crêpe and the bottle of wine.

With nothing to do but wait, we went to a kebab restaurant around the corner from R’s apartment. Our food was delicious (the owner made fresh frites for us), and we stalled for as long as we could, since we hadn’t had any phone calls yet, but eventually we had to stand up and pay.

By that time, we were the only customers left in the restaurant. Besides us, it was the owner and two of his friends – three dad-aged men. One was Turkish, but I’m not sure about the other two.

As we were paying, we chatted casually with the men, who were nice (if difficult to understand), and they ended up inviting us to stay and let them buy us glasses of wine. We didn’t have anywhere else to go, and they didn’t seem to be hitting on us, so we said okay and sat back down.

One of the friends bought the first round, but after that the owner got excited about playing the host and brought us plates of appetizers and wine refills for the hour we lingered. As random as it was, it ended up being really fun – we spent the entire time talking about politics: The immigration issues in France, the image of the United States abroad and how none of us felt the Monica Lewinsky incident was at all relevant to Bill Clinton’s ability as a leader.

At midnight we decided it was time to check if Vita had returned, so we thanked the men and were invited back anytime for free kebabs or drinks.

Vita hadn’t returned (or called) yet, so we borrowed a bottle opener from one of Rachael’s neighbors and settled down with the Beaujolais in a corner of the hallway to watch a few episodes of the Girls Next Door.

At 12:40 (ten minutes after the final metro) we finally got a call from Vita – who informed us that she wasn’t actually planning on coming home at all. She had multiple parties to attend and it was easier for her to crash at a friend’s apartment. Our only real option was to head back to my apartment – else R would have nowhere to sleep. There’s a noctilien bus that leaves Bastille at 10 past every hour and runs along Rivoli, so we decided to just pack it up and hoof it with our bottle of wine.

Well we ended up deciding not to take the bus. Instead we stopped at a little epicerie for some snacks (chocolate cookies and two chocolate bars, ha!) and had a great time wandering through Paris with our wine and chocolate. We stopped at Bastille for a while to watch the breakdancing guys who bring a boombox out every weekend and dance all night for donations.

Holllllla for 2am crêpes!

These guys have the potential to be a lot more than street performers – they are really really good. I love watching people dance who really know how to move – it kind of inspires me. Watching the guys last night I had a hard time keeping myself from running up and busting a move along with them. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t, because though I probably could have pulled out some hip-hop moves, I would kill myself trying to do crazy poses on wet ground while supporting myself with one hand.

The whole walk was just really fun – drinking Beaujolais and checking out the tacky (and some not so tacky) Christmas decorations that have sprung up all over Paris. (To balance out the Christmas, R sung me some Hanukkah carols and I did my interpretation of a Hanukkah carol dance along the sidewalk beside her). I’m really going to miss living in a country where you can drink wine straight from the bottle walking down the street and not get arrested. We eventually did make it back to my apartment and to bed, but with fond memories of the evening and plans to eat free kebabs at our next possible convenience.

•• Apparently French kids have their own shortcut online language. Instead of “I’m hungry 4 a hamburger,” they’ll say “Je n’aime pas 7 chose.” The number 4 for “for” in English, the number 7 for “cette” (this) in French. I thought it was funny – Ella taught me.

••• Aussi, I’m finally sick for the first time since I arrived in Paris. Cassie warned me that I’d probably get really sick this year because I don’t have the right antibodies to fight French germs…and I rightfully should have gotten sick since I was living with Rachael the walking disease for a month and a half, but I never did. Until now. Why could my body fight off the germs radiating at me from sleeping in the same bed as Rachael for a month and not the germs from little Georges? Actually, the cause is probably the fact that Rachael was never so proud of her boogers that she felt she needed to gift me with them. Georges, on the other hand…

Author: Halley (Griffin) Knigge

Storyteller and adventurer with a focus on new and social media. Ten years of award-winning writing and editing experience, eight years working professionally to share compelling stories through brand journalism, three years as an airline spokesperson, two years as a Tacoma Arts Commissioner and 30+ years of learning something new every day.

One thought on “

  1. Get better! so you can see that yes, I have (finally) read about your thanksgiving etc so now i know. For the record, I had pasta for thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey…we were at our “traditional” whistler thanksgiving restaurant and I really just thought my favorite pasta there sounded better than canadian turkey. Anyway…

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