Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Heal the World

Beloved reader! I feel like it's been so long. At least four days. How are things? Glad to hear. Well, life is still going over here. The monotony of work was finally broken last night with one of those nights that, when you lay down to sleep, you pause a moment, reflect, and say "did that really just happen?" Shall I tell the story? Great, have a seat.

The day started out normally with a tour and various other errands to run before five o'clock. What kept my spirits up was the thought that a buddy from college (Laurence) was in Paris and looking to have a few drinks that night. Fantastic. I meet up with him on the evening tour, we explore Montmartre and the tour ends. When we are walking away for a bite to eat and a nip of grandpa's ol' cough medicine, I ask Mary (another tour guide) if she'd like to come along. Sure! Great. We look around and settle on a cute little place playing Cuban music and serving sandwiches. Great.

We walk inside (me, Laurence, his two cousins [one looked a bit like Natalie Portman...], and Mary, soon to be joined by Ellen) and have a seat at the table near the door. As we enter, a group of about 8 middle aged people sitting in the back all turn around and look at us, seemingly judging us. Nevermind them.

We order up a few liters of wine, a crepe or two, and several sandwiches. After receiving our wine, the waiter brings us over some cheese balls to munch on. For free. That's enough to make a night special (especially in Paris). This place is pretty cool. We get our food (which was delicious) and finish the vino. Throughout the course of the meal, the other group of people are being quite noisy. Like, drunk noisy. Jeez, get some manners.

As we finish, the group calls us over. Apparently Mary had been talking to them after she went to the bathroom and made friends. Ok, let's check this out. We get up and walk over to them. It turns out that there is a ringleader (his name, we find out later, is "Angel") who is about to lead the group in a "Circle of Good Deeds".


We all join hands. Well, joining hands is the wrong image. We link thumbs and forefingers. Next, we all point our free index fingers towards the center, start chanting, and raise the mass of conjoined fingers to the ceiling in a faux-"hands in" cheer. If you think that this sounds weird and out of place in a Cubanish restaurant, you're not alone. I was crapping my pants. I was expecting them to whip out a cauldron of goat's blood for us to bathe in next. Luckily, after the Circle of Good Deeds (it has a catchier name in French...apparently), we made a "Communal Circle" dance. Angel's explanation was thusly: We need to learn how to make friends. We need to learn how to share. We need to learn how to be kind. Therefore, we need to learn how to be happy. And, according to crazy French guy, that means we need to chant and hold hands and move around in a circle in a restaurant with a random group of strangers. Cool. He said that we chant because it takes our minds off of other distractions. We are not thinking, because chanting does not involve much thought. A good idea on paper, but maybe my brain is warped because as we were chanting I couldn't help but think that this is one of the oddest social interactions of my life.

It sounds like I am making this stuff up. Yeah, we are all just friends who went out for a drink. Yeah, we chose a Cuban coffee bar. Yeah, we started blessing the Earth with a group of random adults led by a guru who I feel like I have seen before in a dream (no joke. This guy's face was extremely familiar. I don't know what to make of it). All in a night's work. After buying eachother food and drink (they gave us a salmon/bruschetta dish and we gave them a bottle of wine) they left and invited us to a Mardi Gras party at this famous club down the road.

So, either we stay and call it a night, or continue with the group of crazy people. Is that a choice at all? Bring on the loonies.

We dance the night away in a cool club surrounded by people in costume and horny old men. I could have done without the latter.

Not a bad night. I'm off to slumber. Tour in the morning.

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