I was having an email conversation with Sab of Paris Set Me Free, about macarons and his annoyance at how everyone is talking about them. I don’t know if I talk about them too much, I certainly love to make them, but the conversation made me recall a story that happened to me last summer. I hope you find it as funny as I (now) do.
I dedicate this story to Sab!
Here is my recount :
My boyfriend and I were invited to a birthday party for one of his colleagues and friends, who lives out in the eastern banlieu of Paris.
I had had a rough day.
It was hot.
Muggy and making my makeup look sad.
After working in the office all day (my day job is working for an American study abroad company) I had to rush over to this party, which required several transportation transfers.
I also didn’t want to show up to someone’s birthday empty handed.
The closest thing to my office where I could get something, anything… was a boulangerie that makes macarons as well. I got a box of those.
Now, you should know that I had not eaten much all day, because I was so busy and forgot to feed myself much lunch.
I also had forgotten to keep my phone charging all afternoon, and was low on battery.
I also had several bag of things I had to lug around that day.
Not a pretty picture.
So, I grab the box of macarons, which actually has to be carried very daintily, and flat, so as not to crush the delicate cookies.
So with purse, other two bags and a macaron box, I board the first metro that I was to take.
Ooops. Wrong line I realize after I have gone about 10 stations too far.
Ok, no problem, I have lived here 8 years and know this system like the back of my hand, right?
So I get off at the next station where I can grab a different line that is going where I need to go….all the while carefully balancing the macaron box.
I get to the stop in the banlieu where I need to be, and realize that, oops wrong again, I was right the first time and should have taken the line I was on before.
Ok, too much to take the metro all the way back and transfer and then take the original line another 6 stations or so. Can’t fathom that. So I look for bus lines that can help. I cross a plaza where there are several bus lines crossing through to peer at the map of one of the stops. Ok it looks like I have deciphered which line I need to take to get slightly north of where I am. But that stop is all the way on the opposite side of the plaza. It’s a very large plaza. As I arrive there, the bus pulls up. Oh joy! But just to be sure I am not confused, I ask the driver before boarding if he goes where I need to go. Fail. He does not. He points out a station midway across the plaza that I would need to take a bus at.
Now. I am. officially. Not happy.
And I am starving. which makes my temper even shorter.
I recross the plaza halfway swearing under my breath like a weathered sailor, and before I can reach the stop in time, I see the bus I need arrive, vomit passengers, gobble up some others and then pull away. I run frantically, still trying not to jostle the macarons too much. Fail again. Arms waving, bags flying around my shoulders, hair flapping and me shouting « attendez ! » did not help at all. He was a heartless bus driver. And should be punished by being made to run after buses all day, only to never be let on board.
So I wait for the next one. It arrives in 9 minutes. Ugh. Oh well, it’s time to calm down and take a breath.
And look at the map on my phone, which is almost empty of battery by now.
Finally I am on the bus.
Hunger pains in my stomach make me peek in the macaron box. Just to make sure they are not crushed of course !
I get to the stop that I need, and realize that the bus has dropped me off on the wrong side of the périphérique. Aarrrrrrrghh !
Just carry on I tell myself. Just carry on.
I am now an hour late, by the way.
I have informed my boyfriend of my trials and tribulations, so he knows how much of a wreck I am going to be when I arrive. I send a frantic text message to say that I am still not there yet, and am sort of lost. I type furiously on the key pad for fear that the phone dies any second now.
I find the footbridge that crosses the 8 lanes highway that runs around the city of Paris. I nearly have a heart attack while crossing it, as I get slight vertigo, and I could see down below on both sides of the bridge where cars were rushing pas like angry water rapids. I felt like any gust of wind might blow me over the side. (Silly really since it was a very wide bridge). But I walked smack dab in the middle just in case. And I walked fast.
Once on safe grond I consulted the dying phone again, to find the street i needed. I thought I found it, walked for about 3 minutes and realized it was not the right one. I retraced my steps. Asked help from a few passers-by. They did not know. But of course !
I am close to tears by now. And I am so hungry, and my blood sugar so low, that I might start yelling at the street signs soon. I decided I would do myself and everyone else at the party a favor and not appear as a mean crazy lunatic upon arrival. I carefully remove part of the ribbon that has secured the package, open the box and chose a macaron. It’s pink. Raspberry. It could taste like rubber for all I care. I just need some sugar in my system ! I eat it. On the street corner. Make-up dripping, bags hanging off my arms like dead weights, hair a mess. Patience gone. I eat that macaron. It was gone very quickly. I don’t think one is enough. I take out another one. I eat it. I feel slightly better.
Time to keep moving. I am so late they may have forgotten I was coming at all!
Oh please little android phone don’t die on me now ! I pray.
I peer at the darn map for the 50th time, and figure it out. But by now I am on the right street. I look up and see the right street name and feel a flash of joy rush through my brain. Then I look at the street number. Noooo ! I am going to have a ten minute walk.
I take out another macaron.
I eat the macaron.
I don’t care anymore.
When I finally arrive, there is only half a box of macarons. I am greeted at the door by my boyfriend and the party host whose birthday it is. I look like a sad, sorry, pitiful drenched rat that is slowly wilting in the Parisian summer heat. I slowly lift up the box of half-eaten macarons and give a please-pity-me smile, and say… « I had to eat some of them. It was either that or not arrive at all ! » We laughed long and hard about it.
I am sure he will never forget that birthday gift !
So what is the moral of the story ? Always buy a few extra macarons for yourself !!!!