This is the seventh of my “Advent Calendar” Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I’m challenging myself to complete it, see here. Note: it’s entirely possible some of these memories are inexact, but I’m sticking with them anyway.
We selected a small bottle of Bordeaux with a screw cap, because we didn’t have a corkscrew in our backpacks. I knew that we probably weren’t supposed to drink wine in the park, despite the fact that we were in Paris, and we were planning lunch in a Parisian park. As far as I was concerned, wine seemed compulsory for the occasion. Europeans drink wine like water, right? France practically invented the stuff! They give it to their kids! Besides, we could claim ignorance of the rules if anyone declared our bottle was interdit.
It was a perfect day. Not too hot, and just cloudy enough that we could look up at the Eiffel tower rising into the sky beside us without blinking at the sun’s glare. I pulled the baguette from its crinkly paper wrapper and tore pieces off for us while Dave opened the package of Brie with his utility knife. With the beautiful Bordeaux poured into paper cups, we started our lunch. It was the best Brie of all time.
A moment later, Dave poked me and motioned for me to look up. When I did, I saw a very large man in a military uniform walking purposefully towards us. He made no effort whatsoever to hide the M-16 rifle hanging at his side. Oh boy, I thought. Here comes the interdit. The man stopped a meter away from our picnic and looked at Dave.
“As-tu du feu?”
Dave, somewhat unnerved by the giant armed man asking questions in a foreign language, looked to me for help.
I smiled at him and shrugged my shoulders. “Desolee, Monsieur, je ne fume pas. Lui non plus.”
The giant man nodded. “Ah. D’accord. Merci.” He turned and walked towards a small group sitting a few meters away.
“What was that about?” Dave asked.
“The guy wanted a light. I told him we don’t smoke.”
“I am very glad you speak French.”

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