Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Catalans in Paris, Part 2

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Look at me, remembering a holiday on the day it actually falls! All of the credit goes to Camper which sent me an email prompting me to check out their “Halloween selection.”

Clearly, no one told them that "damn" is a swear word.

No one told them that “damn” is a swear word.

Camper, a Catalan shoe company originally established in Mallorca in 1975, clearly doesn’t understand that while most American holidays* are about spending money, Halloween is only about children getting candy and adults getting dressed up and wasted. Oh, and telling ghost stories, like the spooky one I’m going to relate right now…

It was a dark and stormy night… That’s a total lie. It was a lovely sunny day and I was walking past the Opéra Garnier. There’s a Camper shop near there and, since I wasn’t in a hurry and I am always happy to check out their good quality, comfy shoes, I went in.

A tall salesman at the back of the shop said hello to me and I said hello back. He started a bit and looked at me really hard before making a bee line straight for me.

He asked me, in Catalan, where I was from and I responded, in Catalan, that I’m Spanish and American but that I used to live in Barcelona. I asked him how he knew to speak to me in Catalan and he said that I had done so first. I told him that I didn’t think that was possible since I’d never just assume that he spoke Catalan; we were in Paris after all.

He said, “No, you definitely said ‘bon dia‘ to me, so I thought you were Catalan too.” At this point I actually looked at him and saw that he *did* look kind of Catalan so it’s possible I automatically greeted him as one but I still thought he was pulling my leg. That was the moment when I became wildly uncomfortable because I was doubting everything that had transpired in the previous two minutes and that’s just not something that happens to me. I gave him the sideways stink eye to see if he buckled under my scrutiny but he just grinned really wide and said that he hadn’t found anyone to speak in Catalan with since he got to Paris.

“But *you* started it,” I insisted again and he rocked back and forth on the balls of feet and kept smiling.

At this point I said, “Adéu” and got the hell out of there. And that, children, is why I will never go back to that Camper store again.

Happy Halloween and remember not to talk to strangers, even if they greet you in favorite tongues!

*Non-Americans probably don’t know that President’s Day has evolved into the holiday for big-ticket items, like cars and mattresses. If I were joking, this would be kind of funny. That I’m totally serious should indicate how twisted and consumer-driven American life is.

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Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

2 thoughts on “Catalans in Paris, Part 2

  1. Oh, Halloween is definitely about spending now–after Christmas it’s the biggest retail holiday between the candy, costumes, decorations, and booze. I think it’s become the default–if people are thinking at all about spending money, then retailers are going to figure out a way to get that money for themselves, no matter how paltry the connection to the holiday.

    That said, as weird as that encounter was, thank you for jogging my memory re: Camper shoes. My husband is in the market for a new pair of tie shoes and DSW was not yielding anything of interest yet.

    • But Halloween hasn’t a become a “hey, let’s go to the mall” type holiday, has it? *Every* American holiday is about consumerism to some extent (gotta boost those quarterly profits!), but Halloween isn’t about shoe shopping… unless things have changed a lot more than I thought.

      Happy to have reminded you of Camper though. They’ve got at least one really good store in lower Manhattan. Now I feel good about having done my part to promote the Spanish economic recovery.

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