After many attempts to arrange a meeting - I'm not in Paris that often (although it seems like I've been a million times this year) and Ella has been living a jet-set international lifestyle lately - the big day was almost upon us! We had emailed back a number of times, but everything was still pretty vague, since I hadn't really nailed things down with what time the family were setting off. After dashing off a quick email, my phone started ringing. Who could that be, after 10 pm at night? For some reason, it didn't occur to me that it was Ella, and after the eternal inward debate when an unknown French number lights up my screen, I opted to answer with a creaky "Allo?", sounding as though I'd just woken up (my friend Liz asks me that every time she calls, I think my voice just goes into rusty gate mode if I haven't used it within the last half an hour). It was Ella! And I'd answered the phone sounding like the French version of the Squeaky-Voiced Teen.
"Omg, Gwan," I thought to myself, "Way to mess it up with the cool chick. She's not going to wanna be your friend now." I was as nervous as though we were going on an actual date instead of a blogdate. Luckily my testicles are not actually in the process of descending (got that out of the way years ago), so I managed to make it through the rest of the conversation without any awkward voice-breaks, and our plans were made for the following day.
I managed, for once, to navigate my way to our meeting place without getting lost (I actually can do the metro system okay) and came up the steps into a light rain 15 minutes early. Peering out of my underpowered eyes, I spotted someone who looked a lot like Ella, but I headed towards her at an oblique angle, just in case at the last minute I had to veer off course upon discovering that once again my eyes had deceived me and instead of a petite Italian-American woman, it actually turned out to be a large black man (I'm seriously blind and bad at recognising people, I wouldn't put it past me). No such avoiding action was necessarily, because it was indeed Ella herself, and I'm happy to say that that was the last awkward moment of the evening!
We set out for a mini inside tour of Ella's Paris. I was excited to pass close to her apartment, to see the famous Franprix O' Embarrassment and Yard, the cute site of Ella and Seb's upcoming PACS dinner, before starting our evening off tête-à-tête in a quiet bar with 4.50€ happy hour cocktails.
|Doing an Ella, i.e. covering our faces. This was made possible by Ella ripping my map in two, cheers love! ;) The famous Franprix can be glimpsed behind us!|
After a little bit of Dutch courage (which I just found out Americans call "liquid courage"), Ella led me into the lion's den of Au Bon Accueil, a "dive bar" filled with a motley (but, it turns out, friendly) crew of genuine, un-chic, salt-of-the-earth Parisians, "interesting" decor and, most importantly, 2.50€ glasses of wine. Ella describes, and photographs, the ambience much better than I could, so if you haven't read it already, I refer you to her account of the evening.
I'll just add that I had a great evening, the conversation flowed as easily as the wine, oh and Ella has a secret thing for little ratty men! (I've seen photos of Seb, fear not ladies, he's hot, but it seems her taste falls off quite a sharp cliff thereafter.)
|Foxy ladies and foxy toilet decorations. I loved this cute little fox cuddling a chicken. I hope he has honest intentions|
|A drunkard? And why not? I've known a hundred times worse... Come drink with me. We'll bore ourselves later. I just had to get a photo with this neat summation of my life's philosophy.|
|A nice drunk man kindly took a photo of me, Ella, and our lobster pal|