Last night around Paris, people in public places stabbed one last cigarette into their gueles, and then it became February 1st. The day they’ve been dreading. Smoking has now been banned from places like hospitals and metro stations (you know, the kind of places where it never occurs to anyone in the States to smoke, at least in the past 25 years, out of sheer common sense and courtesy). Bars and restaurants will be smoky at least until 2008).
The point of the law, contrary to some public opinion, is not to limit the rights of smokers ("no, you can’t slowly kill yourself in public!"), but to protect the rights of non-smokers ("please don’t slowly kill me in public"). And with this as my assumption, I casually sauntered into a cafe Tuesday evening and sat down at the closest empty table.
"Mademoiselle!" an old lady voice screeched from behind the bar. "That’s the smoking section, êtes-vous fumeuse?"
"Non," I replied, "mais ça ne m’embête pas." I don’t mind sitting in the smoking section, I was explaining; I’m not the kind of non-smoker who can’t bear to be within a mile of a cigarette.
"Mais vous devez vous déplacer, Mademoiselle, vous ne pouvez pas y rester!" she was very upset and insisting I move to the "non-smoking" section, two tables down, on the other side of a plaster column.
"Non, mais, je ne suis que pour 15 minutes, franchement, ça ne m’embête pas Madame," trying to explain I was only staying 15 minutes and didn’t care if the people around me were smoking. Still not getting it. Then:
"Mais les fumeurs ont besoin de leurs propres tables, il faut que vous vous déplaciez immédiatement!"
Aha. It became clear. She didn’t care about my lungs. She cared about the rights of her smoking clients. There was a regulation and she was going to stick to it, whether it made sense or not. Fine. I gathered up my many bags, the exams I had already taken out to begin grading, my pen, my jacket, my scarf, and I moved two tables down, grousing all the while.
* * *
In other news, yesterday I wrote for about L’auberge espanol for Parisist, and refusing to so much as give a name to my desire, I chose not to mention the name Romain Duris. And now look what happened: he turned up in my dream last night. A very naughty dream, dreamt while sleeping right beside mon adoré! This is what comes of repression! So here it is: Romain Duris is so ****ing hot, even in a bad wig, standing in a field of poppies, staring down from those Metro ads for his new Molière film. There you have it. N will understand.