Circa December 1992, I went to visit my sister in France. She was partying studying there for a year in Montpellier, France.
She stayed in an apartment in Montpellier but travelled down to Paris for the Christmas holiday and we stayed in her friend's place during the 2 weeks I was there. Most of her friends were also exchange students but from various countries in Europe and Asia. I was 17 and spent Christmas and New Year's in Paris. How awesome is that?
The folks we hung out with were locals and oh so very nice. Because there were so few students who remained in Paris for the holidays and we were all too broke to go out to a fancy restaurant, we stayed in and cooked our New Year's dinner at Remi's place (btw, Remi was uber-hot and such a sweetheart):
After dinner, french wine and yummy desserts, we headed out to the Copa Club to ring in the new year. Because I was under-age and the lack of funds prevented me from getting my drank on, I welcomed 1993 completey sober but nevertheless, it was fun! and goddammit, I was in Paris, France, dancing and hollering with French people halfway across the world. The guys were hammered so we decided to walk back to Remi's place, stopping along the way to grab some snacks and as it seems, to rest by the bus stop. Even though we weren't taking the bus. Nothing says classy like sitting on the curb at 3am by a bus stop.
I just remembered the name of the guy 2nd from the left - his name is Mehdi. Remi and Mehdi were roommates and spoke pretty good English but JP didn't speak a word. He liked me so for the two weeks I was there, we spent most of the time trying to figure out what the other person was saying. The only thing we took away from those two weeks was bad language and cuss words. He was a joker so even though I didn't understand 95% of what he was was saying, I laughed anyway because he acted like a clown.
I remember Mehdi being hesitant to leave for the club on New Year's eve because his cat was sick. That was the night that I learned cats could get AIDS or as they say in French: le SIDA. Mehdi's little sister came over to babysit the cat and when we got home in the weehours of the morning, we heard Mehdi crying. That's when we saw the box where they cat was sleeping; his sister had gone to bed for the night but left a note on the cat that read "le chat est mort". For you non French-speakers, that means "the cat is dead". I don't know if it was the awkwardness of the situation or that Mehdi was drunk and crying or that everyone else was drunk but we all started laughing. Not that a dead animal is laughable but instead of putting the cat somewhere, his sister left a note on the corpse that said "the cat was dead". That was the funny part.
France was a year filled with tragic events for the students. That was the year "la poisse" - bad luck - plagued my sister and all of her friends:
- the stairwell of Mehdi and Remi's building that led to all apartments caught fire so for the entire year, the stairwell was pitch black. It was covered in soot and ash which was never cleaned and no matter how careful you were not to rub up against the walls or railing, you always got black shit all over your clothes and ruined them
- Mehdi fell down the stairwell and hurt his knee
- Mehdi's cat died
- $100 francs was stolen from my wallet
- a water bottle exploded in my sister's bag and everything got soaked. My camera got wet and broke :(
- While dropping a friend off at the train station, Remi was on board saying good-bye when the train left ... while he was still on board! he didn't have a ticket or his passport and ended up getting yelled at and fined several hundreds of Francs
- I lost my train ticket and that was the day they decided to check for tickets. La poisse!