I'm still getting used to this whole blogging thing and I accidentally prematurely posted this post yesterday at about 3pm west coast time. This was not on purpose. So I removed it, did some proofreading (though I'm sure there are still some typos) and picture-fied it. Sorry for the repeat!
I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was in the DDR back before the wall fell. I thought this was France where people are allowed to smoke in hospitals and bring their dogs into restaurants. Oh the naivete. Tonight after I consumed the most expensive burger I've ever had (and let me just say, it was SO not worth it) I arrived at my metro stop, ascended the stairs, and was stopped by the metro police who were lying in wait for unknowing victims like us. Christy, Mr. Johnson, and I were all asked to pass over our metro cards, and guess what? We were then all asked to bend over and take it as they demanded an extra 25 euros from us because we didn't have our names or pictures on them. Gotcha!
Metro cards aren't cheap. They're 65 euros if you're not French. And considering how much I take the metro it's barely worth it. Dump another 25 euros on top of that and I may well just break the rules completely and only buy the children's tickets. These cops were like most American meter maids in the sense that they were not open for discussion or excuses, had horrible attitudes, and were enjoying their abuse of authority all too much. Add on top of that a good seasoning of "French-ness" and I was about to go postal on their asses. Sure it's techincally my fault because I didn't get my shit together and put my name and picture on it but I've gotten pulled over without current insurance or registration and managed to get away with a smile and an act of stupidity. Tonight we had already handed over our money and when Christy said, "What the fuck?!" the woman metro authority said essentially the French equivalent of "Watch your language!" with a patronizing and bitchy flare to it. I'm sorry, am I supposed to be happy that I'm paying you even more you horrid woman? Is the small amount of power you have not enough? Would you like to restrain the words I can use as well?
The truth is, moments like these make me really miss home. Sure the American justice system has it's own serious problems but at least I'm immune to them. I know what to expect, what excuses to have stored in my pockets, and I'm rarely surprised when something jumps up and bites me in the ass. But top this off after a night at an "American" restaurant and I'm practically drooling for a good old Highway Patrolman and some Chili's BBQ ribs. Hell, I think I'd even hug a meter maid.
Tonight was Christy's birthday. Well, actually, tomorrow night is Christy's birthday but she has to work and so we went and celebrated tonight instead. Some French girl Christy knows recommended an American restaurant to her as being very good and the "first New York restaurant in Paris." I keep trying to find out what this meant. What is traditional "New York" food, after all? American food in general is quite diverse and hard to pin down. Was this going to be thin crust pizza and Gray's Papaya hot dogs? We looked up the menu and it was essentially traditional American food. Burgers. Fries. Steak. While I don't think I would ever in a million years choose to go to this place, it's Christy's birthday so why should I care? And a decent burger is always a sight for sore eyes. So I put on my not-so-sunday best and we hopped the metro to go to First Avenue.
Here's the thing. The restaurant wasn't bad. The ambiance was great. The restaurant is situated behind a tennis court and is in a wonderful space with high ceilings and hard cement walls juxtapositioned against white detailing and modern yet delicate light fixtures. The furniture is wood and warm and it looks like a cool place to eat. The menu is quite limited and quite expensive. But since it is France, especially Paris, I wasn't too surprised after checking out the swanky digs. But truth be told I was a bit disappointed.
I should've known that a hamburger in Paris just couldn't compare to the copious amounts of choice burgers I've had back in the states. I was at least expecting it to be a decent "frenchified" version. But no, it was trying to be American and it just failed. I'm not saying it was a bad burger. It may be the best burger you can get in Paris. But for 16 € I expected some foie gras, some truffle oil, some carmelized onions, shit some onions at all. Instead it was your run of the mill burger on a sesame seed bun. The bun may have been tasty and the tomato may have been heirloom but other than that I was less than impressed.
There are so many, SO many places back home that do a much better job for half the price. Phyllis's in San Rafael where the burgers are greasy and comforting and where they have thick delicious onion rings to compliment them is one of my all time favs. The Cherry Cricket in Denver is top notch and the fact that you have a plethora of extras to add (including an over easy egg which is my personal choice) makes it oh so American because it mirrors our freedom of choice. Let freedom ring! And while you're at it, add some more gooey calories onto my greasy meat patty. Thanks!
The best moment of the night, however, was when I looked around and noticed how my fellow friends were eating their burgers. Sure this was a high class establishment with shiny lights and pretty windows. Sure the burgers were tall and the buns were soft. But never, ever, have I seen so many people eat a burger with... A FORK AND KNIFE! I was stunned. I tried to pester them into eating them with their hands, stating that no American would be caught dead eating a burger with a fork and knife unless they had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I even chided Mr. Johnson on his failure to be manly. "I thought you were a real man," I said, "real men eat their burgers with their hands ya know." I even tried to be a good example (I am the only American by the way) and ate my burger with both hands. I may have been in a sexy black one shoulder dress but I massacred that thing like Freddy Kruger on a teenage girl. Yet, no matter what I tried they still continued to eat with a knife and fork like civilized people. Oh, America, how I miss thee.
This is the thing. France has a lot of cool stuff. It's beautiful here. There are a lot of old buildings, old buildings with meaning, museums full of incredible art work. There are handfuls and handfuls and handfuls or adorable boutiques, pastry shops, cheese shops, wine shops, meat shops and so on. And obviously all that exists and lives on because the people here love it and cherish it and nurture it. There is a respect for that culture here and I must say that I do love it.
But when it comes right down to it I am American at heart. We may have some serious issues. I may not be crazy about all things American. But just like in a family you cannot have the good without the bad and America feels like family to me. It feels like home. In fact, I probably miss it more than any single person at home. I'm so busy being emotionally drained by my internship to miss my mom, my two kick ass (or as my four year old nephew says, pick-axe) sisters, my friends. But in every encounter I take part in I am aware that I am in another country and thus miss my own. My motherland. America. The United States. The land of the free and the home of the brave. How cool are we, by the way, that that is our tagline? We may be fat and lazy to some people but I think you can't be fat and lazy without being free and brave at the same time. So bring me a nice old juicy burger with cheese, a fat plate of greasy onion rings with ranch dressing, a chocolate malt, and pile of napkins because I'm ready to dine on American pride.