I’d rather be in Paris than in Camden today, but I’d take a bigger paperback

Dear Readers,

How swell it would be to take my credit card, to book a flight to Paris and to stay for a couple of weeks…   I was feeling pretty darn happy here in Cramer Hill–retirement, plenty of food, plenty of books, my cats, my family, friends, my writing group, my new hat.  Not exactly in that order, but you know what I mean…a good life.  But, it would be better to be in a café in Paris watching the world go by and eating snails.  No, I’m kidding about the snails 

What would make me want to leave my idyllic life in Camden, New Jersey?  A book, blame a book…  Sometimes I travel through reading and I’m enjoying  We’ll Always Have Paris:  A Mother/Daughter Memoir  by Jennifer Coburn.  The mother’s tale made me remember a trip to Paris with my daughter, Kim, when she was fourteen.  I was twenty-four.  Or, was I fifty-five?  One of those ages…  Anyway, it was 1997.

To prepare ourselves for the trip, we watched the video, National Lampoon’s European Vacation.  We laughed at the goofy adventures of the Griswold family and how the dad (Chevy Chase) took a video of his wife taking a shower.  Of course, their video camera got stolen and that video made Parisian billboards.  So silly, so stupid, we thought.

Our first day in Paris, we walked nonstop.  That was fine, except that I had a terrible cold and spent a lot of time blowing my nose.  My feet blistered.  The cranky lady who sold me tissues scorned my French, but I still loved Paris. It’s beautiful.  Finally, we got back to our little hotel where there was a huge bathtub and I knew that after a long soak that I’d recover.

I ran a steaming bath of Parisian water and climbed into the big tub with my paperback.  Ahh.  My feet said merci beaucoup.  I started to breathe better.

The heavy door creaked open and I screamed, but it was only Kim, my sweet daughter.  I didn’t note that she had her point and shoot in her hand, but when I did, I used my paperback to cover myself.  “Get out of here,” I roared.

The flash went off.   “Take that roll out of that camera right now and leave me alone!” 

“Mom, I’m sorry.  I was playing around, you know, like the Chevy Chase movie.  I didn’t mean to push the button.”

“You better take that film out, cut it up and throw it out.  I mean it.”  I was mad.  Steaming like the water…

A week later back home from our lovely trip, I took the hundred (well, dozen?) rolls of film that we shot in Paris to be developed at the Ritz Camera in the Cherry Hill Mall.  I waited the hour, but there were so many rolls that I had to wait even longer.  I went outside to watch the machine behind the glass plate wall, that printer that dispensed the developed photos.  I idly watched the prints slide out–the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, Notre Dame Cathedral, bookstores and ……..

My worst nightmare. 

You guessed it.  There I sat in the Parisian water in the Parisian tub with a red nose, a shocked face and a paperback guarding my body. 

If I ever get to visit Paris again and I can talk my daughter into going with me, I’ll take a much larger paperback.


Marguerite Ferra

Writing from Camden, NJ, USA…not Paris, France….oh well….


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