Wednesday, January 12, 2011

People Watching in Paris

About a month ago, I went on a last-minute trip to Paris for the weekend. My husband was traveling to Europe for work and discovered he had enough frequent flier miles for me to hop over there for free. Couldn't turn that offer down! (Here we are at the Louvre.)


One of the things I loved while visiting Paris was watching the people. It was made all the more interesting since I didn't speak the language. It allowed me to stretch my creativity and figure out what their stories were.

So I thought we could have some fun today. I'll introduce you to four people I watched while I was there and I want you to pick one or more of them and tell me what YOU think their story is.
1) A bird of a woman cut in front of us in the long line to Saint Chapelle, when only ten people stood behind us. She carried an oversized bag and inspected the sidewalk before setting her bag down in a very precise manner. Then she danced out of line and looked down the street in both directions until the line moved forward, at which point she danced back into line, grabbed her satchel, and inspected the next bit of sidewalk before carefully setting the bag down again. She repeated this routine over and over.

2) A 60ish-year-old man rode on my plane back to the U.S. He had a scruffy beard and glasses and traveled with a European tour group. Every twenty minutes or so, he stood from his seat and wandered the aisles, then stopped at a different row to speak to the person there (almost always female). I was traveling alone and about halfway through the flight, he stopped at my seat, gave me a smile that bordered on flirtatious, and said, "Parlez vous Francais?" I shook my head and said, "No, no je parle Francais. Je parle Anglais." He responded by giving me another icky smile and speaking in something that was definitely not French or English. I figured it out to be German and again, shook my head. Twenty minutes later, he stopped two rows in front of me and found a beautiful blond woman who happened to speak French. Need I bother mention that he spent a few extra minutes there?

3) While we ate supper at a cafe one night, a young couple rode up on their motor-scooter and sat at a table outside to grab a smoke. They didn't engage in the usual PDA found in Paris. About 15 minutes after they arrived, another guy came up to them and greeted the girl with a kiss on the lips then sat across the table. After that exchange, the girl put her hand on the original guy's shoulder and sat much more cozily with him (not touching Guy #2 at all after the kiss) until they all parted ways.

4) An older man got me belly laughing at a Christmas Market near the Eiffel Tower. Take a look at this video and focus on the man on stage. He practiced this routine over and over again. Dancing forward then backward, then taking a minute to coach himself before he did it again. I couldn't resist capturing him on camera. :) (I had to cut it short, though, 'cuz my camera battery was low.)














So tell me...What are their stories?

UPDATE: For those of you begging for more pictures (Casey and Sherrinda :)), here they are...





The view from our hotel room. Hey, don't accuse me of rubbing it in. You asked for them. :)









Inside Saint Chapelle (where Bird Woman cut in front of us in line...I promise I'm not bitter.)



Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe (It was beautiful at night with all the Christmas lights, but alas, my camera didn't take good night pictures.)



View from the Christmas market (Can't blame the guy in the video for dancing with this as his backdrop.)



Me in front of my future residence, The Palace at Versailles. Well, okay, the closest I'll get to living in a place like this is in heaven.

29 comments:

Gia said...

Perhaps the couple from number 3 are spying on the man with the kiss. LOL Perhaps they work for the government, playing at being married to keep their cover--but secretly, they are repulsed by one another. The man is overbearing and curt in everything he says. The woman, wounded in the past, is recklessly independent and can take care of herself. Give 'em some time together, but 'em in hot enough water, and they'll start to grow on each other. Maybe even fall in love. ;)

I have no idea.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Gia, I love it! So now the question is what's the story for the man who comes in for the kiss. Maybe he's the one they're investigating...Hmm, for what?

Angie said...

Sarah! Love it! People are so fun to watch...especially when you are in such a diverse place in Paris. To suggest a couple of ideas...
I wonder if the first woman was a gypsy, wanting to get out of the elements for a bit, but she also is concerned with getting her only possessions soiled on the gritty streets of the big city?
And the couple outside of the cafe...perhaps the girl knows that the second guy is interested, but doesn't want to tell him she isn't interested, so she's using her best guy friend (first guy) as a love interest to show him for sure?
Wow, I could see an author incorporating either of these scenarios in a story! Such fun!
Did you see the man outside the louvre, dressed like a golden Egyptian statue? He was there both times I went to Paris.
I think the most intriguing people to watch in that city are the gypsies...you usually can tell the ones that are trying to pull one over, and then the ones who are really in need. I wonder if the locals get apathetic after a while...even when there are children involved in such noticeable poverty?
Anyway, I am rambling, thanks for the post!

Gia said...

Sarah, they've probably come to assassinate him. And then they end up arguing and messing it all up, blowing their cover and nearly getting themselves killed. The man doesn't end up assassinated, instead, gets away and comes after them. Perhaps this is where the REALLY hot water comes to play. LOL ;)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Angie, I didn't think about that woman being a gypsy, but you're probably right. At the time, she sort of creeped me out. I kept thinking, "What's she hiding in that bag? A bomb?" LOL My husband kept accusing me of having an overactive imagination on that trip. I guess that's what time away from motherhood does to me. :) And I do remember seeing the Egyptian statue. I don't remember exactly where...probably was in front of the Louvre like you said. Such an interesting city!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oohhh, Gia, I love it. And that's why they drive a motor-scooter so they can weasel their way through traffic for a fast getaway.

Angie said...

I saw him on one of the bridges behind the Louvre...

Wow, I am not as creative with quick thinking, I love Gia's idea! :)

Gia said...

Thanks, Angie, but your idea is much sweeter. :)

Casey said...

You have GOT to be kidding about #3. I know you were already talking about it, but that is just so crazy!

And I want to lodge a formal complaint- You only had ONE picture! Sarah! Sigh. *shakes head*

Story for couple number 3...

What if this young woman is trying to choose a mate and can't decide between the two men? What if they are in a challenge to see which one she ends up loving/liking better?

Sounds like a comedy routine...What interesting observations though! Wouldn't want to take on that man's story though. Little too much for me there.

Sarah Forgrave said...

LOL, Sorry for the lack of pictures, Casey. I was trying to declutter. :) And I figured the video might make up for it.

Couple #3 is popular...So if they're in a challenge, let's figure out what the kiss meant. Maybe she told Guy #2 she doesn't kiss until the third date, and when he comes up and plants one on her in front of the other guy, she officially ditches him for good. I'm sure there's a better twist than that...

Casey said...

Like the third date concept...but what if she said that to the guy who kissed, but didn't say that to the other one? And that was date number 4 for him? What would be going through his mind??

*throws hands in the air* I don't know! Maybe that's how people greet each other over there. *shudder*, think I'll stick with the date scenerio.

;)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Lol, Casey, we were totally baffled by that scenario when we witnessed it. It's fun to read all the brainstorms people come up with.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

How much fun are you! Wonder what you observed of me during ACFW? Love that man's dance. I dance like that. Yes, yes I do and I don't talk to men like that on planes. I make up my own language and make 'em think I'm crazy b/c you know what, I can be! :D
~ Wendy

Debbie Clark said...

The 60ish year old man in story #2 was probably looking for a someone to pick up. Not the type of person that I would want to meet & hang out with in Europe. He probably has a wife & ten kids at home that he doesn't want to think about while he is traveling & having fun. He must have a certain female that he is looking for--not English or American.

Sherrinda said...

Ooo, I love Paris! And I'm with Casey! Where's all the pictures?

Now I was wondering about how they greet people in France. Is it usually with a kiss on the lips? I bet it guy # 2 is the brother. Bahahahah!

Love the creativity, girl!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wendy, would you believe I thought of you when I saw that man dancing? A fellow free spirit.

And I promise I keep my head about me when talking to men on planes. He really didn't seem as threatening as I portrayed him here. He was with a completely normal-looking group of tourists who all appeared to be friends with him and got a good laugh out of his antics. I debated whether to include that in my description, but it was already getting long-winded.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Debbie, Ohhh, ten kids...Love that! Now let's think why he doesn't want an English or American woman...been burned in the past? Maybe he's in the German army and has some long-lost love from his war days (okay, now I'm jumping back further in time than I should, but let's roll with it). :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Sherrinda, I couldn't get a sense of how they greet each other. I definitely saw a lot of PDA, but I'm thinking the standard greeting was more of a kiss on each cheek.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, I fulfilled your request for more pictures. :)

Sherrinda said...

Oh, very nice, indeed! LOVE the pictures! Isn't the stained glass amazing? Were you able to see Notre Dame? It was dark in there, but absolutely breathtaking. Sigh, I'm going to go back some day. You can come with me and we'll revisit our favorite stops. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Sherrinda, Yes, we did see Notre Dame. Absolutely beautiful. Except I must say I was a bit intimidated by the armed guards out front. Yikes! :) I'd love to go back and just spend hours in a cafe doing more people watching. The cafe au laits were divine, especially with a chocolate crepe to go with them.

Angie said...

I am so jealous...beautiful pictures! I think they do kiss on the lips more casually over there...something I am glad we haven't picked up on over here as much...I am to squeamish! :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Me too, Angie. I'm good with a handshake or a hug. :)

Pepper said...

I think guy #1 was probably a better kisser ;-)
She got to try out guy #2 kiss and realized it was mediocre. She's stick with the original.

Great pics and funny dancing, Sarah. What a blast. You and your hubby make a cute couple too. The lights are lovely.

And the whole kissing perfect strangers?!? Oh,come on guys - it would TOTALLY depend on the stranger :-)

Pepper said...

Okay - the bird lady...
A valuable item was inside her purse and she had to meet her contact there to hand over the item. Because the contents were fragile, she had to place the bag down carefully.

Okay- it's late. I'm getting into crazy answers now :-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for adding the pictures, Sarah. It must have been amazing to see so many famous sights. And the view out your hotel window? All I can say is WOW!

Our daughter is studying German and French in college. She plans to spend some time living in Germany and France after she graduates. I never made it to France when we lived in Europe. After seeing your pictures and reading your snippets of life in Paris, I think I'd like to visit--with our daughter as a translator, of course.

Sarah Forgrave said...

LOL, Pepper, I love the kissing idea with #3! And your answers totally aren't crazy...Sometimes the best ideas come when we're feeling loopy. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Keli, You lived in Europe?! How did I not know this? Where? What was it like? Do you miss it? Okay, 21 Questions are over now. :)

And yes, having a translator in Paris would be awesome, especially your daughter! Before we went, I'd heard they can be rude if you don't speak their language. I found that if I at least tried, they were pretty helpful. But overall, I felt very lost and a translator would have been wonderful!

Keli Gwyn said...

Sarah, when I met my hubby, I knew his dream was to get a teaching job in Germany. Since I'd chosen to take German in high school, I figured the Lord had been preparing me for that opportunity.

Shortly after we were married, God granted Gwynly the desire of his heart. We headed to Germany in 1989 and lived there four and a half years. He was a civilian who taught the dependents of U.S. Army personnel at Nürnberg American High School.

We enjoyed our time in Germany and still have friends there whom we've visited a few times. We made a small army of wonderful friends from among the military community as well and are still in touch with many of them to this day. I have the utmost respect for those in our armed forces.

We lived in Germany when the Cold War ended and the country was reunified. Talk about seeing history in action. Sadly, we also saw our military community become a ghost town when the first Gulf War began and a huge portion of the troops in our area were sent, leaving their families alone on foreign soil. We welcomed our upstairs neighbor back with miles of yellow ribbon tied around every post and pillar when his unit returned months later.

Since my hubby is a teacher, we were able to travel throughout Europe during his vacations. I've been to Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia (and later the Czech Republic) England, Italy, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Holland, and Switzerland.

We drove through France en route to England but only stopped once to buy a map and get a stamp in my passport. Since I know a grand total of ten French words, that was an interesting experience. That's why I would only go back if I had a translator. =)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, fascinating, Keli! We'll have to set aside time at the next conference to talk at length about all your travels. I can't imagine being in Germany when the Cold War ended...amazing!

And it sounds like your knowledge of French is about the same as mine. :)