How do you say, “Pick on someone your own size”?

Paris, Île-de-France, France
November 14, 2014


 Musee d’Arcy

I had my first encounter with a rude Parisienne today. I suppose it had to happen. Part of the experience.

i was on the fifth floor of the d’Arcy Musee, a beautiful train station converted into an art museum, just an exquisite building in its own right. I was somewhere between Renoir and Monet when a pale young lady, must have been 14, American, and clearly nervous, briefly set her foot onto the clear acrylic bench where I and others were seated to tie her shoe.

An elderly docent who I suspect collaborated with the Nazis emerged from the shadows, first scolded the poor young lady in French, and then when it was clear she didn’t understand the indictment, berated her in English reminding her how expensive the acrylic bench was, and what lack of respect she had shown by placing the dirty sole of her shoe on it.

The poor kid was on the verge of tears, clearly bewildered at what she had done. I could tell she was American, so I turned to her and whispered “Don’t worry, I think it will survive.”

O M D….that’s French for “oh mon dieu”…I suppose she thought I was the poor young lady’s father, because Madame LeFarge lit into me with a Franco bitterness not seen since the Prussians took Alsace-Lorraine. . . “You Ah–mare–ee–cans; you have no respect.” As my French was too weak to respond, and as I thought it might not draw crowd support to use my friend Ian’s summation of the French as “quiche eating surrender monkeys, I instead closed ranks with the . . . Hold it. . . Let me pull up my Google Translate . . No . . .”chienne” is just a female dog . . and resorted to the classic, universally understood, needs no language . . . “stank eye” . . .to convey myself, while the poor young lady’s real parents hustled her away to the cafeteria.

i suppose the poor thing will forever have a bitter taste in her mouth, as may her parents. Such a pity. What should have been an inspiring visit to see some of the great art treasures of the world was likely ruined. . . As adolescent embarrassment can . . by a misunderstanding.

Bark at some dim wit who uses a flash camera in front of a graphic sign depicting no flash cameras; fair game. Chide some doofus who neglects to turn off his cell phone where signs everywhere show graphically a cell phone with a diagonal line. But lay off the girl Madame Trussaud. it’s a plastic bench, not a work of Art, and you’re a bitter old artistic aristocrat who belongs in a Daumier caricature on the first floor.


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