An evening in Paris

We arrived in Paris about four in the afternoon and, after a really scary ride across town in a couple of taxis, we got to the hotel.  The six of us kids were on our best behavior now.  We certainly didn’t want to cause Arlo or Mama any trouble.  We retired to our rooms (the three of us guys in one and the three girls in another) to get ready for the evening.  Parisians don’t really start their night life until around seven or eight in the evening Arlo told us, so dinner would be at around six.

The three of us sat around the room and talked about the trip.  Benny asked me point-blank if I had anything to do with Virginia’s deep tan; meaning her flush.  I knew what he meant and replied that I did.  He gave me a thumbs-up and asked the same question of Art.  Art didn’t look as happy as I did so we had to interpret that as a negative.  I resolved then and there to ask Virginia if she could help.  Benny started to relate his experiences with Carol but I rose and went to the bathroom for a shower.  I decided that Benny was one of the shallow ones that didn’t respect Carol at all.  I would never violate the Code of Guy by squealing on him but I sure wouldn’t trust him with any of my secrets.

Eventually we all showered and put on our suits for an evening out.  We had reservations down in the hotel dining room for six-thirty.  Promptly at six twenty-five, we knocked at the door to the girl’s room and were told to come in.  While we guys had been bullshitting each other, they had been down in the beauty parlor getting their hair made up.  Virginia looked absolutely stunning in a bright yellow dress.  Her hair was piled up on her head and her neck was adorned with a single strand of pearls.  She looked about twenty-five years old.  I felt completely gawky in her presence.

We crossed over to our dates and I, for one, kissed Virginia’s hand over a deep bow.  I know, it’s corny, but being a teenager in love and in Paris all at the same time makes a guy just want to be corny.  I said in my best through the nose Maurice Chevalier voice (which was really terrible) that she was ‘ravi-shing, ho, ho’.  She thanked me with a short curtsey, linked her arm into mine and we headed for the door.  Art and Benny didn’t have a clue.  Love was all about being able to be silly with each other, not just being there.

As we left the room (Carol and Shirley weren’t quite ready yet) we rang for the elevator.  I was feeling on top of the world right now.  I was out on the town in Paris, of all places, with a beautiful girl and a pocket full of money.  As we descended to the lobby, I fielded a great kiss from Virginia and a reflected glance from the elevator operator.  He couldn’t have been more than a couple of years older than I.  His look told me everything – I was envied.  There was no doubt of that.  His wistful glance as we kissed told it all.  I was ready to fight off wild animals for her; at least Pepe Le Peu.

I recalled my promise to see if Virginia could help Shirley with Art so I asked her if something had happened between the two of them.  She told me that Shirley was in tears at first because Art had only wanted to start taking off her clothes in the compartment and he wouldn’t stop when Shirley asked him to.  What really made her sad was that Art had torn her new blouse – ripped three buttons right off and tore a seam – in his haste to undress her.  She fended him off by rushing into the bathroom and locking the door.  By the time she finished with her tale, I was ready to bust Art in the mouth for being such a jerk.  Virginia pleaded with me not to say anything though.  I reluctantly said I wouldn’t.

At dinner, our conversation revolved around our trip to the Eiffel Tower tomorrow.  I don’t remember too much about dinner except for two things, Virginia’s nylon-covered toe sliding up my leg, and my first restaurant order of Escargot (snails).  The first was delightful, and the second was tasty – or was it the other way around?  Luckily, the tablecloth was long enough to hide my erection until it subsided.  You think it’s tough to be middle-aged or beyond?  Try being a teenager with a very healthy libido that keeps popping erections when you can’t do anything about them.

The Eiffel Tower was a great experience.  During the ride up, the elevator starts almost sideways as it ascends up a leg of the tower and then slowly begins a more vertical climb.  Sort of like dinner last night – if you know what I mean.  The small restaurant at the top was closed, but there were several vendors with soft drinks and the like available.  When we walked out on the viewing platform, Virginia’s dress inflated fully and snapped into the air from a gust of wind.  It happened just like Marilyn Monroe’s dress in “The Seven Year Itch”.  As I was apparently the only one to see those wonderful legs and garter belt (remember those, girls?), it was no big deal, but she got a little embarrassed over it.  I found out the next day when Benny got into bigmouth mode that he’d seen it too.  I almost pasted him one for the comment as he made it sound unclean somehow.

Speaking of pasting someone, I broke my promise to Virginia by taking Art aside and asking what the hell he was thinking of by attacking Shirley like that.  He was thoroughly chagrined by his actions and vowed to make it up to her.  It seems he had gone down to the bar car with Arlo and Mama and had one beer with them.  German beer is of a much higher percentage of alcohol than American beer and it went directly to his head.  He apologized profusely to me for being such a jerk.  I told him he needed to ask Shirley’s forgiveness much more than mine.

Random thought:

French money is very strange.  It appears to get larger in physical size as the denominations grow.  Don’t get me wrong, they are a beautiful work of art and the American banknotes could take a lesson from the French, but it fits no wallet an American is likely to be carrying.  The only place you can keep it is in your front pocket.  If you try and cram it all into a wallet, you can’t get it back into your back pocket.  It also makes your sit funny on chairs.

With the advent of the Euro, all this is academic I guess.

On the afternoon of the Eiffel Tower trip, Art asked me if Benny and I could give him a little time with Shirley in our room this evening.  We both said we could probably find somewhere to go for a few hours or so.  Maybe we would take our girls out to dinner.  He thanked us profusely and drifted back to Shirley.  She was still miffed at him.  Miffed is a wonderful word because it conveys so much into one syllable.  She was still miffed at him (I like it, I like it), but agreed to have dinner in his room that night.

Benny asked Carol for the night out and I asked Virginia.  They readily agreed and we hunted for a restaurant close by the hotel.  None of us were adventurous enough with our limited French to attempt a taxi ride anywhere.  We found a nice little bistro two blocks away up a small street (alley, actually) that had a little British flag on the door glass.  We went in and made reservations for the four of us (possibly six as we planned on asking Arlo and Mama to join us).  It turned out that the owner was an expatriated British guy that came to Paris after the war (World War 2, remember, this is 1956), loved it, and stayed with his French wife.  He welcomed us several times and made sure we were booked for seven that night.  No problem adding two to our original four if we wanted to.

It was getting close to five now and we hurried back to the hotel to wash up and change.  Art was in the room, beaming from every pore.  Shirley had agreed to have dinner with him in the room tonight at seven-thirty.  Benny and I told him that we would be gone by then for dinner at “Le Drapeau du Royaume-Uni” or, The Union Jack.  We added that there was no doubt dinner would take us more than three hours – if, for no other reason than the French ate slowly and the waiters moved glacially.

By six-thirty the six of us (Arlo and Mama did join us) were strolling down to the restaurant arm in arm.  Virginia looked especially good as she and Carol had gone shopping and spent a really great amount of money on two dresses each.  Hers was a light brown dress with fluffy skirt and Carol’s was a sheath in green.  Carol gave up on her new high heels halfway there and walked the rest of the way in her bare feet.  The sheath was so tight that Benny had to kneel to take her shoes off.

The owner greeted us like long-lost friends and ushered us to a nice candle lit table set off to one side of a dim room.  Once seated, we were offered drinks.  I chose a glass of wine for both Virginia and I, while Benny wanted just water.  Carol had a lemon soda.  I don’t remember what Arlo and Mama had.  Some type of mixed drink I think.

In due course the dinner arrived in stages and we set to.  Conversation revolved around our experiences in Paris so far, and what we were going to do tomorrow.  Arlo had turned the next day over to us to find our own photo opportunities.  I wanted to see the Louvre and Virginia wanted to visit Notre Dame.  A quick glance at our Paris map showed that they were certainly within walking – or Metro – distance of each other.  Mama reminded the both of us that flash pictures inside the Louvre were not allowed.  Something neither of us knew.  It was sure to be posted all over the place, but possibly only in French.  It was going to be a grand tour.  Dinner ended around nine-thirty and the six of us, now stuffed to the gills, waddled back to the hotel.

When we got to our room Benny knocked softly until he got permission to enter.  Art was at a table reading a guidebook but walked over to me and said that I had saved his life.  He was again back in Shirley’s good graces.  No alcohol was involved, he told us, but just an application of apology and good manners.  I doubt if Benny noticed, but I saw that Art’s bed wasn’t made up to hotel standards at all.  It looked neat, but the pillows were dented and the coverlet was crooked.  I was as happy for them as I was after my first time.  I knew for a fact that it was Art’s first time too.  I silently shook his hand and smiled.

T.O.M.

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