Of course this means my flight is late. But it is so late that I would like to call it retarded, since I have seen this flashing “retardé” sign for about 15 hours now. Thank god this is on our way home and thank god we don’t have children with us. Actually, there are very few children around at all, thank god, because if they were as tired as I am, they would be unbearably cranky.
We happen to be stuck in Paris. No, it is not the worst place in the world to be stuck. In fact, we checked our bags in here at the airport, then took a train back into Paris. We got there around 3:00 in the afternoon, and went straight for the biggest shopping stores in Paris. We had no idea that the entire thing, two huge stores occupying several blocks, would be closed. I guess there is no shopping on Sunday in France, who knew? So we headed for the nearest café, which was occupied completely by other people who came to the area to shop and now had nothing else to do. Fueled by caffeine and a desire to stay awake until on our flight, we decided to just walk around a bit. Several miles later, past the Opera, the Louvre, the Tuilleries Gardens with little boys sailing boats in the fountain, we ended up on the Champs Elysess. It was a warm sunny day, the nicest day of our trip. We started to sit down at another café, but we were redirected away from the premium table on the sidewalk to one just inside the café. We ordered two café au laits and just sat and watched people.
Soon, the scene around us came into focus. We noted that the café managers and waiters were super-watchful and zipping around. Somewhat unusual. For Paris. Then we noted the double row of cars parked along the Champs Elysess. All Mercedes. Next we noticed the tall men in nice, custom-made suits keeping a watchful eye on the seating area. The drivers/security gentlemen, working the cell phones, never sitting down. Yes, OK, I see the tall, thin, exquisitely beautiful model sitting across the way with her companion. My friend Paree, People Magazine expert, would know exactly who she was I’m sure. Wait . . . my god, can it be? Impossible! She is eating a piece of white baguette with butter on it. Newsflash: low-carb and low-fat are OUT.
But the drivers/body guards are not there to watch a skinny woman eating bread. They are there to watch a rather large collection of Middle-Eastern men and women, sitting in small groups, drinking coffees and eating desserts. There are two women sitting right next to us, and they seem to know many of the other women walking by. One woman is veiled, one is not. They are sitting so close to me that I can’t properly check them out without being awkward. Gradually I become aware that there are quite a few people, at a polite distance from the café (this is France), checking who is there. Not one person is looking at the model. Instead they are looking at the women, their hair covered, designer glasses covering most of their face except for their lips slathered with Dior or Chanel lipstick. They are looking at the men, with their oiled hair, massive watches, their aura of power, privilege and raw wealth. They have private jets dripping off them.
I have no idea who these people were. I can guess though. Saudi royalty?
So I know you don’t feel sorry for me that I am stuck in Paris. But our flight is going to Houston, and all the people stuck with us are Texan. They are harder to understand than the French and definitely not as polite. And the flight is STILL retarded. So now you can feel just a little sorry for me y’all.