Gay Paris is right. Let me save you some time folks. The Eiffel Tower is a tower. Nothing more. A tower best viewed via the Internet from the comfort of your home. Notre Dame is a big-ass church, and not even the biggest one. And the Louvre is Europe's version of the Mall of America: vastly overcrowded and vastly overrated.
Now I have saved you a trip to what is basically just another huge city with an attitude. Take it from me, Paris sucks. I had that figured out my first day. I did not discover the true suckiness however, until day 2: the day I was alone, unable to speak more than 9 words of French (those very badly) and desperately had to pee.
It happened near the Hotel de Ville. I was walking along minding my own, when suddenly I realized that I needed to potty. "Well, why didn't you just go?" you say, sitting there in your plush American city with enough bathrooms for everyone to go at once. How dare you insult my intelligence? You see, most of the toilets cost money here. Still shouldn't be a problem I figure. I head over to my local Internet cafe and dig two 10 Euro coins out of my pocket to pay the fee. But alas, after I slide them in I notice that the sign on the door says it will only take a 20 Euro coin. A coin which I don't have.
No worries. A crèpe sounds pretty good right now anyway. I'll just grab one and get some change. I walk to the counter and repeat the phrase I had heard my French-speaking friend use the day before, "Un crap burrrggghhhk surrkkgh see-boo-play."
The guy working there is clearly not a fan of my pronunciation and he rolls his eyes openly at me before correcting it. 'You know what buddy, I didn't want your dirty crap anyway, I just have to piss,' I think to myself as he makes it. He finishes, and hands it to me. 1,90. Well that doesn't really help now does it? I hand him 3 Euro, and ask for change. He shrugs and shows me his cash drawer, which is admittedly low on change, and tells me he can't comply. Swell.
I spend the next little while wandering around the area of St. Michel (for the record they pronounce this 'San Michelle,' so for you Mikes out there, best of luck in Paris, sissy) examining menus in search of something that has a price which requires a 20 piece as change. I finally find a Coca-Cola for the magical price of 1,80. I pay the man, get my wonderful change, throw the Coke at a passing child's head, and hustle back to the bathroom.
Finally, I'm saved. And just in time too, it was beginning to hurt. Nope. The thing is broken. Did I mention I HATE Paris?
Don't panic. OK, I won't. There has to be a toilet somewhere. I walk around for 30 minutes looking for one, before spotting a sign near Notre Dame. I head down the stairs and approach the attendant.
"Neshwanlabammmmerrrghkotpuczdnmdñgjg jgksdkrre jerknggnacb," she says to me quickly.
"Voutesdfg ee leraedirn sumabadfd en jay arghhkenodfgjkcxhne."
I know I'm right. SHE should know MY language. These people listen to MY music, watch MY movies. Still, Parisians have an evil way of making you feel like you are the stupid one. I turn and walk away in disgrace.
I know I'm being an ugly American. But I'd help these clowns if they came to my country confused. Their silly talk would even help them get chicks where I'm from. I see a kid wearing a red bandana with a blue hat. He notices me staring, and gives me a dirty look. All I can think about is how much I want to airlift all these pompous Parisians into the middle of the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. I could get this kid shot in about 2 seconds.
Yep. I'm losing it. I start thinking about going local, and just taking a leak on the sidewalk as I had seen plenty of people of both sexes doing (gee wonder where they get that rap as being a dirty place) when I notice the sign that had saved me before in Edinburgh. McDonalds. Hoping for a repeat performance from a true friend, I hustle in.
Leave it to France to take a perfectly good concept like Mickey D's, and make it into something just weird. There were couches and pictures. It was like a nice restaurant. Our starvation rations = their gourmet meal. I looked around for a toilet, but alas it was too late. I had completely broken my thin tie to sanity.
It wasn't pretty my friends. I ran through the streets maniacally shouting the 9 French words I knew at random intervals. "Croissant! French-fries! French dip! VIVA LA RESISTANCE!"
A woman sensing my distress (AKA American-ness) approached me and said, "Do you speak English?"
"Yes. Yes I do. I do speak English. That is what I speak. I see that you are a speaker of English too. I love you and will name my first born after you."
She then hands me a 3x5 notecard, with a handwritten saga proclaiming the tragedy that her life had become and asking if I could please help her...oh, and God bless.
I then ripped her head cleanly from her body, and threw it still grinning into the Seine.
Deciding a song was in order, and unable to think of one appropriate to the occasion, I composed my own. It was set to the tune of 'The Star Spangled Banner' and went as follows:
Oh say can you see
Ho-ow much Paris sucks
It sucks so damn much
That it sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks...
At this point the song broke into screaming profanity and spitting, still set to the music.
I sang my song quite loudly for some time, and savored all of the dirty looks. They say that love is the universal language. They lie. Profanity- that is the universal language. My swearing was understood and appreciated by all.
There was clearly only one solution: suicide. Being an American citizen, my life was clearly worth 10 times more than the lives of all the French in the world. Therefore it followed that if I were to die on French soil, it would start World War III and bring to Paris the vengeance it so richly deserved.
I stepped into traffic and awaited the apocalypse.
"Honk." The car that was speeding toward me slammed on its breaks and stopped.
"In Chicago, I'd be dead right now you pansy. That's exactly why your stupid country isn't a world power anymore, and the only place they speak your language is Quebec!"
"Hey, je nais comprend this, Napoleon didn't have a complex because he was short, it was because he was FRENCH!"
I could see that my goading would not work on these cowards. I crawled back to the sidewalk.
At this point, I had done the pee pee dance through most of Paris, and was running out of ideas. I decided to turn to the one thing that solves all problems that I cannot: alcohol.
I saw a wine store and headed in. I chose a bottle and handed it to the purveyor. He began wrapping it for me and said, "Parlez vous Francais?"
I wanted to hit him, but insanity is very tiring, so I simply shook my head.
"Do you speak English?"
"I really don't think you should be trying to pan-handle while you're at work buddy."
He looked confused, but simply ignored the comment. "If you drink all of this from the bottle you speak perfect French. I drink lots of...uh...Budweiser, now I am fluent in English."
It took me a minute, but I laughed at this before thanking him profusely for the wine, and for talking to me in my native tongue. As I was leaving he continued, "This is also a restaurant. Come in sometime and you can try other wines."
This sounded like a fine plan. "Is now okay?"
"Do you have a toilet?"
"Back there on the left."
I was saved. But I was lucky. If I hadn't stumbled on Dominique and his immaculate restaurant with a bathroom, I might have died. Or worse yet, wet myself. Learn from my mistake. Do not come here. Gary, Indiana, the armpit of the U.S., is twice the city Paris is. If you want to come here in spite of my warnings, learn the disgusting tongue that is French first, so that you can communicate with these Neanderthals. If you won't do this either, immediately upon arrival here, come and see Dominique, and tell him Josh sent you. And remember, whenever you have a problem that you can't solve, put your faith in booze.