Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Party

It's been a busy couple of days, so unfortunately I haven't had any time to post.  I'm trying to make my posts a little more centralized in their theme, so I'm going to talk about the party on Thursday night.  We spent all day setting up for the event; moving tables and displays out of the boutique and stashing everything in the stockroom.  Pascal rented a bunch of tables and chairs, so we had to set all of those up, and dress them with white tablecloths that we cut from a roll of sheer white cloth.  The roll was quite heavy, so I spent most of the time holding it up in place and spinning it around in order to make the sheets longer for our makeshift table cloths.  Laetitia and Mathilde, another intern, tied the cloths at the long ends of the fold-out plastic tables, and secured them with metal tablecloth clips.  We also hung the white cloth from a long horizontal log at the entrance to Pascal's office in the back of the Liquoristerie.
One of the first party guests to show up was Jean-François Savornin, the guy who does L'Héliquadrisme, who brought along his son, Fred, an amazing guitarist.  He brought some new paintings to the boutique, one of which is my new favorite by far.  It's interesting to see how his style has evolved, I think his paintings are becoming much more cohesive--more abstract and colorful, and less imitation-cubist.  I think that the former works better for his style, and I like to see his work as more distant from cubism, just because I think it's an entirely new concept and requires different treatment for the subject matter--but what do I know, I'm a literature student, not art history.  I thought I had a picture of the new painting that I enjoy so much, but apparently I don't, so I'll have to post again soon about L'Héliquadrisme and include a picture of that one.

Fred and Jean-François came along with their band, which Pascal hired for the party, and they started playing as soon as everyone filed out from the introductory speech in the boutique.  We had set up tables with absinthe fountains and bottles of our liquors.  We also had boxes of vegetables set up, using the different fruit and vegetable pâtes we produce for dipping.  At my table, I served three kinds of pastis--P'tit Bleu, Aqualanca, and Pastis du Pastis--different champagnes, the most popular of which is called Mademoiselle Rose, and two apéritifs: Vermiose and Figoun.
The photos don't really do justice to how many people were there, but it was quite crowded.  I was taking orders mostly in French, which I could mostly understand, but it was frustrating because I wanted to be more cordial and friendly with people, which was impossible because of the language barrier.  It's those little phrases that let people know that you don't speak the language.  When you're just saying "de rein" to everyone's "merci" people realize that you're not a native speaker.  I tried my best to be as friendly and personable as I could, and some people who found out that I'm an American--from my hosts letting them know--spoke to me in English.  They pointed to different vegetables, asking me how to say their names in English, and I asked them how to say the same in French.  It's funny, the people who speak good English over here always disagree when I give them compliments on their speaking.  I always retort with, "Your English is a hell of a lot better than my French," which usually elicits a chuckle.

I saw my new writer friend there, Claire, and she brought along a friend of hers, Krista.  Speaking with them was a nice break from the torrent of French speakers asking for pastis and champagne.  It's much easier to make small talk with people who speak your own language.  Jill caught a picture of us from the balcony above, so here it is.  I figured I didn't really have any pictures of myself on here, so I think this is a good one.  Claire's on the left in the teal, and that's Krista on the right.
Many of the guests left after the cocktail tasting portion finished, and the rest of the interns and I arranged the tables to accommodate the next part of the evening's activities--the Paëlla dinner.  We broke out the bottles of wine at that point, and everyone served themselves up a plate, or a few, of the dish.  As everyone drank their wine and gorged their food, the band played French-folk-rock style music.  Some folks danced, and I stayed on the sidelines taking pictures.  Two dancers, Jean-François and Claire, are apparently professionals, or semi-professionals; Jill informed me that the former used to dance at Monaco in professional competitions.  I was a little too afraid to get up there, and a little too drunk, and now that I know I would've been up against some recognized great dancers, I'm glad I refrained from shimmying around as tipsy as I was.
Above to the left are Claire and Jean-François, and to the right you see Jill and Pascal.  The dark-haired girl in the flamenco dress was the star of the evening.  After Jean-François danced with a few women at the party, of course he had to ask the belle of the ball for a dance.  He stooped over, taking her hands in his, and leading her around the dance floor as she smiled with the kind of radiance only little kids have, before they grow up and become ashamed of how their teeth look. He spun her, and she laughed. They walked back and forth across the dance floor, hand in hand, as the drunken crowd looked on and watched the artist and the little girl dance under the soft pink-orange-purple lights.


  1. Quelle bon fete! (is that how you say, "What a great party?"). Looks like it was fun, and that you were doing some good helping-out.

  2. Cute picture of you, Zach! I was intrigued with the darling little girl--the way her hands look, as if she's holding castanets. She probably is learning to play them while she dances but didn't have them with her. I'll bet your French is far better than most of the Americans over there. From what I know, the French really appreciate foreigners who have the guts to attempt to speak their language.