Love At First Sight In the Métro

photo: bistro le paris, champs elysees

This shady-side terrace on the Champs-Elysées is
a bit too early.

A Fiction for Saint-Valentine

Paris:- Sunday, 13. February 2000:- Tomorrow is Saint-Valentine's Day which is vying for Halloween as another obscure occasion for separating you from some cash. Saint-Valentine's Day has a slight edge because it deals in sentiment instead of spooks.

I'm not sure this is what Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote his version of 'Romeo and Juliette' - although I'm sure he was aware of the value of theatre ticket sales.

According to today's Le Parisien, it all revolves around a 'coup de foudre.' In non-Latin countries it is mere 'falling in love' which sounds a lot less dramatic than lightning bolts.

The trick of it in France, is that the real thing must be 'love at first sight.' This is more romantic than any other kind, its value is higher, its effects are measurable by scientists; and poets and writers have a much more exciting time with it.

In the real world, if you are in the métro and you think you are co-experiencing a 'coup de foudre' with another passenger, you better be able to think fast.

Technically, according to scientists, this is impossible if the 'coup de foudre' is authentic. These turn your brain to mush.

All the same, I say you have to think fast. The implications of an uncontrolled 'coup de foudre' could be grave. The worst case, of course, is one which is one-way. Without a simultaneousphoto: small peugeot touring car aller-retour a 'coup de foudre' is nearly worthless - if not a total contradiction of terms.

No. It has to be two people - pow! - blasting each other, together at the same time. This is a workable basis for a true 'coup de foudre.'

One of Peugeot's tiny touring cars at Rétromobile.

What are the odds against this happening - to you? To anybody? Just think of all the people you already know with whom you know no 'coup de foudre' is possible or even desirable. After careful consideration, you've probably eliminated half of mankind.

So this 'coup de foudre' you are supposed to have, be entitled to, is going to happen with a stranger. A situation like this can be full of danger.

Remember, you only have half of mankind left as a possible candidate. From this half you will probably be wise to eliminate all sorts of categories of people - what a long list!

Back in the métro - you see that guy squashed against the door on the other side of the wagon. You look - and pow! - it is love at 'first sight.' Ninety seconds later the train arrives at Odéon and those leaving the wagon push you out onto the quay.

Those impatiently waiting on the quay, elbow you to the rear and jam into the car in front of you and the beeper goes and the doors slide shut with the tail of somebody's coat sticking out. The train picks up speed, headed for Saint-Germain.

And you, you klutz, had a 'coup de foudre.' These do not happen to most people every day of the week. Sometimes years pass between one and the next. Sometimes you never get another. They are rare in other words.

The most essential question, as you stand on the quay watching the red tail lights of the train disappearing in the tunnel, is - did you get a return blitz?

If you are even thinking this fast, and the answer is yes, then you have a big problem. One of them is, 11 million people live in the Paris region.

If the answer is no to the 'return-blitz' question, then your problem is not so great. A mono 'coup de foudre' is just one of life's little tricks, like one hand clapping or doing a head-stand on an apple. If you fail, only you know about it.

But it's Saint-Valentine's Day tomorrow, so let's assume you got a positive return. It was a mutual, two-way 'coup de foudre.' The true thing.

By the time the métro has reached Saint-Germain, your co-recipient of the 'coup dephoto: citroen traction foudre' is under its influence and even with a mushy brain should have the sense to get off the métro train.

No Rétromobile is complete without at least one 'Traction.'

Both of you have to decide whether to reconnect via the métro or on the surface. One doing one and the other doing the other, will not ensure success. If you opt for the street and then change your mind - pure mush - it is going to cost a ticket to get back in the métro.

Even if you have an Orange Card and this costs you nothing extra, once you are underground and looking around the tunnels and on the quays, you can't be on the street at the same time. And vice-versa.

No. If you've had a true 'coup de foudre' there should be something like a magnetic force drawing you towards your blitzed other half.

About 450 metres of rain-slicked sidewalks separate the two métro stations. In principle, with Odéon and Saint-Germain, one exit is on one side of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the other is on the other.

Since both your brains are mush, I will grant you the sense to leave the métro's underground and start walking towards the other métro station. There are only two sides to the Boulevard Saint-Germain after all.

You are doing this, walking towards Saint-Germain. The traffic is coming against you and the headlights are reflecting off the glistening street - it is darn hard to see, and it is wet.

Just to e more realistic, your Romeo is coming your way, but he is on the other side of the street. He can see better, but his glasses are beaded with raindrops - and he feels a bit dizzy because of this 'coup de foudre' business.

Continued on page 2...
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