Yesterday marks the starts of the big summer sale in Paris, EVERY store is involved, pulling out extra stock, piling stuff to the ceiling, plastering their windows with SOLDES (SALE) signs, hiring people to hand out fliers in the street, etc.
I stuck to my neighborhood, and went to Tati - Le Plus Bas Prix - the lowest price (pictured). I am not sure what it equates to in the US. There are bins of stuff outside, towels, tee-shirts, bras, espadrilles, pot holders that people pick through and try on in the street even. The store must have started small, and now it is a rabbit's den of cheap merchandise stretching two and a half blocks! Usually at my metro stop - Barbes-Rouchouchart -- there are a few people with the unmissable pink plaid Tati bags, and as of yesterday, I was one of them. I bought a converter for my electronics, and a little stick-up light for my closet. The light doesn't work, so I am sure it will be an adventure to return it.
I also worked my way into buying a cell phone, trying in French, but of course, Joel (pronounced Joe-elle) speaks better English than I speak French, and he wanted to practice his English. This happens everytime I open my mouth. He showed me which phone to buy, only 25 Euros! Another salesman wrote up a ticket -- and a took that to the counter to pay. Because I was buying a SIM card with a phone number as well, the third salesman asked for my passport. As soon as I pulled out my American passport, I think about 5 people came over to look at it. "New York?" is everyone's first question about America. "No, I am from Washington DC, but I have been there." "Oh, my cousin/uncle/niece's best friend lives in New York," is always the response. I didn't realize people would be so disappointed that I don't live in New York. I might start adding that Obama lives in DC, and see if I get a better response.
So now that I have paid for my phone, and my passport number added to the anti-terrorist database, I go back to Joel, for him to program my phone. Now comes the hard sell, "You want to go out for ice cream with me? I practice my English on you?"
What can I say to the guy who already has my number? I try my best to be nice and noncommittal, but he ups the ante, "How about drink instead? When I call you?" meaning when should he call me. Now, Joel is very nice, and works for the nicest cell phone store in my area - King of Barbes Mobile, I just don't want to go out with him. Then he tells me that he used to work at Haagen-Dazs on Les Champs-Elysees, which is a little more tempting, as I cannot find coffee flavored Haagen-Dazs in my local stores. I wriggle out of the date, and say I will come by again later.
So for all of you who think I might meet a French guy and stay here for love, let's just say, so far, there is a much better chance that I will end up in North Africa.