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Ah, the friendly French.

Pilots are notorious for being cheap. The old joke - How do you get copper wire? Answer: Two captains fighting over a penny. It holds some truth. However, in my case I like to think that I am merely frugal. Frugal out of necessity. Four kids can be hard on the wallet.

Heading out to a Paris restaurant, even an inexpensive one, can cost you 20 to 30 Euro. If you eat that way twice a day on a 6 day trip you have spent almost $600. At any rate the captain and I decided, in the interest of time and money, to purchase our dinner at the grocery store.

I picked up some chicken curry (turned out pretty bland), a baget, and an inexpensive Bordeaux. The store was packed with people and I waited patiently in line to check out. The woman in front of me was having some sort of issue. Not speaking the language I couldn't quite make out what it was, but she could not have taken longer if she decided to write a check and then forgot how to spell her name.

The man behind me became frustrated with the delay and, leaving his things on the belt, stomped toward the exit. In a scolding tone the cashier said something to him in French. The man spoke back to her, rather sharply I thought, and pushed in between the slow lady and myself. He set his brief case next to the register, unzipped it and indicated that he wanted the cashier to search it, a profession of innocence. The cashier waved him off and he stalked toward the exit. He then paced up and down in front of the registers for several minutes (the slow lady was still trying to figure out how to pay) and then he got back in line behind me. The cashier looked at me, rolled her eyes and smirked. I couldn't help but laugh.

"Bonsoir" I said to the cashier.
"Bonsoir - gibbity gibity giberish *unintelligible* sjeezkabom." is what I heard in reply.
"Je ne parle pas Francais." I said with a smile.
"You speak English?" the impatient man piped up. He was a black man. A little older than me, about 5 foot 7, with short hair, a broad face, flat nose, wide set eyes, and very dark skin. He was dressed in all grey and black wearing short black overcoat with a turned up collar. He had a white scarf wrapped around his neck and he carried himself with an air of pompous confidence.
"Yes. I speak English" I replied.
"She asked if you need a bag." He told me.
"Oh..Um, yes please." I said. "Merci." I said to him with what I am sure was a perfect French accent.
"You're welcome." He said with a smile. He had a large gap in between his front teeth. It occurred to me that he could probably spit really far with that big ol gap in his teeth. I never could spit through my teeth...

I stepped out away from the registers and waited for my captain, who was several people back in line. I paced back and forth a bit, eyed the scruffy homeless looking guy standing by the grocery carts for a moment and wondered how long it would be before he hit me up for change (the homeless tactics are pretty much the same the world over and I obviously look either gullible or generous and they thus pay me much attention). I had just decided that I would give him my last 2.40 Euro if he asked when I turned and saw that "impatient black French guy" was standing uncomfortably close to me with a big smile on his mug. I may have jumped a little.

He was standing much closer that most American will stand to you. The French are not as particular about personal hygiene and I don't like to stand that close. But, being charitable a cautious, I just raised my eyebrows a bit and waited to see what he wanted.
"Where are you from?" He asked.
"Um, Florida." I said. He looked confused. "The U.S." I elaborated.
"Ah! America." He said with delight.
"Yes, America. Florida."
"Yes,um, Sarasota." I said. He looked confused again. "Tampa? You know Miami?" I continued.
"Miami!" he said, delighted again.
"Yes, near Miami." I said, wondering where this was going.
"Why are you in Paris?"
"Work." I said.
"Where do you work?"
"I work for an airline." I said. His smile seemed to get much larger.
"Can I be your friend?" He asked with his big, effeminate, gap toothed smile.
" I'm married." I blurted with the utmost charm and grace.
"No, no, just friend." he said with sort of a bemused and bashful look. He kept smiling at me and pursed his lips. "Are you waiting for someone?" he asked.
"Ummm, yes. I am."
"I'm waiting for someone too." He tells me. I just stuck my bottom lip out slightly and nodded. (Jutting out the lower jaw and nodding thoughtfully is my go to expression when out of my comfort zone.)"I have fresh fish in here so I should go to put it away." He says.
"Okay." I reply.
"Can I give you my number?" He asks
"My phone doesn't work over here." I told him.
"My cell phone?" he continued.
"I am leaving tomorrow." I said. I think he finally got the hint.
"Okay, I must go. See You!" he chirped. And he swooshed off, in that way that the terribly effeminate have of swishing.

The captain walks up. Stops a few feet away, cocks his head to the side a bit, furrows his brow and says "What are doing?" with that tone of voice that says I know what was going on and I am now going to tease you about it. "Who was that?" he asked with a smirk.

"I just got hit on by an effeminate black Frenchman." I sighed. The captain was quite amused.


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