In 1994, Counselor Shelley and I scratched one major thing off our Lifetime To Do list.
We spent a week in Paris. Granted, we were on a starving student budget – youth hostel accommodations, no five-star restaurants – and there was a language barrier to overcome, but we caught a ferry from Dover with high levels of excitement.
We hated Paris. With a passion you wouldn't believe. It held the record as worst trip ever for a long time (our 30th birthday trip to New Orleans finally displaced it). I know many people think it's equivalent to heresy to hate Paris, but by day three we were on the phone home begging our parents to change our plane tickets and get us the hell out of there. (They wouldn't.) The other kids at the Youth Hostel were begging their folks for more money, claiming they were never coming home while we were at the airport six hours early for our flight just so we wouldn't miss it.
(A tangent – there's a reason the word “Hostel” and “hostile” are pronounced the same way. Staying in the one is guaranteed to make you the other.)
We haven't been back, and at this point, we don't plan to.
However, if you've ever been in my office, your confusion at my feelings for Paris would be understandable. Most people think I must have loved Paris and end up with furrowed brow when I tell them otherwise.
My collection of Eiffel Towers confuses them. It's an odd collection of Towers, and every last one of them was given to me by Counselor Shelley.
That's what friends are for, right?
Shelley, of course, has an equally as impressive collection.
It's a tradition, now, in a way. A private joke, if you will. Dog knows if anyone else gave me an Eiffel Tower anything, it would be in the Goodwill box before I even got the Thank You note written.
Last year, I gave her a four-inch, rhinestone encrusted Eiffel Tower paperweight. It was fabulously tacky. This year, though, Shelley hit a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) with these:
Yes, Playfriends, those are hot pink toe socks with an Eiffel Tower and “Oo la la” on them. That's also a chicken you see on them, but I'm confused as to why anyone would tie a chicken to the Eiffel Tower. They're hideous, but I must wear them with proper reverence. Hey, at least they are warm (even if the toe things drive me a bit batty).
Nothing like opening a box with a beautiful cashmere sweater and horrific toe socks in it and trying to keep a straight face at the incongruity of the set.
We only torture the ones we love, right?
So are Shelley and I just weird? Anyone else give gifts just to annoy the snot out of the recipient – even if it's done with love? I think some families have traditional “bad” presents – like a fruitcake from 1984 that gets passed around. But this is different somehow. I don't get to give these socks back. I must accept them with the love and joy (and evil glee) in which they were given. I must appreciate the (evil) thought behind the gift. I must remember the (evil) shared experience.
I must start shopping for next Christmas's Eiffel Tower horror now.
Can't let Counselor Shelley think I don't love her anymore, you know.
*No offense to any French readers. I also spent a week in the Trois Vallees – Courchevel, specifically – and adored it. The fabulous food, the great people, the amazing scenery. I'd go back in a heartbeat, even though my skiing skills have not improved. It was just Paris... I didn't particularly care for Minneapolis either – but at least no one put egg on my pizza...