If any of your readers are uncertain about whether Honoré was merely a lonely guy starved for affection, or in fact a dirty old perv… what follows may enable them to conclude.
Honoré loved to watch you. It did not matter what you were doing—reading, eating, staring out a window, working in the fields… he would simply sit and wait, watching. Watching all the time. You learned to keep your eyes down, lest you acknowledge him and elicit another round of “Marriieee! Maahh-reeee! Tu es jolie, Mariieeee! Tu es gentille!’’ Oh God, that drove you up the wall. You were careful never to do ANYTHING to earn another round of hearing your name chanted, grumbled, sung–anything–by Honoré. If you sneezed, or yawned, or tried to pour yourself a glass of water… it did not matter what… he’d give it to you again: “Ohhhhhh, Mari-aahhh. Marrriiieee, Marriiieee!” Sometimes he would simply say it to himself while he worked, as though it had a soothing affect, the way rocking is soothing to an infant. So yeah, the chanting was annoying, but not as annoying as him watching you, waiting for you to notice him watching, BEGGING for you to look up and awknowledge him, the way a dog begs for food at the dinner table. Lonely? Or dirty?
On your SECOND DAY of work, Honoré commented on your piercings, “Tu en as beaucoup!” (You have a lot of them!). You told him that, in fact, you had 19 in total. 14 of them are in your ears, so that leaves a lot to the imagination. Honoré asked you if you had your nipples pierced. When you answered affirmatively, he proceeded to LIFT UP YOUR SHIRT and try to see! Naturally you slapped his hands away. It is decided: perv.
Well, now that you have thoroughly bitched in this entry about your last month, you can move on to more positive things.
Choosing to meet up with Edouard to hang out for a week was probably the second best decision of your life. No joke. You had NO IDEA what amazing things were in store for you. You thought you would just hang around his little college town, Chambéry, play video games, watch movies, and shuffle cards to impress his friends. Oh no…
First of all, his father and sister were with him, and they pretty much included you in their vacation. Second of all, it turns out that Ed’s parents are doctors and have a *cough, hack!* fair amount of disposable income. You did not know this at the time, when they found you rain-soaked, under an archway at your designated meeting place. You had been travelling for 2 days. Ronna, on Tuesday, dropped you on the side of a highway with a jar of chestnut-applesauce, a cardboard sign, and a “good luck.” And good riddance! You stuck your thumb out for… hmmm… a grand total of FIVE SECONDS and landed a ride from a nice guy in a utility truck. This dude had literally WALKED the entire length of Africa when he was younger, and received so much hospitality from many (starving) Africans that he was blown away by the human spirit. He said that, after having that expierence, he had no reason to not help travellers. The two of you talked for a long time, as he was able to give you a ride from the middle of nowhere all the way to Grenoble.
In Grenoble, you found yourself with a day to kill, so you hoofed it all over the city and finally hiked to the top of the Bastille, which was a good decision because the city was too big to simply walk out of. Above the Bastille, high on a mountain, you made camp in a public park, exhausted from carrying your pack for 6 hours. The next day, you walked to the autoroute and held out your thumb for fewer that ten minutes before you were picked up by a happy band of lesbians, who brought you close to Chambéry. You caught another ride in two minutes from a mother, her three young children, and their grandmother.
In Chambéry, you had yet another day to kill. Unfortunately, the Powers That Be decided to open up the sky and dump its entire contents onto your tiny little tent. There you were, huddled in your little tent for 14 hours, praying you wouldn’t blow away and/or get struck by lightning.
So yeah, Ed found you pretty damp and cold on Thursday. He brought you to his dorm so you could ditch that godforsaken heavy bag, and then the two of you rejoined his father and sister for lunch, which was your second meal in a French restaurant. You did not know how many more were to come! After lunch, they led you to the parking lot where your eyes widened at the sight of their new BMW. Not bad. Not baaad… even better were the black leather seats–the first soft thing you experienced in days–and the unbelievable leg room.
They took you sight seeing. Bought you chocolate. Then dinner. That night, Ed insisted you sleep in his bed while he slept on a pad on the hard tile floor.
The following day, they took you out of town to the pre-Apls, to a place called La Tournette, which turned into the best hike of your life, complete with ridiculous inclines, climbing, and breathtaking views. That evening… oh, that evening… all Ed said was that you should get dolled up and save your appetite because you would go to a nice dinner.
Nice indeed! To a hotel called “The House of Candy,” into its highly regarded restaurant, L’Orangerie (http://www.chateaudecandie.com/FR/RESTAURANT/chef_etoile_michelin.html).
Dear god… DEAR GOD. As Jane in Ireland calls it… a GASTRONOMIC ORGASM. Each course was a new explosion of magic in your mouth. Never in your life have you tasted anything so good–let alone 8 COURSES worth of things.
Keep in mind that half the time you weren’t sure what you were eating because the dishes were so complex, but you will try to break it down and will in no way do justice to each dish’s complexity.
1) Glass of orange juice and appetizers: bites of a potato-bacon combination and a seperate fish-rice combo.
2) A square of roasted vegetables dressed with some kind of tamari sauce.
3) Kiwi, rhubard, and fois gras in a rhubarb sauce.
4) A sweet and salty combination of peaches and baked fish in peach sauce.
5) Another fish… god only knows what created the flavor.
6) Perfect tenderloin, with vegetables.
7) Pre-dessert of a meringue in a sugary-sweet, sour-lemon, ginger-spiced sauce. Out. Of. This. World.
8) Dessert of sorbet over rich chocolate cake, dressed in caramel with a gaint spike of caramel sticking out of it like horsetail, plus macaroons, Turkish delight, nougat squares, and caramel squares.
9) Esspresso (your first taste of coffee in over a month, and you pretty much came in your pants at that moment).
You were full. But the feeling of fullness could not compare to how high you were. You staggered out of the restaurant SO OVERLOADED by gastronomic input that it felt comparable to a night with Soma (you actually woke up feeling hung over the next day). What did this dinner cost? You knew it was rude, but you snuck a peak at the bill: appromimately 600 dollars for the four of you. When M. Doucet left the restaurant, all you could do was seize his hand in both of yours and say thank you so much! (Ed slept on the floor again, though you offered to switch with him. He said, no, you were his guest.)
The following day, you packed your things, got in the car, and headed to a hot tourist spot in the Alps called Chamonix, where you rode the lift high into the Alps, next to Mt. Blanc, and then had a leisure two hour hike to La Mer de la Glace, which is a giant skidmark (from a glacier) the size of a river. Way cool. Had another great lunch, another fabulous dinner, and got to sleep in a king sized hotel bed (again, Ed insisted, and slept on the teeny couch) after exploring the town a little.
Sunday, you drove back to their house outside of Paris, in a suburb called Bois de Roi. Ed took you for an hour-long bike ride through the woods, gave you a tour of the town. You guys played ping pong and watched a movie. Totally chill. (You were given the guest room, while Ed slept on the couch that night. SERIOUSLY ED!)
He took you to Paris on Monday. What can you say? It was PARIS. Fucking awesome!
Ed left today, and you are still at his house, becuase you’ve been busting hard trying to secure your next farm job, for which you are leaving tomorrow. It’s an hour from Bois de Roi, and you were fully prepared to hitchhike (the ONLY way to travel!), but Ed’s dad wants to drive you.
For the past week, after almost a month of patiently enduring the south of France, you have been given nothing but red carpet treatment. Thank you Edouard, for enabling all it it, and for being a rare breed of gentleman. You’ve had the time of your life. And thank you M. Doucet, for your generosity–for welcoming your son’s random American friend he met for a few weeks in Ireland and treating her lavishly. You had no idea things would happen the way they did; certainly, you held no expectations about their hospitality. You actually don’t know what to do or to say besides thank you, because this time you didn’t have to pick beans all day to earn a meal (let alone the unfathomable amount of money they spent on you).
You told Ed’s mother and father that you wish you could speak French better, in order to better convey your immense level of gratitude.
If Ed comes to America and you are there, you only hope you can deliver a fraction of the week he enabled for you! Thanks pal!