Crying? In public? It’s sure way to get noticed by a mime. Playing ‘Somewhere My Love’ on an accordian.
I got it together rather quickly.
I admired the Pei Pyramid. I thought it looked a little out of place but when there’s THAT much space to fill, really, it didn’t take up that much of it. It’s a big place, the Louvre courtyard. I mean, when you think of the price of real estate…the Pyramid didn’t bother me much at all. The practical side of me applauded it. The impractical side wanted to see raging mobs of rioting sans-coluttes or some French aristocrats doing something heinous.
If it were Hollywood the whole place would be FULL of people dressed up and acting as if thier life depended on it and I were Steven Speilberg. If it were Vancouver, everyone would be planning on how to fit another 40 story apartment building in. Paris? It was empty at that time of the morning and HUGE. Hugely empty. Except for the accordian playing mime.
I made a beeline for the entrance and that’s where the crowds were. Inside the pyramid. Trying to get downstairs and buy a ticket. And figure out which entrance is which. There are a bunch down there and they all go to different places. I bought a ticket from one kiosk and then tried to figure out which entrance led to the pictures. Or the Winged Victory. Or the Mona Lisa. Or even a statue. Anything. There were people in uniforms taking tickets at different places and I wasn’t sure if I could get out if I got into the wrong wing. Its a big place. And I was tired. I was kind of drunk, maybe. I think I was stressed. Okay there’s no excuse.
I lost my ticket.
I approached a ticket man and held out my empty hand. There was no ticket in it. I looked at the floor, at my hand, at my feet, at the ticket guy. I backed off and started looking around. No ticket. I looked in my pockets, maybe I put it in my pocket. No. Maybe it was in my purse…no. Maybe I dropped it. I started looking around at the floor again. I could feel a stupid smile spreading over my face. I couldn’t help it. I was going to cry/smile. It was pathetic.
A man in uniform came over and said something in French and I told him, in english, bad english, that I had lost my ticket. And two big cartoon like tears fell out of my eyes. I told him I was jet lagged and my room wasn’t ready and there was someone sleeping in my room. I took a deep breathe and tried to speak French.
‘Je’m’appelle la horreur. Ju suis desesperee. Jai perdu ma passe’ At least I think that’s how it sounded. Laura=la horreur.
I am called Horror. I am desparate. I have lost my past.’
The man swallowed really hard. I think he was trying not to laugh. He took me over to the lady behind the window who sold me the ticket and spoke French to her while I kept my eye’s really wide open so no more tears would fall out. I tried not to breathe too many white wine fumes at her.
She actually smiled at me. I think the guard told her my name was Horror and I was desperate and without a past. At that point they just wanted to get rid of me so they could guffaw in private without risking me breaking down in public. Who says the French are rude? I had only been there a few hours and I’d met the nicest people imaginable.
He took me over to a ticket taker and they shoved me down a hallway and I think I heard them laughing but I didn’t care. I was IN.
Embarrassed, but in.
I walked around in a daze. Literally. I was operating on a Branston Pickle sandwich from the wee hours in the morning, a nice, crusty roll, a tiny cup of coffee and a quart of wine. I remember standing in front of a GIGANTIC painting of a Battle from Hell. Probably Waterloo, and being fixated on a bug eyed guy who’d had his arm cut off. It was lying in front of him. OFF! It was bleeding and he was staring at it in horror, reaching for it and a horse was about to totally leap onto him from behind and crush him…it was horrible AND lifelike AND practically LIFE sized. I wanted to give him a heads up. ‘LOOK OUT! That war horse is going to land on you. Your arm is the LEAST of your problems right now!’ He was in the right front foreground. I’ll never forget it. I finally tore myself away after what felt like an hour of walking up and down in front of that painting. Jeez…too much.
I stumbled into the room with the French Crown Jewels by accident. They even had Napoleon’s Crown. Very tasteful, I have to say. Very French. How in the world they kept that collection together, I’ll never know. I guess it’s kind of hard to pawn the French Crown Jewels.
There were burn marks on the wood floors which I thought was rather slipshod housekeeping until I realized they were from the fires set by those rioting peasants during the Revolution. They cooked their meals there. Right on the floor! Of a palace. Sheesh…sort of thrilling to see though. Tacky bastards.
I went in search of the Mona Lisa and found it. Just as some yahoo snapped a photo of it and all the lights around it went out, leaving it in darkness. For a long time. Everyone drifted off and I just stood there behind a velvet rope, it seemed like forever, waiting until the lights came back on. Damned if I was going to miss seeing the Mona Lisa. Which is very small. And it looks just like all the reproductions. I don’t know why I thought it would be different. Or thrilling.
I did want to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace though. That was a must see for me. I followed the map. I found the place. No Winged Victory. I went down the stairs and looked around…the thing is big. It’s like 10 feet tall or something, right? You can’t miss it. If you’re in the room with it, you’d know. A headless statue. With wings. Maybe it was off for cleaning or something. But there wasn’t even a plinth big enough for it. I wandered around looking at other things and sort of fuming a bit. All this way and it wasn’t here. I finally got my nerve up to ask a guard.
‘Pardonee moi, mais ou est la victoire la samothrace.’ And I believe I got it right that time because he didn’t look as if he were about to burst out laughing. He just smiled and pointed over my shoulder.
And there she was.
I had walked right past her.
She was just as beautiful as I imagined. Just as powerful. Just as graceful. I’d seen a million photo’s but there was nothing like seeing the original.
Sorry Mona Lisa.
I burst out crying.