Last night, Xavier invited Chris and I to his company’s extravagant soirée in Baccarat’s grand ballroom. Xavier works for Chelsea Textiles, a fabric and accessories company based in London with offices in Paris and NY. He had been planning the event for more than six months so Chris and I wanted to show our support. What we didn’t want, however, was to exhibit the sweat dripping down our brow and other parts of our body. To my dismay, I’ve come to realize perspiring in France is unavoidable.
It started with the cab ride to the affair. With the weather turning unseasonably warm and I in a suit (the first since departing Chicago one year ago), beads of sweat started to collect on my forehead. I tried to quickly diffuse the problem by asking the cab driver, in French no less, to ignite the a/c. He replied by rolling down the windows. This was unacceptable for many reasons – first and foremost being the concern I had for my hair.
I have an appointment on Wednesday to cut my coif and return it to its’ original color. But until then, any direct contact with wind only aggravates the situation – essentially turning my head into a bird’s nest. So, fortunately, the driver heard me grumble and switched on the cooling system.
For fifteen minutes, we enjoyed a relatively pleasant cab ride. Our body temperatures settled to more normal levels. That was until we arrived at our destination and entered a ballroom decorated with beautiful fabrics, illuminated by crystal chandeliers and heated to 100 degrees by the blistering sun outdoors. “Oh my god,” I said. “This can’t be.” But it was. After all Xavier’s planning to ensure problems were limited, the ballroom was an oven.
For the next hour, Chris and I found ourselves between the main event and product showcase room next door where the a/c was working properly. We would strike a conversation with the many Brits who were in attendance, or the patient French who would talk slowly enough for us to understand, then grab a little cool air refreshment. Around 9:15, as I was being lectured by one Frenchman as to how I should speak better French, not eat so early, go out more often (and generally all around how I was too American), I felt a breeze from above. The a/c was working. And, as a result, it gave me reason to smile, escape the sermon, and find Chris, Xavier and our new friend Jeff from Washington D.C. to celebrate. Though I was now happier than before, after glancing in the mirror, it was too late. My hair had fallen. My face was glossy. I was a mess.
Being that Chris had to work the next day, we departed around 9:30 from a party that was ending at 10. We thanked Xavier for inviting us. We bid adieu to Jeff and others and worked our way down the spiral staircase to the exit – SWASS (sweaty ass) and all.
As we made our way home, I thought of the week ahead. It was to be extremely hot for the next few days. But with my expected new short doo on Wednesday, I dreamt it would alleviate some of my heat pain. Then again, it’s Paris. Short hair or long, summer or winter, movie theatre or grocery store, I’d sweat. I guess I’d better stock-up on deodorant.