Friday, July 15, 2005

Fire in the Sky, Poo on the Streets

I went to the Eiffel Tower last night to watch the Bastille Day festivities. I thought it was going to be a fire works show above in the tower sky, but it was actually fireworks, lazer lights, and music all coordinated on the tower itself. You have to go to my homepage for the pics. They are amazing! I consider myself somewhat difficult to impress-- But. I. Was. Peeing! It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my entire life (see "Quatorze Juillet" at right for Photos).
Getting home, however, was an absolute pain in the ass!
All of the metros downtown were closed for security during the show and the police at each entrance were telling people they could wait for possibly an hour or more (and then chance not making it home before the system closed down for the night) or walk. I walked-- in a parade of people, for blocks until I got the first open metro station. Thankfully, I only had to change trains once (but of course that train broke down). Two hours later (normally 15-20 mins) and after being preyed upon by 3 (!) different men, I made it home exhausted. I didn't even wash my face or brush my teeth, I just fell on my bed and went to sleep.
So, yes, I am having a big problem with the men one meets on the streets and in the metro.
I was warned before I got here, that French men-- and especially men from the Meditterenean countries are very forward and flirty. But, I haven't had any problems with them. No, Serena gets picked up by-- and it's not 'picked up' as much as it is being preyed on b/c they know I am not French-- evident just on seeing me, and they are assuming I don't speak the language-- by the afrikana population (because of France had so many African colonies, they have an immense afrikana and arab immigrant population).
So, they make a point to sit down as close as possible to me on the train or at the station and begin try to get me attention. When I refuse to look at them (and it's the same fucking thing everytime), they say, "excusez-moi?" "Madame?" "Mademoiselle?"
When I continue to ignore them, they position themselves right in front of me and ask, "Do you speak English?"
Now, if I am walking on the street, I simply continue to walk away without a second glance at them (which is considered a flirtatious invitation), and sometimes to profanities being shouted behind me-- one man, after approaching me with lewd gestures about the size of my breasts, spit on me as I walked by him. But if I have no escape, I pretend not to understand them and with the most confused look I can muster and the worst possible accent. I say, "je....j'ai no comprendre passe" (I, I had not to understand). But this never works, and they always try to determine where I am from (surprisingly, I always get Spain, Russia, or Germany-- okay, Germany isn't so surprising-- but Spain!).
Finally, after repeating myself a few times, they retreat (the worst, though, was the porter at my hotel when I first got here. He gave me his phone number, grabbed me and tried to kiss me on the mouth. Thankfully, he was about 5 and half feet tall and I easily swatted him away, but really! I am disgusted that this behavior is allowed to continue!)
This happens about twice everyday.
Now, I have no problem with these men b/c they are immigrants and not white (and therefore, the underbelly of Parisian society-- France's almost institutionalized racisim is an almost impossible system to crack). These men aren't looking for anything but money and sex-- which are two things they automatically assume I have to give them b/c I am American.
And, I really dislike being picked up by men in bars and on the street in the States, I find it vulgar and don't want anything to do with it, so here, it's 10x's worse! And I am getting really tired of it. Plus, with my personality, I always end up feeling guilty afterward that I was mean or rude to someone-- even though I was forced to b/c of their treatement of me!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello ... saw your note at Suki & Sanyu's website. I'm also an ex-pat, an American male living in Adelaide, Australia. I tried to look at the photos but a password was required which rather defeats the purpose of the link. Welcome and good luck with your blogging and studies. -- Rolly

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Eric Cockhill said...

Stand strong and punch them in the face.

3:02 PM  

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