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we spent at the Louvre. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t bad. We got a bit of a late start and were a bit grouchy, and I’m not really that into that much Italian Renaissance art. Of course …

I saw the slaughtered ox. The Rembrandt. Oh man, it was so cool. Back story. My parents had this “Great Artists” series of art books when I was growing up. Basically picture books, one per Great Artist. I used to lay in the hallway in front of my room and page through Cezanne! Toulouse-Loutrec! But by far my favorite was Rembrandt, because there was this picture of a giant side of beef hanging upside down with all the guts everywhere. You can imagine what something like that would do for a six-year-old. And then I sort of forgot about art and got really into music until I got to college. I ran into some more Rembrandt, which I loved, so I picked up a used complete works of coffee-table book. And when I saw the slaughtered ox, it was like the first time all over again (although I did not remember it, oddly). So I showed it to my mother, and she was all, of course you like that picture, you always have.

I went back to the great books in the hall, paged through, and the slaughtered ox was missing! Apparently my wondertwin brother had used the picture for an art project in high school. Little bastard. Anyway, the book said it was at the Louvre, and that was when my heart sank. I was quite the young Teuton as a youngster, having had by the tender age of 20, a 12-year love affair with Bach. I took German in high school because, “Germans are the best at everything important: music, art, math, science, logic, philosophy.” I think that literally came out of my mouth. And of course one is not allowed to like German culture and French culture at the same time. It just doesn’t work that way. So I thought I would never see that picture because that would require an actual trip to France.

So there it was. Total awesomeness. And I dutifully made my way around the galleries to check out everything else, but it just doesn’t grab me the same way. The giant winged statue was pretty hot, that’s true (in fact, I just watched Funny Face again this weekend, and I had forgotten the scene where Audrey Hepburn plays at being that statue). Mona Lisa was OK. I really don’t get all the fuss.

We took a break to walk around outside in the beautiful day. We went shopping, landed in this men’s shop with a darling gayboy taking care of J. They had this shirt that I knew would be just perfect. So the gayboy ran around and we were as snarky as two people could be while not actually understanding the other person. It was such a blast! So we finally got J a cool piece in his wardrobe. We also picked me up some adorable butterfly sandals. And we grabbed a coffee in this little divey bar. It was all very very good.

Afterward, we walked to the musee d'orse, which was hot on the outside, but was closed. so we walked back to a cutish area of town, along the seine, and caught a lovely sunset. and it was, you know, all romantic and stuff. afterward, we got caught in a touristed part of town, so we hit an internet cafe for a minute, and then headed off to a nice little restaurant.
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We had a choice of layovers: Paris or Prague. Naturally, both of us being misfrancophilic, we chose Prague. Czech Republic? So 90s, so grunge boho, and then plus, you know how I feel about Eastern European intellectual types. Yummy. What did Paris have to offer? Saint-Saens. Monet. Sartre. French grand opera. Fucking Proust. How is it possible to write that many volumes on chasing a girl, when you’re gay?

Of course, turns out it was like $400 less expensive to fly through Paris, so guess where we went?

Turns out, Paris actually kind of rocks. And it kind of rocked even though it was the end of July. The Notre Dame was a bit overrun by tourists, and the Louvre probably had more than a few, but it was surprisingly empty everywhere else we went. Not empty, maybe, but at least sort of normalish to a New Yorker. The supposed rudeness of Parisians toward non-French-speakers was nowhere to be found, and the weather was perfect.

So anyway. The flight was a total disaster. I flew from JFK, J flew from Newark, both flights took off super late, like by hours. J was smart enough to make a plan B … should we not find each other at the airport 3 hours after we were supposed to get in, meet at the hotel. I cannot believe we actually had to resort to that plan. J took off two hours late, I took off three hours late, and of course, both of us were actually on the plane for those hours, with no information until we were to take off. So neither of us had any idea when the other would show up.

I get to CDG, no J, so I head to our hotel, which was pretty easy to find (and thank goodness for not over-packing. J had just gotten there. I walk in the room, and it’s … I can’t even say, it was so awesome. It was tiny, the bed taking up most of the room, but it was one of those memory-foam mattresses. So. Good. Everything we could need to be comfortable. And a window and a view. I seriously felt like Helena Bonham Carter in Room with a View. It was a set of double doors that opened out into this beautiful sky and looked into other apartments and it was so nice. The area contains one of the famous cemeteries (not the Jim Morrison one, the other one), so it’s all wooded and pretty.

We nap for a bit, grab a bite, and head to Notre Dame for the most touristy thing we did the entire time. The day was a bit rainy, but in this pretty, steamy way. The “bad” weather kept away a lot of people I think. There were still a number of people, but it was pretty low-key. I wasn’t overly into the Notre Dame so much. I mean, it’s impressive that it’s so old and so much has happened there. But it’s kind of a homely building, particularly on the outside. The inside is a bit nicer, some of the stained glass windows are actually rather lovely. But it actually reminded me a bit of St. Paul’s in London. It was important to see, but really kind of ugly. And I think I enjoyed St. Paul’s more, because I knew more about all the intrigue that went on there.

I think Catholicism is hilarious though. Some of the statues were really macabre and funny. And there were these doohickey vending machines all around and pay 3Euro for a prayer and I don’t know. Old habits die hard? Or maybe it’s all very cynical and I just don’t want to see the joke.

The also visited the rest of the area. Walked around looking at various and sundry Old Important Buildings, and went into the jail where Marie Antoinette was kept before her beheading. I have to say, whoever put together that museum did a totally rad job. There were all these wax figures and educational videos and it was done in this really ebullient kind of way. It was cool. And it was really incredible to see the poor conditions of jails back in the day. You cannot imagine. For the millionth time, I am left thinking, as bad as things can be in the modern era, I can’t think of another I’d prefer.

Afterward, we walked around a bit, and took a little walk suggested by my tourbook of the other island. There were no touristy destinations there, but that was when it started kicking in, the whole, we’re in Paris thing. No tourist destinations and the weather made for a sweet time. We looked at chocolate shops and boutiques and meat shops and cafes and little passageways and gates and paths. We checked things out. Very cozy.

After taking a bit of a rest, we went to a bar late in the evening, and sat outside, ate French fries and drank monk beer. I wore my Italian film star dress and our waiter was efficient and the people next to us smoked and we were all romantic at each other because what else could we do?

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