Monday, May 23, 2011

Cannes - Part The First

As I walked around the Louvre, surrounded by the world's largest (is it? Let's just assume it is) collection of fine art, the one thought that kept recurring to me was, "Hey, my penis is about the same size as all the penis' on these statues!" There's a not insignificant degree of validation that comes with discovering you're in the neighborhood of Greek gods (are they Greek? Let's assume they are) and other representations of the ideal human form. This turns out to be a hard thought to share. For instance, if your wife is in a crowd reverently staring at the Mona Lisa and you say, "Did you see the dicks on all these statues?", she probably won't share your enthusiasm. Also, if you were wondering what you could say to get a bunch of people to turn away from the Mona Lisa, try the above.

If you told me that the only thing I'd get out of a trip to Cannes was anatomical validation I'd have totally signed up. The fact that it actually ended up being near the bottom of my list of highlights means the journey honestly exceeded my wildest expectations. Let's briefly relive it together:

As I've stated countless times, I'm what they call, the parsimonious type. If I could mail myself from one place to another, I would do all my travel in cardboard boxes. But through some combination of contractual obligation and good will, Amy and I were sent to France first class. Not just first class, but like Silly Crazy Ridiculous First class. Like where someone meets you the second you step into the airport and guides you through back doors and around lines and onto the plane. Where the plane has beds and tables and duvets, as in, "sir, would you like to change into these pajamas while I get out your duvet?". There's a few ways to reveal that this is your first, and likely only, experience of this kind. One is to constantly ask if you can keep things, as in, "Can I keep these pajamas? Can I keep that duvet? Who gets this glass when I'm done with it?" Another is to constantly take pictures of yourself and your wife as all this is going on. "Honey, get over by that ottoman thing and smile."

What's really amazing is how quickly you adapt. On they way there we thought it was absurd that someone needed to meet us on the tarmac and guide us from one plane to another. We're adults for crying out loud. We know how to change planes. But on the way back they'd take us to the lounge and tell us where our gate was and we were like, "You mean we just have to WALK to the gate? By OURSELVES?!" I completely understand how people who spend their lives in this bubble quickly fall out of touch with reality. You should be required to do something to ground yourself the minute you arrive at your destination before reentering society, like chop down a tree or unclog a drain.

We went to Paris for a few days first, but I'm sure you don't want to hear about the museums and the riverboats and the churches and neighborhoods and the Eiffel Tower. You want to hear about how the French people were AWFUL to us pour Americans. But honestly, despite being as yokel and unsophisticated as anyone to ever make the trip, people were unbelievably nice to us. Nice in the way you'd be nice to a not very bright puppy that might wander into traffic if you turned your back for even a second. They were our loving, protecting, smoking guardians. Because no matter how nice the French are, they're going to smoke on you.

There were two tiny exceptions. One, after waiting in line for the Eiffel Tower for like an hour, they closed the top of it. The lady took our money, gave us tickets, and then told us it was closed. I said, I don't understand. We can't go up? Why are you giving us tickets? She said we could still go to the first level. I said, well, if we can't go to the top I'd rather not go. This was apparently like telling her that I'd like to vomit in her pants (just FYI, I worked on that one for like five minutes and that's the best I came up with. I thought, vomit in... her eyes? Her mouth? Ear? Why the head, why do I have to vomit somewhere on her head? Why do I have to vomit at all? Isn't there some other horrible and insulting thing to do? But if I scrap vomiting, where does that leave me? I'm back to the drawing board without vomiting. Let's just vomit in her pants and be done with it!). So she took back our tickets, got money out of her register, and literally THREW it us. This is the sort of grounding event that will remind you you're only royalty at the airport.

The other minor incident was heading to the train station very early one morning we got on a metro train that seemed to be conveniently waiting for us as we went down the stairs. We put down our luggage and waited patiently. Then the doors closed but the train didn't move. And then the power went out. We thought, this is... odd, but didn't particularly worry about it. And then a police officer with a police dog came walking down the stairs and noticed us on this train and RAN to the doors SHOUTING and began to try to pry them apart as if he were trying to save us from some horrible fate that our American brains could not even fathom (like, say, someone vomiting in our pants). So I got freaked out and went to the door and tried to help him pry them open, but with no power they were stuck. Then another train pulls into the station, the train we should have been waiting for all along, and apparently the train this police officer was also waiting for. So he looked at us, trapped on a subway, then looked at his train, and said, I'm so sorry, and ran across the station with his dog and jumped on the other train. As it left the station, car after car of people just stared at us, identical, 'ah, that's a real shame' expressions on all their faces.

When the other train left it got very quiet again, and so we started to yell and look for buttons and other ways to make our situation much better or much worse, when an old French man who looked like he'd been ordered out of a stereotype catalog, right down to the hunched gait, the dapper clothes, and the baguette, comes walking along side the train. I moved to the windows and walked along side him saying, "Sir, sir, can you help us? We're apparently trapped on this train bound for incineration and if you could just maybe tell someone that we're-" And then he stopped, looked up at us and very slowly just shrugged his shoulders, and carried on. When an old man shrugs at you when you're begging for help, there's really not much else you can say. And that's when the power came on, the train started to go, and after a lengthy trip through the innards of the Parisien home for out of service trains, Amy, myself, and our bags full of pilfered hotel slippers, eventually got to Cannes.


Vandra said...


Dawn Farias said...

I'm so excited for y'all! Looking forward to part 2.

yourblindspot said...

First, congratulations on what looks like a terrific film. It hasn't hit the theaters near me just yet, but I can't wait to see it for myself. And welcome to celebrity -- I saw pictures of you on the interweb, and regardless of how fish-out-of-water you may have felt, I assure you that you looked much less dazed and disheveled than international superstar Mel Gibson. (Your hip Euro sunglasses get a lot of the credit; they were very effective normal guy camouflage.)

Secondly, more congratulations on 'Awake,' the trailer for which is just fantastic and has me even more excited than next month's return of 'Breaking Bad,' which I didn't think possible. You guys have an amazing cast (the writing goes without saying), and I can't wait to kiss your ass about it some more when the great reviews (and powerhouse ratings - second time's the charm) start pouring in.

Finally, your story about the train mishap reminds me of a rather ill-fated ferry trip I took from Dover, England to Calais many years ago. Evidently the ferry serves as more of a cheap floating duty-free shop for UK locals than a legitimate mode of transportation, as our docking process failed to include the opportunity to actually debark, and my desire to visit the town of Calais on my trip to Calais, as opposed to just staring at the oily edge of the waterfront from over the railing of a boat, necessitated quite literally leaping over said railing to the dock below like a scene from a Polanski thriller. But everything turned out all right in the end, for as you mentioned, the French accept cigarettes as currency. So that duty free shopping came in kind of handy after all.

Adam said...

I've been debating unsuccessfully between three responses:

1) Fawning. Excessive, dripping vats of fawning.

2) My own version of an old man's shrug, you talented bastard.

3) Greek penis jokes.

My wife sternly advised against the last one, and I tried to work vomiting in someone's pants as a fourth option, but to no avail.

ps. Moment of sincerity: Best of luck on Awake, the trailer/pilot script knocked my socks off. Socks back on, I'm awaiting Fall.

mr. kyle said...

@blindspot and @adam, oh hell, @allfourofyou - thanks and very much appreciated.

CRANKY said...

Sweet Jesus you are talented and funny sonofabitch.

Glad to see some fresh new Letter Eleven posts. Best of luck and looking forward to a long run for "Awake".

Bob Killen said...

Congratulations on the Cannes invite and your Mark Twainian recount (you are of course more poignant and funny) of the trip brings great smiles and laughter to me and our little office as I read your blog aloud. I keep telling these folks to sign up for themselves, but you know in our office we do have some folks with reading challenges.

I am so blown away by Awake. It is beyond my expectations.


Maralyn Jabour said...

Please excuse my dullness. Funny takes five times longer for me than Fawning. I've just gotta say thanks: for your wit, intelligence, creativity, heart, and authenticity. Found my way to this blog because I am so captivated by AWAKE. Am very much looking forward to seeing/reading the rest of your work, confident that you'll do enough chopping and unclogging to keep it real.

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