They talked to me!

One thing I realize after having spent 10 years abroad is that Parisians never talk to one another, well not to me anyway. Nothing in this town justifies starting a conversation. I don’t know my neighbors, I’ve said hi to them but there is never any good reason why we should start a conversation, I’ve never found one anyway. I could treat my neighbors to an apéritif at my place but I fear they might either be terribly boring after 10 minutes or start snooping in my underwear drawer while I’m preparing drinks. The problem is that I’d really like to meet my neighbors, most of them are young, good-looking, have exotic last names and could be potential friends. What should I do?
Ok, well, now that I think about it, some perfect strangers have talked to me since I arrived here, but what were the occasions?
1) Quaint but dodgy little restaurant near Hôtel de Ville, 3 trendy but drunk Parisians talk to me and my friend until 3 o’clock in the morning, we decide we are friends forever and exchange telephone numbers. When I send an sms 2 days later, they have no idea who I am.
2) Dodgy bar, 2 am, Jean-Pierre, 65 years old wants me to get him a drink
3) Dodgy café, 4 pm, old woman has just been run over by a truck, the whole café is making comments.
4) Paris didn’t get the Olympics, the whole café is in agreement about Englishmen being total crawlers.
5) Dodgy café, 3 am, 2 Algerians ask me if I come from Algeria and whether I’ve seen Abdoul or not lately.
So, I’m sure you’re already drawing the following conclusion: stop spending time in dodgy places. Well, I don’t think that’s the problem you see.
I think the problem is that people talk to each-other only when something scary or out of the ordinary is happening. Indeed, an old woman being run over by a truck IS scary, so let’s talk about it!
The other evening, my friend Bruno insisted that I learn how to roller-skate. I used squad roller skates when I was 10 and was actually pretty good at it. However I had never used those new in-lines-things that seem to have been created to make people look like recently-haemorroids-operated chickens on wheels. I kept on tripping and falling, making a perfect fool of myself. And of course, guess what, suddenly people around me felt totally comfortable making comments on my learning experience: “Ooh, first time hey?” or “Keep on rolling!” or even “Ca roule Raoul?”. The only thing I could think about then was: “Why would you choose to talk to me now and NOT when I looked gorgeous in my new pair of sneakers the other day?”
Who the hell invented roller-blades? Why why why? and more importantly how did all these people in Paris become such experts at it while I can barely stand up wearing those instruments of torture?
But I have an objective (long-term): to roll on the banks of the Seine on Sundays when they close the quays for traffic. And I’ll show you all what I am made of! Then I’ll start talking to my fellow roller-bladers as it is so much easier to start talking to people when you have shared interests. In this mental picture I will also be 10 centimeters taller with curly hair and a great tan. But I guess, that’s another long-term objective.
In the meantime, you’ll find me at the dodgy café across the street, spying on my neighbors.


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