My colleague Shirley Chan is enjoying a vacation in France, lucky girl. I’ve been drooling over her pictures of Paris. It is, perhaps, my favorite city, and the scene of an unforgettable night.
So pull up a chair, kids, and let me tell you a story.
One lovely night in Paris (I think it was in the late 80s or early 90s), my wife turned in after a long day of touring, shopping and, of course, eating and drinking. I was not ready to say, “Bon nuit.”
I had seen a number of well-dressed people going into a club down the street from our hotel. The club was called “Il Curieux.” I was. So I went.
It turned out it was a sex club. Not a strip joint, but a sex club. There was an elaborately staged sex show with costumed “performers,” and a room full of appreciative patrons.
I ordered une bière, and had had no more than a sip or two when the maitre d’ suddenly introduced me to “Sara,” and ushered us to a well-upholstered horseshoe booth to enjoy the show. Sara snuggled to my right, laying her head on my shoulder. My French is limited, and Sara’s English was non-existent, so it was difficult trying to explain to her that I wasn’t in the market for extra-curricular activity.
“Ma femme est dans le hotel down the street. I must retournez to ma femme.”
Sara (who was an incredibly attractive though heavily-perfumed young lady) seemed to understand what I was saying. After 10 minutes of watching a sex show with a complete stranger, we left the booth.
The maitre d’ came up to me, looked me in the eye, and asked, with the most serious of expressions, a question I will never forget.
“Monsieur, do you understand you can leave with the ladies?”
I wanted to laugh out loud, but I didn’t want to offend. I assured him I understood, and I assured him that I had assured my wife that I was just going out for a drink, and would return to our room fairly quickly. Turning up the next morning would not be, to use the French word, acceptable.
I walked back to the hotel. Standing outside, having a cigarette, I fingered the matchbook from the club. A cabdriver sitting in his car saw it, and asked, “Did you go there?” “Oui.” “Next time, go to Le Piano Bar. The girls and the drinks are much cheaper.” I smiled. “Good to know. Merci.”
In the morning, my wife asked where I went.
“Smell the right shoulder of my blue blazer, then I’ll tell you a story.”
I hope Shirley comes back with some good stories of her own.
After all, it’s springtime in Paris.