Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sticky thighs in the City of Lights

Our first day in Paris, we get a lay of the land from the massive seasonal Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde. We can see EVERYTHING from there!  Paris has turned us giddy.  "We can go there, and there... and THERE!"   Paris at our feet!  This is fantastic!!

Within  30 seconds of alighting from the ride we realize that  downtown Paris sports wide open spaces with concrete and cobblestones and palaces - all acting as the most stunningly architectured heat conductors/reflectors - I'm going to say it - in the world.  Wilting in the blinding sun, Rissa and I (in our fish-belly white glory), desperately seek out the tiniest scrap of shade that can be found in the lee of Parisian lamposts.

"DIBS!"  I yell - trying to morph my skeleton to the shape of the shadow.  Rissa stands in the lee of me, so she's good to go.

As a family we find ourselves ill-prepared.  Our plans for Paris had not been indoor plans.  We were going to head out each day in a different direction and just walk. We were going to explore - see the 'real' Paris - the Paris of the people.

As we walk back to our Air B&B flat in the 8th - I begin to rethink our Parisian plans.

"What are you doing?" asks David, watching me walk.

"I don't have a thigh gap," I explain, looking like I've just spent an afternoon riding the mechanical bull at the Rock 'n' Horse Saloon.


"Skirt. Thighs. Chafing. I under-powdered."  I am already anticipating macaron-sized heat rash on my inner thighs.  "I shouldn't have worn a skirt.  Or I should have packed the travel size baby powder in my bag."  I milk the physical comedy for a bit longer before I stagger and give up.  "Cover me!"


"Cover me!"  I heft my skirt and grab my slip, tying the front and the back together to create emergency bloomers.  I walk around a bit.  "Not bad.  I don't know if it'll get me 10 blocks back to the flat, but if it doesn't hold, I'll just pretend that I'm a bull-legged Charlie Chaplin."

Later, that evening, we arrive at the train station for our trip to Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, and I realize we have forgotten the travel sized baby powder... again.   I just had to wear a chi-chi dress.   But we're going to a chi-chi Palace, a chi-chi dress is totally appropriate. Having liberally applied powder, I think I'm good to go, but given Paris's heat, it's still not enough. 

Luckily, there is a pharmacy still open at the station.  "Avez vous poudre pour bébé?" I inquire, after having spent a good five minutes searching the baby aisle looking for anything resembling baby powder.   Dude looks at me like I'm nuts. "Que désirez-vous?"  "Uh... poudre de... um... what is baby powder when it's not baby powder - talcum?"  "Ah!  Poudre de talc!"  "Oui!"  I give him a huge thumbs up.  He goes to the back section that houses all the heavy duty drugs and comes out with a box of talcum powder.

"Success?" asks David, upon my return.

"Success!  Now we just need to locate a salle de bain where I can powder these gams!"

An item of note: you have to pay .75 Euros to enter a bathroom in Paris. 
I hang my bag on the back of the door and open the box, which contains a plastic bag full of talcum powder. I look like I have about a 1/2 kilo of coke.  I examine the box again.  There are no perforations, no place that I can tear away to conveniently fold the remaining cardboard over which provides wee little holes so that when I open my 1/2 kilo of talc I can tap-tap-tap it without ending up looking like I've decided to do performance art in a Parisian bathroom.
I tear into the corner of the plastic bag with my teeth and dump a toonie-sized amount of talcum into my left hand.  1/4 of a cup of talcum lands on the floor.

Another item of note:  when I go into les toilettes I am wearing this:

Yes, there is a ginormous crinoline under the dress

I balance the bag precariously on the round toilet paper dispenser and lift my skirt, attempting to navigate through my crinoline to my naked thighs.  I don't succeed.  This is a two-hand job, so to speak.  But seeing as one hand is covered in talcum, and I'm wearing navy blue, that's not an option.  I try again.  I fail.  I am now stuck in a Parisian toilette, more than enough talcum at hand to solve my sticky thigh issue, but unable to powder.   I contemplate getting Rissa to pay .75 Euros to come in and hold my skirt up.  That's when I start giggling.  After another failed attempt, I lean my back against one wall of the stall, put my right foot on the opposite wall and fluff my crinoline and skirt up, holding them to my chest with my chin.  It appears that given the ferocious Parisian heat, the amount of powder that I have in one hand can only really do one thigh.    Still holding my garments under my chin, I manage to pour more powder into my hand and powder the other thigh.  I'm snorting to myself as I wash my hands.

"All good?" asks David as I step out.

"No problem.  From now on, when I say something is impossible?  Remind me of this."

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