Sunday, June 17, 2007

"If you look like your passport picture, you aren't well enough to travel."

If I had a scanner handy, and were the sort of person who uploads pictures of myself to my blog(and I'm not) I'd upload the pictures that were taken of me today. You would just love them, in a sort of schadenfreude way. They are TERRIBLE.

They're so terrible that I'll be amazed if I'm not quarantined upon my re-entry into the United States. I wouldn't need to worry about stalkers, because not only are they uniquely hideous, they're also unrecognizable. At least I like to think so.

And just think. I'm stuck with these hideous pictures for another decade. Unless my passport gets stolen again.

* * * * *

So, my passport picture will act as an immediate emetic on any and all boarder guards who have to look at it. That's the bad news. The good news is that by letting mes droigts do the marchant dans les pages jaunes, I found a photographer who could take pictures for an American passport. And this photographer was open for business on Sunday.

This might not sound like such a big deal, from where you're sitting, but trust me. If the English are a nation of shopkeepers, the French are more like a nation of clockwatchers.

Sunday in Paris is a bad day to find anything open. It's a day when every other Parisian is out strolling the boulevards, eating a leisurely dejeuner, drinking vin rouge, and playing boules. Actually, I have no idea what they're all doing, but I do know that while New York is the city that never sleeps, and Chicago is the city that works, Paris is the city that doesn't work. Yes, it's lovely and historic and the food is great, and the shopping would be great if I had, you know, a wallet and some credit cards to shop with, but the go-getting entrepreneurial spirit we enjoy in the United States is completely lacking.

In fact, the biggest go-getter I've encountered on this trip is the shithead who stole my purse.

* * * * *
See, this is how travel broadens and educates a person. After my purse was stolen I spent something like three hours in a Parisian police station waiting to file a crime report. There were two crime victims ahead of me. When the first one went into a little room with a policewoman and was there for over an hour, I knew I was in trouble. Meanwhile I sat there and watched as about eight policemen and -women arrived in street clothes, disappeared, reappeared wearing their uniforms, walked around the entire station kissing everyone on both cheeks, and then sort of drifted away, or crowded behind a counter to not do much of anything.

This was cute in a "it's just like a movie!" kind of way, but eventually I started to get pissed off. I mean, seriously. Imagine if before getting down to the business of writing this entry, I went "blackbird! How's it going? kiss/kiss!" "Hi Joke! kiss/kiss" "Badger! How are you? Kiss/kiss." I know what you'd be thinking: holy shit; is this a blog or a talk show? Can we get on with it?

Meanwhile we crime victims sat and waited some more. And then when I finally got my chance to talk to a policewoman, I sat in a room with her while she typed shit into a computer, then emerged with lots of pieces of paper and no real sense that anything had been accomplished. Plus nobody kissed me even once.

* * * * *

Tomorrow I'm going to the American Embassy, where I expect to spend another eternity waiting in line. There will probably be less kissing, because I'll bet a lot of the people who work there are American. Then we'll come back to the hotel and check out because they don't have a room for us here anymore. Then we'll go to our new, inconveniently located hotel in a charmless modern section of Paris and mope around some more until we all look as bad as our passport pictures. Because for us it's all about family resemblance togetherness.

Only then will we return to the United States and bring our sweetness, light, and hideous faces passport pictures with us.


  1. Oh, you are experiencing the REAL France, aren't you? I had such a similar experience when I was robbed in Nice. There were professional gypsies that pickpocketed on street corners in groups. They were really good. They didn't get my passport (in the hotel safe) but they did get my eyeglasses, wallet, credit cards, airplane tickets, and travelers cheques. The travelers cheques were the easiest to replace, I just had to talk to AMEX, report the numbers, and then go to an AMEX atm and get new cheques. The credit cards were also easy as I had Barclay's Bank cards which were on the European network. The airplane tickets were frequent flyer miles and they WOULD NOT replace them, so I was screwed. And I had to get eyeglasses in Nice, which cost me close to $500. Nice turned out to be not so nice afterall.

    The French popo are horrid. It's amazing that they solve ANY crime.

  2. My God, this is awful Poppy. I can't imagine how you are keeping your sense of humor. I'd be a real ugly American right about here.

  3. Quelle dommage!! Ce n'est pas charmant ou gentille! Ah, j'aime la France!

    Hope the trip back is as close to uneventful and borderline boring as it can get. Smooth sailing and all that crappe.

    So sorry things went pear-shaped on your lovely jaunt abroad! I guess I don't have to be envious of that particular experience...

  4. I always thought it was "if you look like your passport picture it's time to go home." My pictures and passport are LOST somewhere. The pictures were hideous, so I'm not too worried.

    Hope the folks at the Embassy aren't too mean.

  5. This really sucks. I was hoping when I checked your blog today that you might have posted lovely photos of your travels, as well as humorous stories of what a delightful time you had in Gay Paree. Bummer for you all.

  6. Are you home yest?

  7. Oooo, my daughter had her camera charger stolen from her room in Spain last March. The official police report is her favorite souvenir of the trip.

    Her second favorite is either the Spanish punk CD or the manic electronic bull that hops around while blasting beyond tinny bullfight music.

    I'd say I'm sorry but I know two things: (1) The lost articles are a small price to pay for a story you can tell for the rest of your life and (2) You can probably buy your purse back on eBay next week.

  8. Goodness, that blows. Like really hard. Something similar happened to me a few years ago, but I was in Chicago when this couple robbed me of my bag which had my passport and my green card in it. Why was I carrying both when I wasn't even travelling? I'll never know.

    I think I'm going to Paris for Thanksgiving, still. I will make sure to keep my passport and green card shoved in my bra, or in the hotel safe.


Gentle Readers:

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xxx, Poppy.