Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting gyped comes in threes

The fucking French. Pardon my French, but really.

Thursday night, it was the taxi driver. I don’t often take cabs here but I would say at least 20% of time when I do, they try to take me for a ride. On Thursday, my driver turned right off rue Saint-Honoré, towards the Louvre in order to bring me to Boulevard Sebastopol. I asked him why we were going towards the Left Bank instead of continuing on, straight, and he started freaking out, they way defensive taxi drivers do, so I started freaking out back at him. But, at the end of the day, I’m the jerk who doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know the street names. It’s hard to win an argument when the other person can't understand you.

Then last night, I had an appointment at a new hair salon. Don’t ask me why I didn’t go back to the place, Coiffure & Nature, where I’ve been twice and had good cuts. For some reason, I’m never satisfied. I always think there’s something better, so I decided to try Jean Louis Déforges, which I had walked by a few times.

I came prepared for my 6 o’clock appointment with my notes: “une coupe e’entretien avec des dégradées.” It worked at the other salon—they understood that I wanted a trim with layers. But this hair stylist told me, “non.” He jabbed his hand at my shoulder, indicating where he wanted to cut my hair. We all know how long it takes to grow hair. I wasn’t interested in cutting it that short. I wanted to keep my length. I tried explaining this to him and kept pointing to my notes and repeating out loud: “une coupe e’entretien avec des dégradées.” We were glaring at each other in the mirror.

Then the artistic director came over, who luckily spoke English pretty well. He had a really nice disposition and calmly pointed out that my hair was thin and therefore straggly in the back. It could use a little less length. He’d recommend doing more than a trim. When I told him I wanted to keep the length, he asked why I was there, then. What was I doing getting my hair cut? I couldn’t believe these two hairdressers were basically refusing me the cut that I wanted. It was so outrageous. And I was like a (furious) deer in headlights. I had already waited too long to make the appointment (I put off every little action here in Paris—everything is too difficult and requires to much effort. Although, I am finally going for my follow-up doctor appointment this week and really, really hope to replace those glasses that I lost in June by the end of the year because it’s really hard to see sometimes. But I digress.), and knew this week was going to be hell and I wouldn’t have a chance to make another hair appointment. I convinced myself that, hey, you’re in France. They’re style gods. Let this man do what he thinks is right. He was quite convincing and was telling me he'd cut my hair and he wouldn’t take too much off. I finally succumbed.

Silly girl.

One of the assistants washed my hair (which, as always, was heaven. Ah, I love a scalp massage) and brought me back to the chair. Where I sat, waiting, with a wet head, for nearly 45 minutes. I was irate. And to make matters worse, I had a date at 7:30 to meet the woman who’s potentially minding Milo and the treehouse when I’m in New York. It was nearly 7 o’clock, I was on the other side of town, and I was freaking out.

Finally, the artistic director came over and started trimming my hair. And then the layers came. He cut the shit out of my hair. At 7:20—with me, red-faced, but just wanting to get the hell out of there—he asked one of the assistants to dry my hair with the diffuser. I told him I was late and had to go and he said, “Just a leetle, just a leetle.” So the girl blew out my hair, upside down, with a diffuser (Are you asking yourself what the hell is wrong with me?? Why was I still there? Because I was asking myself that the whole time, muttering like a crazy old lady). I sprang up and, voila! An afro! Thank you, Jean Louis Déforges, thank you so much!

I gritted my teeth, paid my 60 euros and bolted from the salon. I really wanted to cry, but I didn’t have time—I had to find a taxi to usher me to my date in the Marais, for which I was now late. But of course there were no taxis. It was one of those hours when they’re all unavailable. So I ran. I ran past l’eglise Saint-Germain, I ran to the Seine, and I ran across the bridge (pretty views, at least). I ran to the Louvre-Rivoli Metro stop, took one train, transferred in the hell that is Chatelet, took another train, and then ran from Arts et Metiers to rue Bretagne. I had a frizzy afro, sweaty face and no breath when I finally busted through the door of Café Charlot.

Luckily, the woman whom I was meeting, Nicole, was great. Hopefully things will work out with the apartment, so after a couple glasses of wine, we decided to go to Hotel Costes. Pourquoi pas? I mean, I looked and felt so chic, why not take that haircut out for a walk? (Kidding, of course. By now, my hair was back in what I was hoping looked like a French updo.)

Hotel Costes on a Saturday night was like being at Hotel Gansevoort on a Saturday night. That is, cool if you like fake tans, muscle-y men and total posturing. But no matter—Nicole and I had a great time. I ordered a sidecar for 19 euros, Nicole got a 19-euros glass of champagne, and we plunked ourselves down at the small bar. The drinks went down quickly and easily and the atmosphere was lively and we had no other agenda. We ordered another round, with me switching to champagne. Sometime later, I turned and the bartender—who was channeling Tom Cruise in Cocktail all night—was refilling our glasses. Zut—my fifth drink of the night, without any supper in my belly. Not good. But hey, who am I to refuse a free glass of champagne?

Except that it wasn’t free. Even though we didn’t ask for that last round, he still charged us, making my grand total for the three drinks nearly 60 euros—the same price of my fabulous haircut.

The f'ing French.


  1. You know what you have to do? F 'em back! ;-)

  2. Yes, Anon, this is what I really want to do! The problem is, I don't quite know how!

  3. You will figure it out!

    It's official: I want to switch lives with you. ;-)

  4. very amusing read. I am both french and american and am new to your blog. I have lived in several different countries with new languages to learn and know very well your frustrations. My advice, master the language so well that you can f'em back with their own words and their own methods! it will be one of your greatest thrills! Good Luck!

  5. Why are your worst days exponentially cooler than my best ones? You ooze awesomeness; I love you and hate you.
    -Lana [Dana's sister]

  6. Lol - you guys are the best! Especially you, Lana!

    Thanks for your support and for inspiring me to find some French fighting gloves!