La Fête des Voisins
Last night was the annual Fête des Voisins, or "Neighborhood Party". It was only my second FdV - the first one being years ago when I lived in my shoebox in the 5th. Because of my on-going battle with the travaux-loving nuns in our last building (long story), we never attended any when we lived in the 15th.
And I was in Asia the past two years for the FdV, but this year was finally around to attend one in our new residence. I had mixed feelings about going - on one hand, it would be nice to meet more people in our building, and on the other, I worried about losing the anonymity of appearing like just another French person. (All those years in Bretagne have made me sensitive about being known as "The American).
We also had tickets to go see a Franco-American Comedy Hour (more on that later), so we eventually decided to attend for the first half hour and then head out. We went downstairs at 7pm on the dot, and surprisingly not only was the party already in swing but there were several young couples in attendance.
Our building is mainly full of original owners who bought their apartment back when it was built, and most of them are now well into their 70's and 80's. If you didn't know better, our residence could almost be mistaken for a nursing home... But I have been seeing more and more posted signs saying "Mme X on the XX floor passed away" over the past year or so, and then shortly after a "for sale" ad, and it appears that several other young couples have recently moved in. Notre immeuble se renouvelle...
So we had a quick drink with a Romanian-British couple, a Romanian woman, and a Russian woman, and then off we went to the spectacle. After it finished, we tried to find a place to have a drink outside, but the bars were so packed that we decided to just come back home and have a drink on our balcony. However on our way in, we saw the commons room door still open, so we decided to go see if the FdV party was raging on.
We found the last few stragglers, including our concierge and his wife, the Russian woman, and the extremely frail and elderly lady who takes care of the building's garden. It was an odd mix, but they invited us for a drink, so we sat down to join them. A little while later, the Russian woman's husband and another guy around our age came down. More bottles and glasses were brought out and one drink turned into several.
I made it for about two hours before the Russian woman's husband turned to me and said "Wait a minute, you have a small accent, where are you from?" I immediately thought - darn it, my cover is blown! (However, I found out later that he also said the same thing to C, so I possibly could have just pretended to be from Bretagne or somewhere else in France). His wife heard and immediately started talking to me in English. Turns out she had lived in NYC for two years and was a big fan of the US. I didn't really feel comfortable speaking in English since I knew the others didn't understand, but she was a persistent one.
As the night wore on and the alcohol kicked in, she became progressively harder to understand. It's not like she was slurring or anything, just that the words she was stringing together didn't make any sense, and then she'd finish with "You know what I mean?". Um, no, actually I have no clue! That went on for quite some time, and we finally wrapped things up around 2am.
But not before this one really spacey guy told a story about how several years ago, a child he'd had with his ex-wife had been kidnapped by some Circus folk in the south of France, and it took the police three days to find him. Once the kid was found, this guy was thrown in jail for three days! It wasn't really clear why - possibly for negligence? It did make me think twice though when they suggested we all meet for dinner in the future. I know I keep saying I need to meet new people, but...
Labels: La Fête des Voisins