I spent some lucky days in Paris on my own. A big treat, as I usually travel with others – and fantastic, hilarious, inspiring, debauched others, which is joyous and wonderful but it’s a rare beautiful moment that I am by myself. The hotel I originally booked wouldn’t let me check in, and after almost running over a fresh and fully formed dog shit pile at the entrance, I had to leave my bags there to find another one. It was alright in the end. The new hotel wasn’t fancy but it was good enough, right in Le Marais, my favorite neighborhood, all sprawled across the 3 and 4th arrondissement, whatever that means.
I got all French and put my dirty hair in a topknot and put no makeup on miss face and walked from shop to shop to get each thing I wanted to eat. Wine, a chicken, jamon, fig cakes, macarons, dark chocolate bars, a big baguette – which I also found drastically reduces the famously European sexual advances – somehow the bread is a defense and a chastener and makes you look like you belong and are not available for nonsense. Like a nun’s habit and a guitar. I am up for nunsense but not nonsense Monsieur.
I walked into a cheese shop, more like a stall, and the smell punched me in the face. I stood speechless in front of the cheesemonger, looking for the right French words. Nothing came – except “uh yeah, hook me up”. He understood somehow and cut me a fat wedge of comte, and that cheese and I went back to my room. It was golden and creamy and sweated like a man in his early forties during the night. That cheese snored. That cheese had sleep apnea. It had a moldy rind and a bitter back end and I ate off that living thing for three days without accompaniment or refrigeration. I went to bed and the cheese was there. I woke up and that cheese was there. The ripe, rotting decay of the dairy set a green finger under my nose in the morning and I didn’t even need a café au lait to get me going. I realized that the comte was not a male but a female about 28 hours into our relationship. That cheese got its period. Me and Mrs. Comte – we got a thing going on. I ate that cheese and I left that cheese when I couldn’t bring it with me to England. It was just too stinky to take. Too moldy and raging and alive and delicious and devoured even though there was a lot left. I couldn’t be smuggling that comte over the border. It was a drug and should have been illegal. The bread was good too. I actually lay down in between the sheets to consume a crusty and hard baguette, the outside brittle and scabby and littering the bed with flakes and crumbs, and the inside soft and white and doughy, filling by mouth with the utter neutrality of flour, that strange nothingness we seek from carbs, that empty fullness. The bread mess got all over the floor and the maid actually gasped “Alors!” when she opened the door to my room. I felt like a junkie. Yes I am a food addict and because of this I avoid most things, but when is eating addiction and when is it pleasure? I think that in France, it’s just pleasure. What happens in France, stays in France, like comte and crumbs.