Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cute French waiters, new boots and snow

Walking the streets of Dijon in the snow last weekend, despite the mushy mushroom moistness of my not-waterproof boots and sopping-wet socks, was perfect.

Just like I remember feeling on our yearly November trips to New York City as a child, Essie and Isla were humming with enthusiasm, plugged into the people, the lights and the action.

We licked practically every store window we passed. Isla stopped to lick a few without telling us and gave me a fright when I realized she was no longer with us. That one window display with the moving, breathing polar bears kept her pliant little mind very busy as she contemplated how those bears got into the store,where they pooped, and whether or not they were dangerous.

We hadn't intended to stay the night, but just to have lunch and visit the Christmas Market and maybe buy Esther a pair of new boots as an early birthday present. The market was dull by Bavarian standards, but there was vin chaud. We stuck the kids on the Santa train for two trips while we cradled hot styrofoam cups and smiled as we felt the hot wine go straight to our toes.  

Boot shopping consumed us as the snow consumed the streets. We went into a half a dozen shoe stores, filled with 3,000 variations on the same damn theme, city boots. How does anyone decide?

Esther and, then Isla, both found what they liked, in the same shop. We bought them, and they wore them out of the store, stopping on the sidewalk to spray them with waterproofer.

Funny how a new pair of shoes can change your stride, your attitude, and your entire demeanor. Another disconcerting example of how money does indeed make you, at least temporarily, profoundly happy.

We tried, really we did, to go home, until, stuck in a slow- road- to- nowhere traffic jam on the way out of town, as it snowed harder and harder,  I willed Ian to turn around and head back to the little city of light.

Once we found a hotel, and faced another restaurant meal, oh bummer, I dove through a rapidly lowering window of commercial opportunity and explained to my family that I just had to go out and buy myself some dry shoes, and socks, as well.

I raced along the slippery lit-up streets and alleys, doing flybys in a half a dozen shops and ending up in a Gap, of all places, shopping for pants I really wanted, but didn't need. 

I tried on a ridiculously tight, yet vaguely- flattering, pair of stretch jeans and wondered, in that tiny dressing room, with my soaking -wet socks leaving a puddle on the floor, if I could really get away with them. It's times like these when I could use a girlfriend. Esther had wanted to come with me, but I knew I needed to hurry so I turned her down.

When I tried to find a larger size, the saleswoman said, "But if you get a bigger size, they will be....bigger."

"Exactly," I said.

"But, those you are wearing are perfect."

"They're not perfect," I said, "They're too tight."  Then I thought, "And I'm not a teenager, or French."

But she was right. The next size up was too big. In a bold, rebellious move of optimism, I bought the tight ones.

Dizzied by the choices of fashion boots, and feeling as if combining tight jeans and fashionable boots on the very same day was just too cliché, I found a pair of practical, waterproof, high-end shit kickers, and sprinted back to the hotel to show off my booty.

Everyone, even Ian, approved.

Three girls and three new pairs of boots, one pair of tight-stretch jeans and one man who will never understand us, poured smugly out into the magically- glowing streets in search of a restaurant for dinner.

We wandered, hand- in -hand through the labrynth of cobblestone, with me stopping to occasionally pull my shirt down, because I could feel the air blowing through the gap between it and the low-rise waistband, why do I do this to myself?, until we finally stepped into a warm, casual gallete/crepe restaurant. Once inside,  Isla and I became instantly smitten with the young waiter.

I was stealth, but Isla was shameless.

She did everything she could, short of punching him, to get him to look at her. I can't blame her, really. He was adorable, very sweet and boyish, very French. Am I setting my girls up for eternal discontent? Will they forever be searching for a boy who speaks French and knows how to wear a scarf when they get back to America?

We had a delicious, warming, cheap meal in the glow of red- beaded lamplight, then headed back out into the night.

















14 comments:

Emma said...

What a magical way to spend a night! Sounds absolutely fantastic- but, Betsy, where is the photo of these fabulous new jeans?

Betsy said...

I was afraid someone might ask that. Not sure if I'm ready to go there, but... we'll see.

C. said...

Fabulous France; there is nothing like it in the snow with the lights and decorations, winding streets, vin chaud and hot chestnuts. Never mind, setting your girls up for future disappointment, how will I ever settle for anything less? Gorgeous pics Betsy!

C. said...

Oh and as a tiny aside, my profile pic was in a cafe in Beaune, also in Burgundy, if you haven't yet been, you must!

Betsy said...

C: I was "ruined" by Europe at a young age, ever since my first trip to Germany at age 16.

cecile said...

Oh thank you foir those photos, I miss France most now, in December. I'm from Lyon... you should try it next time, a walk through Rue de la Republique, with hot chestnuts and vin chaud...

Kate said...

In Vermont this morning we have two inches of fresh, but it's not quite like France. No photos of the new boots or the cute waiter?

Betsy said...

Kate: Good news. Vermont in December without snow is a sad place indeed.
Still working on those photos. Will stage fashion shoot ASAP. :)

Betsy said...

Cecile: We were in Lyon in Sept. It's lovely and I hope to go back.

Seamingly Sarah said...

I too was expecting a photo of the new jeans and boots! You've inspired me, but I still feel stuck in old clothes with my 6 month pregnant belly. I can't bring myself to buy anything for myself when I know this width is going to keep expanding. And even afterwards I can't buy anything until I know it's done shrinking. But I am so craving skinny jeans (or even leggings) and beautifully fancy tall boots. Then I can really stick out in rural upstate new york!

Megan said...

Fun adventure!

"I dove through a rapidly lowering window of commercial opportunity..."
Good description there.

Funny, my mother-in-law randomly gave me a pair of those Gap stretch jeans. I didn't even know they existed, but now I'm in love. They might be the most comfortable pair of jeans I've ever owned. I've been wearing them with my Tom wrap boots/aka Luke Skywalker boots because for some ridiculous reason I feel less exposed with the tall boot. But I'm thinking I've got to embrace this rain and snow lifestyle and get me some good shit kickers!

And speaking of girlfriend advice on girlie things-
Girlfriend, your haircut is fab!

Betsy said...

Megan:They are great jeans, but I'm feeling dumb about paying twice the price for them, rather than waiting till I go back to the U.S.
Not so smart, but oh so necessary somehow.
Thanks for the vote of approval on the haircut. I've been waiting for someone to notice. Thought I would do an official haircut blog, I have been having some some regret, but haven't gotten around to it.

mooserbeans said...

What a wonderful day. I hope the rest of your holiday season is just a lovely. I love the line about you and the girls going out with "a man who will never understand us." I do feel like that is true for our female heavy family as well:)

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