Pendaison de Crémaillére 23/04/2010Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
Tags: france, house parties, paris, socializing
Last spring Eléonore was on the outer rim of Robin’s Beaux Arts associations. She invested a great deal of effort teaching me how to correctly pronounce macaroon without any success. A year later she hosted a pendaison de crémaillére at her new apartment, which I was not directly invited to but Damien figured it would be okay if I showed up.
It was an opportunity to travel into the wilds of southeastern Paris, a neighborhood which does not feature largely on many tourists maps. Nothing much to see, just a quiet residential area where the cafés close early and no one’s on the street. What you lose in nightlife you gain in apartments– Eléonore had a place to herself that rivaled the space I was sharing with two people.
My bottle of cheap wine was secreted in the kitchen never to emerge. This process of buying a bottle of wine still intimidates me, and I avoid the specialty shops because someone may try and help me. Even at an alimentation générale the quantity of vintages you can blow five bucks on is rather astonishing, but it also means you can’t just grab something off the dustiest shelf and be done. For all my troubles and the investment of five bucks I should at least have been observed arriving with a bottle of something, but I was too mortified and so far as anyone knows I just showed up to leech.
Not that anyone was making judgements. The living room was populated with little clusters of people all sitting on the floor having little conversations of great seriousness. Art students. They looked unkempt in a carefully calculated way to which American art students can only aspire. The clothes may be a little worn but never ratty. They may be hoping to score free snacks and booze but they’ll never line their pockets or chug their way through free drinks before being chucked out. People knew one another, people said hello, the friends I had arrived with suddenly were occupied so I grabbed a bottle of wine from in between an intense conversation and poured myself a plastic cup.
Time trickled past. There was no breeching these circles of discussion. I leaned against the wall, occasionally checking in with those that brought me who had taken up residence on the floor. The fact that my French is pretty worthless certainly didn’t help matters but judging by a guy who showed up later and sat staring into space, it was more a matter of being an outsider. I didn’t go say hello to him, he didn’t come say hello to me.
I’m not even sure if I said much to Eléonore who noted my presence but did not seem disturbed by me being there. Clément remembered my name, even remembered that it’s not Brenda, but was quickly consumed by others. One stranger did eventually pull up a seat. He had studied Japanese and lived there for a couple years, so we talked about that, we talked about the States and France, we talked about squats. I asked if he knew of an associated called Jeudi Noir and he said his friend was in with them. His friend Antoine.
Antoine was so wasted he couldn’t even speak English. He kept asking me where the party was, what was I doing after I left, what were my roommates doing, was there a party at my house. Not in a condition to talk shop about squats and associations, but my group were gearing up to leave anyways.
I bid adieu to the guy who I had been talking to who earnestly said that if I ever needed anything I just had to ask. I bid adieu to Clément and to Eléonore, then Robin and Ana who were staying. Thomas and Damien were taking a different line so I caught the métro alone, then ran through Pigalle with a couple other passengers trying to catch the last 12 of the night.