I went to Paris when I was about 16 years old with a gaggle of big smartipantses from every high school in my hometown. The hard sell at the schools was that we would PRE-get college credit for going, because we would look at a LOT of art and open our fresh pink American mouths wide to experience great heaping tablespoons of culture.
Some true things about me in high school:
1) I was a GOOD kid. Except I had a foul mouth. I could, with pride, out-curse any chick in the school. In several languages. I could curse in languages I couldnâ€™t use otherwise to ask where a bathroom was or even opine that my pencil was yellow. I considered it a vital part of a complete vocabulary.
But to mis-paraphrase the immortal Adam Ant, I didnâ€™t smoke, I didnâ€™t drink, and I most certainly did not â€œwhat do you do.â€ How many shoes did I have? Two. What kind were they? Goody. I had never had an alcoholic beverage before I went to Europe, barring perhaps a sip of oversweet communion wine when I went to a friendâ€™s Episcopal service after a sleepover and maybe a parentally administered taste of champagne at New Years.
2) In my freshman year, I went from being five foot nothing with the figure of a broomstick to being 5â€™ 7â€ with a C cup front that can best be described as mighty. The Mighty Rackâ€¦and THAT perfect phrase is stolen willfully from Julie at A Little Pregnant who has one, too--- was the biggest part of me. It was absolutely my widest point. <---this will be important later.
While in Paris, one of the EDUCATIONAL SPOONS we were to open wide and swallow was a trip to The Moulin Rouge to see very culturally laden but often top-free singers and dancers and every table of four would get a bottle of REALLY FOR TRUE French Champagne so we could experience a mild French culture laden buzz. No drinking age in France, right?
My parents had discussed this with me BEFORE I went, and said part of the reason they asked me not to drink at home was that it was ILLEGAL, BUT that while in Europe they knew this Champagne thing was happening and also that a wine tasting thing would be happening in Italy, and they encouraged me to enjoy these events in Moderation while using my Good Judgment.
My good judgment told me that my friend Charlotte and I should CLEVRLY PLOT to be seated at a four top with these two girls from Catholic school who DID. NOT. DRINK. Charlotte and I downed the whole bottle between us. In the interests of culture, you understand.
Now, back at the hotel there was a beautiful lion man who ran the front desk. He was veryveryveryreallytruly French and he could not POSSIBLY have loathed us all more and he had deep limpid blue eyes and a noble nose and BLACK hair that had gone prematurely gray so it had I SWEAR TO YOU genuine silvery streaks and it was long and luxurious and thick and swept back into an ENORMOUS mane and all the girls loved to think of dumb reasons to go to the lobby to ask him things so he would sneeringly answer and make us all swoon.
When we had arrived he had stood NOBLE AND DRIPPING WITH MALE ANIMAL HOTNESS before our whole group in the lobby and said, in his elegant sexy-accent, â€œFoul teen spawns, drink not of the liquors in the mini bar, for I will look and know and tell on you, and you will be punishâ€™ed most mightily.â€ And every girl there sort of sighed and dreamed of what the punishment might be while the boys said, â€œDAMMITâ€ under their collective breath.
So anyway, after the show, we went back to the hotelâ€¦
Charlotte and I are BEYOND buzzed. Were we SO enriched by culture we couldnâ€™t walk a straight line. My ability to make good and wise decisions, never that keen to begin with, was wrapped in a cozy blanket of REALLY FOR TRUE French Champagne and it had already nodded off.
A few of the boys had this GREAT idea to TRICK the lion headed Man-beauty below.
They decided they would go from ROOM TO ROOM, to EVERY ROOM THERE WAS, and remove the caps from all the small bottles of CLEAR liquor in a delicate fashion so the little tabs did not break off and the little screw-caps could be put back exactly. Then they DRANK UP ALL THE CLEAR LIQUORS and refilled the bottles with water so they looked full and unmolested.
Oh best beloveds, my good judgment let out a lingering snore and declined to object when a boy I knew suggested it might be culturally enriching as ALL GET OUT to experienceâ€¦
He had already drunk up all the clear liquor in my room, so we went to the room of a tiny, pretty doe-eyed girl named Jodi Gup, who let us in to ravage her minibar. Okay, look, let me just say here that CHEAP LUKEWARM GIN IS VERY VERY BAD. It tastes like petrol and it burns and hurts. While I was busy choking to death, I accidentally DROPPED the little oh-so-carefully-removed cap and it went scampering off under Jodi Gupâ€™s low bed.
Now, Gorgeous Lion Man-Beauty aside, this was not a ritzy place. This was a tour for HIGH SCHOOL KIDS. The TOILETS in the hotel were FRIGHTENING FLOOR HOLE LOOKING THINGS (<---this will be important later) and the beds were these low slung metal objects that looked like what would happen if a cot and a bear trap had a baby. I got down on the floor to go after the cap, but the earth started to spin REALLY SUPER FAST so I turned onto my back. Then I pushed myself along the floor with my feet, stuffing myself under Jodiâ€™s low bed, going after the cap.
There was this sort of BAR THING under there and I managed to goozle the mighty rack UNDER the bar. My head hit the wall then, and I looked left and SAW THE CAP! I grabbed itâ€¦and couldnâ€™t get back out. I could have easily slid my belly and hips under the bar, but my head had hit the wall and I couldnâ€™t get out that way. And I couldnâ€™t get the boobs to go back. They had passed under once, but they absolutely refused to go the other way.
By then the boys had moved on to ravage the mini bar in the next room. It was just me and Jodi Gup (who was MAYBE 5 feet tall and probably couldnâ€™t bench press a puppy) and her roomie, a girl whose memory I have entirely repressed, and they could not lift the bed. It was made of IRON or LEAD or possibly BLACK HOLES, so DENSE was this cot-bear-trap of a metal bed. It would not be lifted.
So Jodi, none too sober herself after her little nips of French Culture and Vodka, went and gotâ€¦.wellâ€¦everyone. Everyone and all their friends. The ENTIRE TOUR ended up in Jodiâ€™s room alternately laughing their butts off and trying to make a getting-my-boobs-out plan that did not involve beautiful, evil lion-man knowing what we had done to the minibars and destroying us. Jodi stood at the door welcoming late comers and helpfully explained over and over what the problem was. ("Her boobs stuck under the bed, doncha know.")
Finally I think it took about 4 boys, ALL OF THEM THRASHED BEYOND IMAGINATION on clear liquor, to lift the incredibly heavy bed just a FEW INCHES so another boy could grab my ankles and pull me out, and I SHOULD have gotten college credit for the rest of that evening, because I spent it learning SO SO VERY much about what French toilets look like from REALLY REALLY close. As a bonus, I learned that cheap gin burns as much coming up as it does going down, and I made an important and mature decision I have stuck with to this DAY, which is that when I became legal, I would be a top-shelf-or-nothing girl.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I feel obligated to point out that THAT WAS JUST ONE NIGHT THOUGH! In Paris, I pretty much spent ALL the rest of my time at the Louvre and an assortment of Medieval Chapels! I didnâ€™t even get drunk ever again. Oh, except for that wine tasting. I seem to remember making out in the hotel lobby with an excrutiatingly lovely Spanish boy on Holiday with his parents and little sister. He spoke about nine words of English, all of which seemed to be about me being a most beautiful lady.
Thank you for sending me to Europe. I experienced really a lot of art and also culture and also Spanish French Kissing in Italy. It was completely great.