Friday, October 30, 2015

Unmasking Batman

If you are any sort of a true traveler, you meet massive amounts of people whilst wandering the globe. In addition to the monuments and museums, restaurants and rues, the memories that usually last the longest involve people and situations you never would have expected. Sometimes it is just a fleeting moment or smattering of conversation. Other times it is a scandalous night of passion or rollicking weekend adventure. Every once and a while there are those people that manage to fight their way through the memory mist and latch onto lasting friendship... Or in my case, are word vomited into submission and force fed magical diatribes on a daily basis... either way...

During my Eastern European galavant with Hot Blonde Cousin last year, I went to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. I met one fellow in Budapest who I had a relatively scandalous evening with, followed by months of no communication and culminating in a Parisian weekend that I mistakenly hoped might turn into something more. Our second stop, however,  was Vienna, where we took a spectacular tour through the Wachau Valley with an adorable tour guide who I flirted with all day. (Insert shameless plug here.) He did not have the pleasure of my wine-induced tendency to make out on street corners, but he did become lucky enough to have my friendship for days and months after. Since we spent most of that one day on bikes and trains and vineyards, and the rest of our relationship in cyberland, it became easy to imagine that this man was absolutely the concoction of whatever imaginative thought happened to be born. For example, while I have always known that he is Australian, and yes, remains so to this day, I pretty much convinced myself that he sounded like Batman circa Christian Bale... stoic, intense, and completely humorless in regards to whatever glitter I sprinkled about in the moment.

So when at long last Captain Oz was going to be in Paris for a couple of days, I felt simultaneously bursting with excitement and relatively horrified at the idea of seeing what was behind the muffled face mask. Since he was coming to town for a work related event, we would only be able to meet in the daytime and I took the opportunity to have my first day off after 16 crazy days of nonstop teaching. I asked him to meet me in front of the Moulin Rouge mainly because Montmartre is my favorite area of Paris and I wanted to show him some of the sights. When I hopped up the stairs from the metro, I was positively gleeful at the idea of seeing my friend in person after so long. He waved to me from across the street, I jumped for joy, ran to hug him, and then immediately said I felt like he was a cartoon and it would take me several minutes to get used to his distinctly non-Batman-esque tones. In fact, he actually has emotion and intonation and laughter and all the rest, surprise surprise!

Happily, the sun came stumbling through the clouds just around this time and our walk up the hill, past windmills and artists' houses, vineyards and gargoyles up to Sacré Coeur was delightful. We spent some time staring out onto the Parisian skyline before making our way to a café where we had our first bottle of wine for the day. The sun was so warm that I not only had my sunglasses on but removed all possible layers of clothing and we lounged as all Parisians due while sitting on the sidewalk. After lunch, I dragged him down to Saint-Michel and Notre Dame where we said hi to a good friend of mine who lives in the area and were given a recommendation for a yummy dessert spot. We took advantage of the lingering sun once again and sat outside with our macarons, eclairs and coffees. This is about the time of day when you realize that partying never stops when you are with an Aussie... or a crazy American...

Off we went to walk past the Pantheon, get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and make our way to Rue Mouffetard and Place de la Contrescarpe. This particular square is surrounded by touristy but cute little cafés where we sat outside in the twilight and had our second bottle of the day. He actually placated me by switching to rosé, though I know he is not particularly keen on the varietal. At long last, it was unfortunately time for the busy boy to head to his event, so we began our journey to the metro. En route, however, he was apparently bewitched by two quirky looking bars and so made the split-second decision that the night was still young. Not one but two bars and glasses of wine later, we finally ordered Ubers and bid our adieus. It was a thoroughly satisfying day of chatting and laughter, friendship and fun. 

Seeing what lies behind the internet mask proved to be quite a treasure and now this Aussie fool is probably stuck with me for life. I may have reached a more balanced place in terms of word vomit but if he is in fact Batman, at least he has a sturdy Batsuit for protection.


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