Or Nightmare on Elm Street..
Several years back, my husband booked a trip to Paris. What could be more romantic? We were living in London at the time. My British husband had big plans for his American wife. It was the deal of a lifetime, a weekend in Paris for £100.00 ($175.00). The price should have been a clue.
We picked up a bus in London that was to drive us south to Dover where we’d board the ferry, and cross the Channel. The bus circled southern England for hours making numerous pick-ups. We arrived in Paris the following morning, too early to check into our hotel.
I was desperate to find a bathroom to wash away the stench from a night spent on the bus. We had a busy day planned so I rallied. I was in Paris after all.
I settled for the self-cleaning portable public toilet. I dropped my coins into the slot, stepped in, washed, brushed, and reapplied my makeup. Renewed but tired I pushed open the door to exit but noticed my make-up bag sitting on sink and stepped back in with the door closing behind me. The door snapped shut and held me hostage for several minutes. How was I to know the portable toilets are self-cleaning? In seconds, water was shooting at me from all sides. I got my shower after all.
I spent the day smelling of toilet bowl cleaner, fresh and tangy. What man could resist me? Turns out it was most of the population of Paris. Even my husband struggled. There was no time to open my luggage—the driver refused to dig it out—since we had a schedule to keep. We sped around Paris stopping for pictures before getting back on the bus to resume our sight-blur-tour.
I desperately wanted to embrace the moment, overcome my lack of sleep, my tangy Paris eau de toilette, and enjoy the day despite feeling like something thing the cat upchucked on the carpet. I struggled to hold on to the passion the city evokes in any aspiring artist, but my shoes we’re squeaking from over saturation, my hair was matted and looked as if I had massaged an entire bottle of dippy-due into my locks. I was quietly miserable.
I couldn’t wait to check into our hotel, shower, and nap before the dinner cruise down the Seine. In one of the thirty stops we made, I managed to swallow glasses of wine, eat bread and cheese. Sustenance can remedy the darkest of moods. I noticed my husband stopping at every bakery and confectioner along the way, usually so.
It was finally time to make our way to the hotel. To our horror, it was seventy-miles outside of town. By the time we arrived there was no time for napping, even bathing was discouraged. We had thirty minutes to disembark, check in, and drop our bags before the bus headed back to Paris. I was as close to the edge a woman should be allowed to get before being considered dangerous, armed, and close to erupting. It was almost forty-eight hours since I had slept and my mood was blacker than tar.
My husband sensing the shift in me suggested we stay in for the night. He lobbied we should buy a couple bottles of wine, a baguette and some cheese, at the market across from the hotel. It will be romantic to dine in our room, just the two of us.. no sense in rushing to board the bus. It wasn’t perfect, but I was outside of Paris, so I rallied.
It had been raining in the country—where we were staying—so the walk to the market required we step around the puddles peppered either side of the potholed motorway. My husband keen to make it a good night sidestepped my mood as gracefully as he did the pools of rainwater. I was less mindful of the ground, lost my footing and fell into a pool of muddy water. I laid face down in a foot of muddy water unable to pick myself up because my calve-length wool coat absorbed both mud and water like a sponge. When the husband finally managed to pry me from near death by drowning, I emerged coughing up mud and speaking in tongues. Who knew I was multi-lingual? I was drenched, and possessed by exhaustion.
I walked through the store covered in mud spewing angry words in American-French, alternating between crying and laughing fits, mild hysteria. Adding to my fresh Paris eau de toilette allure was the mud dripping from my hair, face, clothes, as we walked up and down the aisles of the super market with me leaving a trail and trying to avoid eye contact with the country Parisians.
Back in the room, showered and numb from the wine, we toasted Valentine’s Day, hoping the following day would be better. It wasn’t.
We’re still married. Shocking.
Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want (romantic or not)?