A vivid dream.
“Would you rather be here or back home waiting in a mile long line for Trader Joe’s canned beans and…banana chips?” I ask my young daughter as we drop luggage off in our Opera-inspired, Jacques Garcia designed Paris hotel room.
“Ummmm. What’s Trader Joe’s?” She responds while washing her hands with the supplied Hermès soap in the bathroom.
“Exactly.” I say and it’s the right answer though we are now, officially, Coronavirus refugees. Instead of being allowed on to our scheduled Air Tahiti Nui flight tomorrow we are forced to cool heels in Paris for extra days, near the Palais Garnier, a stone’s throw from le Chapelle Expiatoire.
Brutal but like our brothers and sisters fleeing war torn Syria, war torn Afghanistan, conflict ravaged west Africa we will survive.
The Coronavirus Zombie Apocalypse has reached full tilt, or a much fuller tilt than any sane person could have ever imagined. I thought the flu-esque paranoia would grip Europe and we’d shred empty palaces, empty restaurants, empty plazas, parks, zoos and museums and that has been true, all of that and more, but Europeans, or at least the French and Germans, seemed generally lassiez-faire/lass los about the whole business. Nobody panicking. Nobody over-purchasing. Life as normal but… decidedly, gloriously less crowded, or at least until midnight tonight when all restaurants shutter and theaters screening The Best of Brigette Bardot turn black.
Aside from the elderly, who pull away in horror from my own personal walking immune system booster, we have lived a vivid dream but then, overnight, flight delayed. Postponed until the next day and who knows what then? Into an America hoarding nightmare? Otherwise healthy people crushed to death by cans upon cans of Trader Joe’s beans?
Honestly, what is going to happen to all the hoarded foodstuffs, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks? Has stockpiling suddenly mainstreamed and will awakened Americans begin digging bunkers as soon as this virus passes or will it all end up in landfills, hastening the Global Warming Zombie Apocalypse?
Well, we may as well learn French in the meantime.
“Oh can we please learn to speak French… ples vous? That’s how they say please. I’m serious.” My young daughter says while pulling me out the door for a steak frites.
“Oui Vuitton je ne sais quoi.” I respond. “That means yes.”
My phone rings at that very moment and it is my wife, back in California.
“When are you guys coming home?”
“I don’t really know. The French are sending us to the Caribbean, theoretically, tomorrow.”
“What?” She does not sound happy. “You are NOT getting sent to some crazy quarantine island in the Caribbean with OUR daughter!”
Minutes later she’s busted us free and has us direct without even paying a gouged fare.
Charles de Gaulle to Los Angeles International.
“Your mama is better than Papillon.” I tell my young daughter as we push out into the almost warm night, the City of Lights glowing in puddles as the French, seeming to ignore social distancing norms, continuing to see life in pink.
“It took that bro a decade, or something, to escape from his crazy quarantine Caribbean island. Your mama is, historically, legendary.”
“What did Papillon do to go to the crazy whatever island?” She asks.
“Not cry when his mother died…” I respond. “Or wait. That’s my other favorite Frenchman. But your mama, classically legendary.”