La Vie en Rose, Avec Juliette
Before touching down in Paris, I'd considered faking a British accent when introduced to the locals. After all, being a pig -- an American from the heart of Bush country -- probably wasn't going to help me win friends or influence people. Surely some snide French waiter would beat me about the face and neck with a stale baguette.
I'd already envisioned it on the plane. I'd introduce myself to a Frenchman, he'd instantly recognize my Southern drawl and, before I could get through my first name, he'd be etching "No Blood for Oil" on my shirt with a stinky Gauloise. This was going to be a disaster.
On the flip side, two of the folks I'd come to see in gay ole Paris were Texans themselves. Perhaps, together, we had nothing to fear. Much like our home country, we'd whip out our big beef-fed balls, and if Paris didn't like it, they could attach themselves to said sacks and run their tongues over our wrinkles and bumps.
We'd play this thing John Wayne-style if we had to.
Turns out we didn't. Much to our amazement, nothing seems to warm you up to the beret-wearing set than telling them you're: a) from the States; and b) from the Lone Star State, in particular.
The greeting is met with hyper hollers. "Teck-SAS!! Yeah! Cowboys! Lance Armstrong, no?"
Put simply, Texans are treated like royalty in the French capital. Velvet ropes are pulled back, drinks arrive to your table paid for, and everyone (read: EVERYONE) wants to pull you on a dance floor when "Candy Shop" billows from the bass-heavy speakers.
On the floor, even the tiniest display of rhythm will be met with applause and chants of "Go Teck-SAS! Go Teck-SAS!"
If, say, you and your Texan buddy decide to try your hand at the difficult wheelbarrow maneuver, Frenchy and his sidekicks will cheer with glee and excitement. Even when the maneuver goes horribly wrong and you both fall backward into a raised platform, knocking over a couple, you will be safe. The folks who have already come to know and love you will quickly rush to your aid and explain to the offended party that you are from Texas and mean them no harm. All will be smoothed over without so much as a glare.
Soon you'll find yourself on the streets looking for reasons to introduce yourself to the French.
They'll invite you out the next day. They really want you to try a Tex-Mex restaurant near the Sorbonne called, interestingly enough, Indiana Café.
"They have, uhhhhh, very good, uhhhhh, burritos there. Burritos? Burritos, yes. Uhhhhh, you come try and, uhhhhh, see how they compare to real thing."
They'll want to treat you to something distinctly French and unique. They'll encourage you to head with them to a fondue restaurant that serves wine in baby bottles. "Very, uhhhhh, 'ip at the moment. 'Ip? 'Ip, yes."
They'll give you insider tips on where to eat cheaply and what to avoid. They'll ask you if you've ever been to Austin, and will smile wildly when you tell them you have.
When you're sitting in a roped-off VIP section of an exclusive club near the Louvre and the owner sends over a $300 bottle of vodka on the house, you'll think you're dreaming. When tiny beakers follow filled with various juice mixers (cranberry, tomato, apple, orange), you'll wonder if you shouldn't pack up your things and move.
If at any time you should pour a good deal of the vodka into the beaker of OJ and drink it down, your new French fan club will laugh loudly, hold their guts and shout, "TECK-SASSSSSS!!!!!" at top volume. Even when your fiance tells you that such Animal House behavior is embarrassing, you'll simply point to the Frenchies patting you on the back, begging "TECK-SAS!" to join them on the dance floor to lean back with Fat Joe, as proof that you, indeed, are the motherfucking man!
When you leave the club on your first night you won't know where you are. Don't worry. One of your new French friends will flag a cab for you and tell the driver where you need to go. You will arrive safe and sound. You'll even tell the cabbie you're from Texas and he'll pull back his sleeve to reveal a yellow rubber bracelet that reads "Live Strong."
Ahh, the French. Their grace is so overwhelming, you'll begin to suspect they're mocking you.
Or perhaps you'll begin to wonder if all this enthusiasm isn't about you at all. Maybe it's because your two Texan friends are in a band that played earlier that night to a packed house. And that the band is fronted by Juliette Lewis, star of Cape Fear and Natural Born Killers. And that she's been beside you all night.
When Juliette goes on her way and no one calls your hotel room the next day to offer you baby-bottle wine or Indiana Tex-Mex, you'll begin to think about it hard.
Anyway, if you find yourself in Paris, mention you're from these parts. You'll be treated like a rock star -- that is, if you have one in tow.
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