Two weeks later, my wife is sitting in a bathtub drinking Veuve Clicquot. She is in total heaven. She loves the antique stores around Carré Rive Gauche, the wild strawberry sorbet at Berthillon, and the silk underwear at Sabbia Rosa, but mostly she loves lounging in the oversize tub in our hotel room sipping champagne and admiring the Eiffel Tower, which juts up into the cloudy sky just blocks away.
I am sitting shirtless and shoeless on a green couch in the Hôtel Lutétia’s Opera Suite, eating a nougat bar, wedge by wedge, speaking on the phone with Diane Mincel, an extraordinarily beautiful and charming (aren’t all French women?) jeune femme from the hotel’s marketing department who, during our three-day stay, has done everything but walk our dog—and I’m sure she would have done that if we’d had one. I have waited until the last minute to secure Elaine’s cheese, but we are leaving tomorrow, early, so I have asked Diane where, s’il vous plaît, I might find a little “Ay-pwoss.”
Diane makes that peculiarly French blowing noise, like giving the raspberry without sticking your tongue out, which, loosely translated, means either “Your guess is as good as mine” or “What a silly question.”
“Perhaps I can find out for you,” she says. The French always qualify everything by saying “perhaps.” This way they always look like heroes when they actually do something. “I will call you back immediately.”
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