Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'd not flown overseas since before 9/11/01, so I really wasn't sure as to what to expect. Security wasn't that bad at all, though I guess it helped to keep a sense of humor about things like having to take off one's shoes to go through the checkpoint, etc.

Summertime for me usually means going around barefoot, so I don't have the prettiest of feet. I apologized to the guard who took my shoes, stating that if I'd have known what was going to happen, I'd have gotten a pedicure for his benefit. Don't know how many times he'd heard that one, but he gave a big smile anyway (it helps to be blonde and cute) and let me pass through just fine.

The rather sullen-looking Frenchman ahead of me in line didn't fare so well: he had a couple confiscatable items in his bag, so was detained for a bit. I was kind of thankful for that, as I didn't much like the way he stared at my toes or me, and kind of wanted to lose him.

We actually boarded the plane on time, though had to rest on the tarmac for a bit for a failed attempt at repairing the air-conditioning. Happily, no one near me wanted to chat, though the sullen Frenchman was placed in front of me. As he decided to push his seat all the way back, I made darn sure to knee his headrest as many times as possible during the flight.

De Gaulle was as it ever has been: big, concrete-y, a bit confusing. I don't think I'll ever get over the sight of the soldiers - young ones - boys actually - patrolling the airport, mitrailleuses in hand. I don't think that anyone would actually use the weapons in a crowded airport, at least I hope not, anyway.

I'd forgotten about the tendency towards crowding, rather than lining up, and since I was too busy paying attention to the boys with big guns, I found myself almost crushed between a family of Chinese and my sullen Frenchman. I could ignore the Chinese, but the Frenchie decided that he really wanted to talk about Boston with me: property values, infrastructure, etc. Asked me if I'd ever been to France before (oui), and how much time I'd spent in Paris (aussi peu du temps que possible). Recommended a couple exhibits to me, but that's all I really remember, as I was overwhelmed by crowds, lack of sleep, the heat, the air quality, getting through the douane and finding My Frenchman.

How happy it was to see that familiar face again once I got past the sliding glass doors that separated no-man's-land from the rest of the airport. A cart was found for my giant aubergine (My suitcase is pretty unmistakable, as it's purple with a bright green truffle on it. Told all the folks around me at baggage claim to keep an eye out for it. They did gladly, and a couple people laughed aloud when they saw the violent color combination.) and I got the hug I was hoping for before being whisked off to Suburbia in what seemed to be the very lap of luxury (wow: legroom and air-conditioning) after the cramped, overheated flight over.

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