La Rentrée

Below: You probably recognize this awesome painting by Edvard Munch however, what you didn’t know is that it actually represents a hysterical Parisian French mother taking her children to their piano lesson on a busy Saturday afternoon, shortly after La Rentrée.

FOR those of you who do not have the great pleasure of living in this country, let me introduce you to a national concept: La Rentrée.
If you translate directly, you understand “the re-entry” but its actual meaning is re-entry into school or simply “back to school” although in my mind right now it means “re-entry into the state of behaving like a freak show”.

In August, the entire Parisian population left the city to gather to the same beach on the Riviera in order to enjoy sea, sex and sun (that’s what’s written on the postcard while in reality you should read sunburns, endless diarrhoea, bad quality flip-flops, Indian braids, tacky beach clubs, cheap sangria and charter flight fear).
Over-night, they all came back, driving on the same motorway, using the same Métro line and emptying all my local grocery stores, all at once!

Paris in August is as peaceful and quiet as a New Year’s Eve party in Switzerland and even though I love the buzz of this city when it reaches its climax on a Friday night or Sales Saturday, I did find it quite relaxing and enjoyable to walk around feeling like I owned the streets and to be honest, the flirting potential is higher in August. Indeed, while all of the worked-out, suntanned, sexy ones were rich enough to be out of town, well, the poor, average looking and slightly chubby ones like me got to become the attraction of the day. In other words, thanks to lacking competition, August turned me into a hot babe!

However, in one night, they all re-appeared, hysterically jumping into my life as pop-corn in a sauce-pan. Slightly burnt and greasy but yummy enough to make me look fat. Newly awoken and sour children on their way to school, nagging at their baggy-eyed parents, upset at the fact that they didn’t get the 150€ trendy schoolbag that ALL of their friends are going to be carrying. “It’s like soooo embarrassing!” allow themselves to behave like perfect brats and send you the look of death as you quietly step on their tiny feet trying to squeeze yourself into the Métro.

In August, the few Parisians whom you come across are all pretty relaxed, people walk slowly, it’s ok to show up 2 hours late for work and leave 4 hours later, the old grannies put their camping-chairs on the sidewalks of the 11th arrondissement and greet passers-by, even the boulangères smile at you (just kidding, all boulangeries are closed in August).

But in September it seems to be entirely legitimate to show up to work on time, to actually work 9 through 5, to get some work done, to stumble on old unoccupied camping-chairs and be yelled at by ugly and bitter boulangères ‘cos they “did go to the Riviera but the weather wasn’t good and our climate is really changing blah blah blah…”.

Question of the day:

So why is it legitimate to suddenly behave like a nasty bastard just because one is back to work and bitter after a boring vacation and why does one constantly look like Edvard Munch’s “Scream” as they take the kids to their piano then dance then karate lessons? I want my August back, and I want all these hunky suntanned people to disappear and give back my camping-chair now!

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