Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Night in the Life

Now that my time is growing short, here in France, I have become increasingly busy. For example, yesterday afternoon through evening I was amazingly active.

I left for my French class at about 4:30. Amy came along because we were returning most of the things that Ann had let us borrow for our home. We also stopped by and bought a little strawberry tart to celebrate my last class.

We didn’t leave Ann’s until about 20 minutes until 7 pm. We were supposed to meet some friends for drinks at 7, so we made our way straight to downtown instead of going home. This being France we arrived about five minutes after the hour and were the second people there. Ten minutes later Damian showed up, fifteen minutes after that somebody else dropped by and so on and so forth until about a quarter after 8 when the entire crew was there. By this time I had long nursed my Coca-Cola into oblivion and patiently waited for everyone else to finish their beverage. Considering the 2.50 Euro price for another class of soda, I set my limit to one.

The reason for the party was to say goodbye to Damian, who headed back to London today.

After everyone finished their drinks we all decided we were hungry and headed toward a restraint at the ripe hour of 9:30. Normal supper hours for the French are about 7 pm, which is about 2 hours past my American eating hour. On occasions like this when we don’t even get to the restraint until 9:30 I am ready to start eating the table cloth.

The food, when it arrived was lovely. I had some shrimp with fried zucchini, and a plate of sautéed duck with mixed vegetables. We were eating on the terrace which sits right along the street. The downtown streets are a bit odd. They are not really normal streets in which traffic flows. Many of the pathways are blocked by metal poles, keeping automobiles from passing. Certain vehicle, such as the police, taxi cabs and the local building owners have remote controls which lower the poles and allow driving passage.

Of course, pedestrians may walk up and down the streets at will. Being a relatively cool summer evening there was a good number of folks passing about us. A small group of homeless people decided the area right across the street from us was the perfect spot to sit for the evening.

For some reason many of the homeless people in France are dog owners. Actually a lot of people in France, homeless or not, are dog owners. Not that the homeless shouldn’t have a dog, it just always strikes me odd that someone so down on their luck still has the ability to take care of a dog.

Anyways, a small group of homeless folks with their bottles of wine and their dogs starts gathering around while we a re there trying to eat. They are all carrying on and getting rather rambunxious when I see one guy start kicking his dog and calling it a “pede” which is the shortened version of “pedophile” which is the French version of “faggot.” Now, I don’t know about my readers, but this was the first time I have ever eaten duck while watching a homeless man call his dog a homosexual while kicking the poor mut.

After the kicking the gay dog began fighting with another one of the homeless dogs. Then a couple of the homeless men began harassing the walker-bys for a cigarette, or some money. While they did this boombox guy stopped by.

Boombox guy is a young man we have seen before in the streets of Strasbourg. He sports a grungy set of dreads, all black clothes and a small 80’s style radio on which he continually cranks out heavy metal riffs.

The gang began to shout and dance and generally annoy until about 5 minutes before we got up to leave. We said our goodbyes and headed home at around 11 pm.

We took our second showers of the day (and we can now gage the weather on the number of showers we take in a given day – this day was mild and so we only needed two.) It was too hot to sleep so I stayed up playing on the internet until about 1:30 and then lay in bed sweating until about 3 where I finally managed some sleep.

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